The Bacchus Report: Tuscany - the heart
of Italian winegrowing
Written by: Libor Ševčík
The renown of Tuscany among lovers
of fine food and wine is rising just as precipitously as are prices
in this part of the Apenine Peninsula.
Italy is the largest wine producer in the world, with seventy-five
million hectoliters emerging from its vineyards each year. According
to EU guidelines it is included in Zone C - the southern states
- and it is further divided into three zones. Tuscany is in the
Mid-Italian zone, which also includes the Liguria, Ubria, Ambruzzi,
and Campanila areas. But none of them receive such international
acclaim for wine as does Tuscany. Everyone knows about ruby-red,
zesty Chianti that comes from here, as well as noble, full-bodied
Brunello di Montalcino.
Tuscany lies roughly between the cities of Florence, Pisa, Siena,
and Montalcino. This is where the most celebrated vineyards included
in the DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) category denoting
provenance, and the even higher classification DOCG (Garantita).
These wines were the first in Italy to receive this recognition
- Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino. The
most famed vineyard in Tuscany is probably Santa Kristina, which
is shaped like a fish, and the local Sangiovese grape is said to
be the best for making Brunello. There are over eighty thousand
hectares of vineyards in Tuscany, lying in regions whose names
themselves hold the promise of unusual experiences - Chianti Classico,
Chianti Rufina, Brunello di Montalcino, Nobile di Montepulciano,
Bianco di Pitigliano, Montefalco, Orvieto, Montefiascone, Cerveteri,
and Montecapatri. The vineyards are picturesquely laid out on hillsides,
dominated by lovely little towns, villages, and isolated settlements.
Grape vines are cultivated here up to the elevation of 700 meters
above sea level in rocky soil laced with shale, which gives the
wines their characteristic mineral overtones. The most widespread
varietal vine is Sangiovese, which yields the grapes from which
the world-renowned Chianti is produced, and in 14 townships the
cloned Sangiovese-Brunello, which is made into the famed, powerful
Brunello di Montalcino. To a far lesser extent other varietals
are grown here, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Trebbiano, Malvasia,
Gamay, Merlot, Sauvignon, and Chardonnay.
Detractors claim that most of the Chianti the world consumes has
only passed through Tuscany in tank trucks. Real Chianti can be
produced in only 45 townships in Tuscany. Famed, true and expensive
Chianti comes, for example, from the Antinori, Castello Querceto,
Fattoria Cusona of Prince Strozzi, and Monsanto. The finest Brunello
di Montalcino can be found in the cellars of Gaja, Villa Banfi,
Conti Constanti Frescobaldi, Lisini, and Altesino.
The author is the editor of Hospodářské
noviny's IN magazine.
Keep your opened "bubbly" full of bubbles - with
this screwpool pressurized stopper. CZK 1,200.
Available at: La Vecchia Bottega, OC Nový
Smíchov, Plzeňská 8, Praha 5
· Cellarius-Klub, Budečská 29, Praha 2
June 6 - Wines of South America (incl. Uruguay and Mexico). Introduced
by importer Vinicola.
June 26 - Neubauer firm presents Italian DOC and DOCG wines from
Veneto, Piemonte and Tuscany regions.
Participation fee and voucher for 300 Kč. Tel.: 222 515 243.
Probably every wine lover is fond of some vintage from Tuscany
and will staunchly defend their choices against wines from the
rest of the world. There are of course many more to be found, but
here's a selection to whet your palate.
Chianti DOCG, Titolato
Characteristics: A pleasant, typical Chianti that some
people are enthusiastic about and others rate as average.
Its aroma and flavor are suggestive of ripe black cherries,
and it goes excellently with pasta.
Price: 260 Kč
||Chianti Classico DOCG, Villa
Characteristics: A truly pure, classic Chianti from the finest
vineyards in Tuscany. Full, harmonious, and elegant, full-bodied
yet still pleasantly drinkable with a lovely, lengthy persistence.
Price: 550 Kč
Agriano, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG l991
Characteristics: This thirteen-year-old Brunello is still
glorious and fresh. Robust and full-bodied, with pleasant,
sweetish tannins. Its flavor is a pleasant blend of honey
notes with bitterish chocolate and a welcome spiciness.
Price: 1 350 Kč
||Lucente Montalcino 1998
Characteristics: This is yet another thriving off-spring of
the cooperation between Californian vintner Robert Mondavi
and the high-born Italian Marchesi de Frescobaldi. It's the
younger sister of the well-known Luce wine, made from hand-picked
grapes of the Sangiovese (43%), Merlot (43%), and Cabernet
Sauvignon (14%) varietals from the Montalcino vineyards.
A wine with an intense, glowing ruby color with the full
aroma of ripe dark fruits and a fine spiciness on the palate.
Price: 1000 Kč
All of these wines are imported by:
Global Wines, Václavské náměstí
53, Praha 1, tel.: 221 965 253 (4), www.global-wines.cz