Before I get into tonight’s wine, if you read my review of the 2007 Amavi Cellars Syrah from Friday, you’ll know that I was musing about why the 2005 Amavi Syrah tasted so different from the 2007 when so many of the variables going into it were the same, and I vowed to take to Twitter to get some answers right from the source. Lo and behold, the Information Age is a wonderful place to be, and the good people at Amavi have posted a tremendous and thorough response to my Syrah-related queries in the comments section of the review. So to recap, I had a bottle of wine in Calgary and then posted a blog article and a Twitter question, and then someone in Washington State who I’ve never met went and personally asked the head winemaker at Amavi Cellars what the difference was between his 2005 and 2007 Syrahs!! There is very little cooler than that. Thanks Amavi!
I wish I could say that tonight’s bottle has spawned Amavi levels of inquisitiveness and interest, but not quite. I’ll get to that in a moment. Chianti is a well-known wine region located in Tuscany, in west-central Italy, that has seen its share of ups and downs in recent decades. Once regarded as one of the cream of the crop of Italian vinicultural areas, it then became the victim of shoddy production and overplanting and lost its reputation for quality, which it is only now starting to regain. The problem with Chianti is that a lot of it is still pretty bland, although some of the higher-end renditions from the Chianti Classico region (the historic heartland of Chianti, which forms a smaller sub-zone within the larger area of Chianti) definitely can make you stop and take notice. The main thing you need to know about wines labelled as Chianti is that they will be predominantly made using the Sangiovese grape, a varietal that shows best in Tuscany and isn’t usually seen that much elsewhere (though it WAS in the 2009 Abbot’s Table from Washington State, if you’ll recall…I doubt you’ll recall).
This Chianti is not from the Classico subregion, so the grapes going into it can come from anywhere in the larger Chianti area. Rocco Delle Macie is the producer, and I’m guessing Confini is the name of the wine — for what it’s worth, according to Google and online translators, “confini” means “borders” or “frontiers”. The wine was strikingly light in the glass despite its relative youth, a transparent purple that faded to pale pink at the rim. It started promisingly enough on the nose, with a pleasant mix of red fruits and red flowers (strawberry, cherry, roses) along with a briny, minerally component on the tail end. I then took a sip and learned why a lot of old school Italian wines are made to drink with food and not by themselves: the Confini had WICKED, searing acidity that scorched my palate and ran roughshod over the other, more understated components in the glass. After going back and forth between it and a slice of pizza, and letting the acids in the wine mesh with the acids in the tomato sauce and cleanse away the creaminess of the cheese, I started to see the other flavours in the wine peek out — it was almost like watching a 3D movie without the special glasses for a minute or two before putting them on and having everything snap into focus. Not that the wine was a thing of beauty as soon as dinner entered the equation: after an initial nice mixture of red fruit and earth, it then gave way to a series of strange flavours, first salty, dill-like notes, then spiking bitter tannins, then a sort of metallic aftertaste. It did come together a lot better over a plate of food, but it wasn’t overly memorable.
$15 to $20 CDN