We covered a wonderful Spanish Rioja in our last Decanter post. In this column, we move eastward across the sunny Mediterranean to discuss a personal favorite: Italian Chianti. Specifically, the 2012 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico Riserva ($30-$35). Chianti is named not for the Sangiovese grapes of which it is made but for the eponymous region of Tuscany from which it hails. The region is known for its rolling hills, and rocky, mineral-based soil, leading to the particular characteristics one finds in Chianti wine.
What makes Chianti “Riserva?” Well, there are four categories of Chianti produced, in ascending order of prominence: Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG, Chianti Classico Riserva and Chianti Classico Gran Selezione. Chianti is the primary winemaking region of Tuscany, and its wines are strictly regulated. The Sangiovese grape is native to Tuscany and central to Chianti.
The DOCG stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita which is Italy’s certified guarantee of proper Tuscan winemaking from Sangiovese’s native historical region. Combined with the kosher supervision of Terra di Seta, you will find yourself drinking some of the most regulated wine in the world!
The Chianti Classico Riserva, as we are discussing here, has two qualifying additional features: The wine must be from more premium grapes, and it must be aged for up to 24 months in the barrel plus three additional months in the bottle before it can hit the shelves. (Terra di Seta also produces a Chianti Classico DOCG and a Gran Selezione. If you decide to purchase the Gran Selezione, practice some patience, and store it on its side in your cellar for several years.)
Terra di Seta is part of an organic farm situated in central Tuscany. It’s a family venture between Daniele Della Seta and his wife, Maria Pellegrini. The Della Seta roots can trace 2,000 years of Jewish lineage in Rome while the Tuscan Pellegrini side can claim three generations of winemaking. The family purchased its winery in 2001 and began to produce kosher wine in 2008.
Tasting Notes & Pairings
The 2012 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico Riserva is 100 percent Sangiovese, aged for 18 months in medium-toasted French oak barrels, followed by a minimum of three months of bottle aging.
The care and attention to making beautiful Italian wine is readily apparent with the first taste. The wine is dark red, with a nose of smoky earth. The mouth is filled with heavy, rich tannins, beautiful balanced acid and distinct cherry fruit. The Riserva has plenty of life left to live, and benefits greatly from time in your decanter or glass.
Chianti is known for being food-friendly, so feel free to explore different pairings. I paired mine with a sous vide steak with quinoa, olive oil and parsley, and enjoyed dinner with my lovely wife, who pairs with every wine.
Dr. Kenneth Friedman is a Baltimore-born kosher wine aficionado/connoisseur. He is known for his unsolicited wine advice and runs many local kosher wine tastings.