Chianti Dinner and Masterclass at Scopri 26/06/12

This was only the second dinner I hosted for the The Wine Depository so there was a lot of fussing to make sure I was on top of everything. I wonder if Led Zeppelin felt this much tension for their second outing?
Luckily I had a team of seasoned veterans around me who made everything run smoothly. They being Alison and Anthony at Scopri and Michael Trembath of Trembath and Taylor, wine importer and Italian wine encyclopedia.

This event was flagged at the end of my first dinner featuring Piedmont and Michael and I nutted it out over a glass or two of Chianti. The centre piece of the tasting would be three Chianti Classico producers with three different philosophies. We would show a ‘normale’ and Riserva from each producer which would cover four recent vintages. As a contrast we would show a Brunello and a Super Tuscan type wine.

I created some notes for the night and you can take a peek at the order form.
Michael really nailed Chianti and the Sangiovese grape by describing it as a really “winey” grape and a style of wine that you could drink every day of the week. This showed through in the Chianti wines, so savoury, refreshing and subtle.

Once again Scopri came to the party with a brilliant menu and some of the best wine service I have experienced in Melbourne. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Yummy Prosecco.
Yummy Prosecco leading the charge.

On Arrival Mozzarella In Carozza – Mozzarella skewers

Canella Prosecco NV Not from Chianti, Tuscany or Sangiovese. But the perfect way to start a meal. Canella is crisp, clean and vibrant, nice amount of fizz. Great balance and very enjoyable to drink. There were no complaints (maybe because we opened a second bottle?)

Entree Pappardelle al cacao con ragu di cervo – Our handmade chocolate pappardelle with slow cooked venison ragú, fresh parmesan

2009 was an excellent year in Chianti (and large parts of Europe too). It has made Chianti of great balance and depth.

The best Chianti Classico.
All Class(ico)

Rocca di Montegrossi Chianti Classico 09 These guys were flying the flag for high altitude, stoney soil, traditional production and low oak style of Chianti.
It had lovely red and blue berry fruits, savoury/earthy notes with tea leaf and liquorice. The palate was dry, clean and bright. Showing the typical Sangio red cherry fruit and sour acidity. So much harmony.

Poggerino Chianti Classico 09 From right smack in the middle of the region on Volcanico soils and using biodynamic principles. This wine showed more savoury/minerally on first look but opened up with some dense blue fruits and pepper to support it. For me this wine had the most silk and flesh with a great mouthfeel. There was a hint of plums and prunes on the palate and the flavours showed incredible persistence. This was a wine of finesse and elegance.

Felsina Chianti Classico 09 Felsina is situated about as far South as you can get in Chianti Classico and has the warmest vineyards of the three we tasted. It is also probably my favourite Chianti producer. It showed dense and deep characters of red fruits, rose petal, fruit cake and aniseed.
The palate was long, clean with a hint of oak. It is a focussed and structured wine. The one I would most likely age of the trio.

Main Agnello brasato su polenta al pecorino e funghi – Lamb neck braised in red wine with grilled polenta and Mt Macedon pine mushrooms

Chianti Classico Riserva - brilliant drinking.
The Riservas
Rocca di Montegrossi Chianti Classico San Marcellino 06 This is made as per Riserva laws but does not use the term on their labels. The fruit here comes from their oldest vineyard. 06 offered classic growing conditions in Chianti.
This wine offered spice, aniseed, pip/stalky notes, chocolate and oxy fruits. In the mouth it was rich and silky with a plummy, dense mid palate, good length and pretty, floral finish. A clear step up and a wine that needs a bit more time in bottle to show its very best.

Poggerino Chianti Classico Riserva Bugialla 07 Poggerino try to make a softer style that will improve over 8-15 years. 2007 was a warmer and riper year in Chianti, which explains the extra silk and power here. Chocolate, rich, fruitcake a hint new worldly fruit, caramel/oaky notes. There is so much flesh and silk here. Great mouthfeel, vibrant flavours and good tannic stucture. It is easy to see the family resemblence! So drinkable but so much promise to be even better it time.

Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 08 Another vineyard oriented selection with the aim to make a tannic wine that will improve in the bottle and be amazing in 20 years. 2008 was similar to 2006 in offering classic conditions for growing. Rich, ripe, oxy fruits, minerally, red berry, spice. The palate was dark, tart, tea leafy with a good balance of bright fruits, savoury elements, clean acid and fine tannic structure. Beautiful.

Cheese and Coffee Formaggi Misti – Selection of Italian cheeses with Mallee honey from Kangaroo Island, plum jam, potato bread & Happy fruit

Super Tuscan, super drinking.
If you want to contrast, why not start with the best?
Conti Costanti Brunello di Montalcino 07 There is an aura around Brunello wines and I swear there was a little halo above my glass. This wine did not disappoint. Again 07 was a warmer year in Brunello but it did not detract from the wine. The intensity was certainly increased but not at the expense of subtly and freshness. Very savoury, almost gruyere cheese like, meaty, spice nose. Lots of silky fruit, caramel oak, clean acid with hints of cola. This wine is finely structured, boney and youthful. It needs time.

Brancaia Il Blu 08 A look at the Super Tuscan style. This is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 45% Merlot and 5% Cabernet. It was clearly different with the Sangio definitely taking a back seat to the Cab family. Very vibrant and dense nose of blue and black fruits, floral hints, caramel oak, spice, tart, fruit cake, and terracotta like notes.
The palate is rich, silky with a fair whack of young cabernet like tannins. The core of the wine had a great intensity and the wine lingered for a long time. Again, this is just a baby.

After some discussion we moved on to traditions and what you would traditionally finish a meal with in Tuscany. So Michael generously shouted us some Vin Santo – A sugar rich, high intensity wine that was as fascinating to drink as hear about how it was made. Then some unusual wine/grappa macerated with herbs from Piedmont which seemed to divide the table. It was compelling but hard to imagine when you would drink it.

And because more is more up came a two litre bottle of Nonino Grappa for those who were brave (or fool hardy?).  As it turns out it was a lovely, cleansing and fitting end to a great night.

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