Vino & Veritas: A fine Chianti

BY DUNCAN CHAISANGUANTHUM

Michael

After surviving a pass/fail, repeatable Wills & Trusts exam and a rough two-day-a-week class schedule, Duncan and I settled down with two bottles of Chianti and the WB’s Tuesday Night lineup before us.

Before I get to the Chianti, allow me to plug the WB’s Tuesdays, particularly Smallville, a show about young Superman. Set in Kansas but filmed in Vancouver, this show rivals Buffy with drama, romance, and boatloads of teenage angst. The show features the incomparably beautiful Kristen Kreuk as Lana Lang. Also interspersed throughout the commercial breaks are at least four airings of her Neutrogena ads. Finally, the show features quotes like “The road to darkness is a journey, not a light switch,” delivered in the classic WB style – with the unnaturally long pauses, excessive eye darting and exaggerated earnestness that reminds you of your high school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

As for chianti, there are a few things you need to know. Chianti and Chianti Classico are areas in the Tuscan region of Italy along the coast and the wine is made primarily from the sangiovese grape. Chianti tends to be very dry, acidic, and medium-bodied. Typical flavors include spicy fruit and cherries. Bad chianti, like the 2000 Ruffino, will taste thin and watered-down, while good Chianti is known for having highly concentrated fruit flavor.

A few simple guidelines are helpful for enjoying Chianti. Look for bottles labeled “Chianti Classico.” Wines from that zone tend to be better than other chianti. Look for bottles with “Riserva,” as well, as such bottles generally must be held by the wineries longer and generally have better cellar potential.

Finally, have chianti with food. This wine is known for pairing well with food, particularly because it is not overwhelming.

2000 Ruffino Chianti ($10.95): Miserable. Watered down and thin tasting with hints of citrus fruit and tomato. Very musty nose and very acidic.

1998 Villa Antiviori Chianti Classico Riserva ($21.99): Pleasant. A nose of blueberries and hints of tobacco. Good structure but unusually sweet.

Impress Your Date/Eight-Year Old Brother: Sangiovese’s Latin name is “sanguis Jovis” which means blood of Jupiter.

Duncan

 

I must preface my remarks with a confession: I think Kristin Kreuk is cute. She has beautiful skin, adorable mannerisms, and the Asian-Dutch genetic combo gave her marvelous cheekbones (I love high cheekbones!). There – I’ve said it.

She is emphatically not, however, the hottest woman alive, contra Chaisanguanthum. For one thing, she has a snaggletooth (check out her left canine). For another, she is too lacking in, shall we say, womanly attributes to qualify as “hot,” much less the “hottest woman alive.” And let’s not forget that she stars on a show that could only survive on the WB.

However, from his burning-loin feelings about Ms. Kreuk our female readers can learn this much about my cohort in wine, Mike C.: He digs ladies who look young, have round faces and straight, black hair (i.e. Asians), and are shorter than he. If you match these descriptors, have faith! You might hook an oenologically gifted Asian man with unfathomable intellect and depth of passion. But you could end up with Mike, too.

On to the chianti. Chianti is most easily recognized when served in cozy little Italian restaurants in those Orangina-on-‘roids bottles, bulbous-bottomed and clad in straw baskets. The flavor of most chianti is not nearly so appealing as those bottles, though, and the best chianti has always resided in Bordeaux-shaped bottles. This week we review two Bordeaux-shaped bottles of chianti, one of which was a winner, the other not so much.

2000 Ruffino Chianti ($10.95): Syrupy-sweet currant on the nose. Nice, slow, medium-thick legs. Flavor is lacking; generically sweet (a bit of the currant follows through to the palate), with a wet cardboard aftertaste (no, I don’t eat wet cardboard). Hardly distinguishable from water.

1998 Villa Antiviori Chianti Classico Riserva ($21.99): Currant and dark berries with noticeable alcohol on the nose. Thin, runny legs. Light tannins and slightly astringent, with the flavors on the nose nicely carrying through the palate – and with a pleasant finish.

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