Now, onto the elephant in the room–Chianti. What is surely one of the world’s most recognizable genres of wine is also one of the least understood. The broader Chianti zone is vast, with a dizzying amount of complexity to uncover–from legal requirements to soil type and climate, not to mention winemaking style and culture. Indeed, there is a lot to explore within Chianti. Though the heart of the zone is the ‘Classico’ zone where the best, most complex and long-lived expressions of Sangiovese, it’s the entry-level zone that offers the best value proposition. Though, because of its size, you have to know where to look. Castello Montauto’s 2016 Chianti is a classic example of how much Chianti deliciousness you can still get for a seriously reasonable price tag.
This 100% Sangiovese Chianti comes from the San Gimignano subsection of the appellation, situated at about 180 meters above sea level, with clay-based soils. It bears on the nose notes of ripe red cherries, macerated plums, and baking spices. Onto the palate the wine has sturdy tannins and ample acidity–a marker of great Sangiovese–with notes of white pepper, rose, and macerated red currants. It will pair beautifully with not only Italian-American fare, but also burgers and steaks. For a veritable Tuscan meal, try it with our recipe for Ribollita.
When a lot of us were introduced to Chianti, it was not as a super-complex, incredibly age-worthy wine. It was the perfect example of an everyday red wine, that was both crowd-pleasing and super versatile on the table. It wasn’t concerned about pomp and circumstance, but pleasure and refreshment. Now, there’s something special about the best of the best Chiantis. And, yes they are just as incredible as the best Barolo or Burgundy you might otherwise reach for. But, there’s something equally valuable in a simple but satisfying entry-level Chianti that checks all the boxes. This is that–everything you want, and nothing you don’t, all for a great price.