I Love Organic Wine - A Moderate Priced ChiantiWe have reviewed many Italian wines and at least two Chiantis, one that cost about $20 and another at half the price. As you may well know, Chianti has evolved over the years and what was once considered a mere table wine now shares Italy's top wine designation with both great and not so great wines. This Chianti is not traditional; it comes from organic grapes and is not aged in barrels. Furthermore, it is Certified Organic by the Italian agency ICEA, Instituto Certificazione Etica e Ambientale (Institute for Ethical and Environmental Certification).
The producer La Castellaccia is located in Tuscany halfway between Florence and Sienna. They use organic fertilizer and the grapes are hand picked. Check out their website for more information on their production process. Interestingly enough these people also run a stud farm for a horse breed that originated in Turkmenistan.
OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.
Wine Reviewed La Castellaccia Chianti Colli Senesi 2007
13.7% alcohol about $15.50
Let's start by quoting the marketing materials.
Description: Our Quality Assurance Laboratory has determined this wine contains 25 mg/L of free sulphur.
Tasting Note: Generous and finely made using traditional Chianti grapes of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Ciliegiolo, from the Siena hills, this Chianti breaks with tradition by using no oak ageing. There are intense aromas of blackberry, blueberry and spice. Dry, excellent fruit core with an equally impressive freshness for balance. Full-bodied with a long fruit-forward finish. Almost New World in style. Enjoy with spaghetti and meatballs. (VINTAGES panel, Nov. 2008) And now for my review.
The first sips indicated quite a bit of fruit. There didn't seem to be any tannins. The initial food pairing involved an overcooked commercial barbecued chicken breast, a tomato and garlic salsa, and potatoes roasted in chicken fat. In the presence of the meat the wine was a bit thin but spicy. With the salad the wine's fruit started to come out. In the presence of the potatoes the wine's acidity was brushed with harshness but I did taste some black cherry.
The second pairing involved slow-cooked beef ribs with sliced potatoes. The Chianti was harsh and not at all round. There was some tobacco but I also noticed an aftertaste. I swirled the wine vigorously to get rid of the aftertaste but then the Chianti became thin. When I added some jalapeno sauce to the meat the wine actually improved, showing more fruit.
The final meal centered around a Middle-Eastern specialty kube, also called kibbeh. This is ground beef in crushed bulghar jackets with an acidic broth containing Swiss chard. I tasted some tobacco and the wine was fairly round, but thin.
Probably the best part was the cheese pairings. When tasted with a yellow cheddar, the Chianti was round and fruity. The tannins weren't present. With a Swiss emmenthaler the wine picked up a bit.
Final verdict. I would not buy this wine again. Except for the cheese, the pairings were not quite up to snuff. The bargain Chianti was better, independent of the price. Maybe I miss the oak.
Over the years Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but really prefers drinking fine German wine, along with friends and the right foods. He teaches sundry computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his global wine website http://www.theworldwidewine.com with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about (theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.