50 Shades of Red… and Even Some Blue

The Tuscan anteprima week is by now an appointment not to be missed for Chianti lovers and wine lovers in general. The event for Chianti DOCG, held at Fortezza da Basso, this year saw more than 4000 people flock to sample what the over 100 producers present had to offer.

Getting up early is a good idea, so that you can taste in peace before the doors open to the general public after 4 p.m. Take a look at these before and after pictures, they are literally lining up to get in!

This year, the DOCG Chianti (which includes 7 subzones: Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Colli Aretini, Colline Pisane, Montalbano, Montespertoli and Rufina) graciously hosted another DOCG: Morellino di Scansano.

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The association of producers of Morellino, or Consorzio, was celebrating its 40th anniversary as a DOC denomination with over 20 producers presenting their vintages. This luscious, fruity wine became a DOCG in 2007. Only 25% of Morellino di Scansano is exported, so you have to seize the opportunity to enjoy it here in Italy. Of course, this is another expression of Tuscany’s pride and joy, the grape variety Sangiovese. But Morellino di Scansano grows in the Maremma area of Tuscany, near the sea, and clearly it is influenced by that proximity. From sea level, the area has elevations up to about 500 meters. This is the area of the butteri, or Italian cowboys, the Maremma bufala, and the famous Maremma sheepdog who helped the butteri keep an eye on the herds.

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The Italian Impressionists, called Macchiaioli, loved this area and painted up a storm. Here is Giovanni Fattori’s 1893 painting, Butteri.

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Giovanni Fattori, Butteri

Yours truly was on hand to sip and sample; even got a cameo appearance on the RAI service!

Suzanne in Rai Chianti Lovers

The brilliant, deep reds of Morellino, the intense fruit – blackberries, cherries, plum – balanced by good acidity make for a very pleasant, satisfying sip.

As for our Chianti friends, we made our way through the subzones, sipping and sampling. Did we say 50 shades of red? Conservative estimate.

I know what you’re thinking, but this is hard work. First you get a good look at appearance, then the nose…

One of the nicest things about wine fairs is meeting the people who make the wines – each with his or her story to tell, their raison d’être, or even their raisin d’être, their vintage. I am always struck by that particular combination of pride and humility that marks winemakers: the pride in their product pushes them to want to share it with you, to talk about it like a parent would speak of a child, and the humility in bowing before the force of nature, or in recognizing the good work of their fellow vignerons.

Marchesi Gondi, to the left; Campochiarenti center

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Marchesi Gondi is making wine like they made their palace… to last!

My last stop for the day was at Agricola La Svolta. In Italian, La Svolta means the turning point, and these two young winemakers decided they’d had enough of banking and insurance and the rat race, and bought 5 hectares. They make 15,000 bottles a year, all organic, no sulfites. They just started out in 2016, so this was of course their first time at Chianti Lovers.

You gotta love it!

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