Toscana – Chianti

We stayed in the Tuscany wine region this week to focus on the sub-region of Chianti. The Chianti DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita or controlled designation of origin) covers a vast area of Tuscany and all of the Chianti wine. This area reaches from near the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west, to the Florentine hills in the north, Arezzo in the east and to the Siena hills in the south.

The Chianti region has eight defined sub-zones:

• Colli Fiorentini – south of the city of Florence

• Classico – the center of Chianti across the provinces of Florence and Siena

• Ruffino – the northeastern part of the zone around the commune of Rufina

• Colli Arentini – in the Arezzo province in the east

• Colli Senesi – south of Chianti Classico in the Siena hills, which is the largest sub-zone and includes the Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano areas

• Colli Pisane – the western most sub-zone in the province of Pisa

• Montespertoli – located within the Colli Fiorentini around the commune of Montespertoli

• Montalbano – in the northwest part of the zone which includes the Carmignano area

A Chianti producer can label their wine with these sub-zone designations as long as all the wine in the bottle is grown within the outlined area. Anything grown outside the designation, but still within the Chianti region can be labeled simply as Chianti. The most exported Chianti comes from the Ruffino sub-zone, where the soils are marl and chalk and the elevated vineyards have a cooler climate. The wines produced here tend to be multi-layered and complex in style. Three of the top producers in the area are Ruffino, Antinori and Frescobaldi.

With over 130 years of winemaking, Ruffino produces some of the most widely sought after Chiantis, as well as other Tuscan wines. Headed up by the Folonari family, Ruffino was one of the first names in Chianti to cross the borders of Italy and make a name across the globe. They have been winning awards for their well-balanced wines since before 1900. The Ruffino Chianti is made in the Chianti Classico DOCG, with mostly Sangiovese and small amount of Malvasia Nera, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In addition to their basic Chianti, Ruffino also produces a reserva, called Ducale, which by law must be aged at least two years in wood and three months in the bottle prior to release. In the very best vintages, Ruffino also produces a special reserva called Riserva Ducale Oro that is considered one of the best and most affordable examples of great Chianti available in wide distribution.

Ruffino Libaio Chardonnay Toscana 2010

Appearance: brilliant straw yellow

Aroma: fresh meadow flowers, bread crust and olive oil notes, with a touch of citrus

Flavors: green apple, sage and dried orange peel and unripe pineapple

Finishing Notes: balanced and bone-dry

Ruffino Il Ducale Rosso Toscana 2008

Appearance: ruby red with violet reflections

Aroma: complex aromas of chocolate, cherry jam, orange peel, all spice, plums and tobacco

Flavors: all the fruit aromas appear in flavor profile with an herbal tone added

Finishing Notes: fruit flavors give way to round and elegant tannins

Food Pairing:

– Chardonnay: would pair nicely with most seafood and shellfish dishes, lighter or fish-based mousses, as well as olive oil based pasta dishes

– Rosso: pairs well with most game dishes such as rabbit, lamb and duck, also great with pasta with any red sauce based dishes

Perfect Pairing:

– Chardonnay: we would pair this with angle hair pasta tossed with extra virgin olive oil with a touch of fresh garlic and a mix of fresh shellfish (shrimp, clams, mussels)

– Rosso: we like this red with a hearty Bolognese over pappardelle pasta

WINE:30 is written by Karl Bradley and Jody Wuollett. Karl and Jody are both long time residents of Door County and are employed at the Mission Grille in Sister Bay. They have both been awarded the first level of certification from the Court of the Master Sommeliers.

Weekly Wine Trivia

What are the three appellations from Italy colloquially known as the “Killer B’s”?

Email your answer to Karl & Jody at [email protected]. The first correct answer in their inbox will receive a complimentary bottle of wine from them. Cheers!

Last week’s trivia: What is the English translation of the word Brunello?

Answer: Little Dark One

Congratulations to our winner for last week’s wine trivia, and thanks for all the responses! Good luck this week.