In Search of "California Chianti"

QUESTION: Do any American wineries make Chianti? That’s our favorite wine to have with lasagna.

ANSWER: Just as the only “real” Champagne comes from the Champagne region of France, the only “real” Chianti comes from Italy. But that didn’t stop a number of California wineries from calling their generic red wines “Chianti,” particularly prior to the 1970s.

Those “jug wines” not only weren’t real Chianti, they weren’t anything like real Chianti.

As American vintners and the wine-drinking public began to embrace “varietal” wines–those featuring a specific grape variety on the label–“Chianti” of a sort was legitimized in California.

We speak of Chianti’s heritage variety: Sangiovese.

California Sangiovese bottlings are fairly easy to find, but be aware that the quality spectrum is quite wide. Too many California Sangiovese vineyards are planted in rich soils that are better suited for summer squash than winegrapes. The soils promote excessive growth, and too many grapes on a vine can rob the fruit of flavor concentration.

The result: drinkable but unexciting wines.

But Vinesse can help, as Sangiovese bottlings are featured in our clubs and are Tasting Panel-approved.

Posted in Wine FAQ
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