Far away, in a land dotted with olive trees and rows of vineyards, lies Tuscany, the American tourist capital of Italian wine country. If you travel this area during the summer, you’ll hear more English than Italian and see plenty of sandals, sweat-soaked t-shirts and bad fashion. You’ll likely even see neighbors from your block with the same romantic idea of visiting Tuscany for their summer vacation. (Hint: don’t go during the summer if you can avoid it and be sure to read my post on what to eat and do).
But Tuscany is also home to Chianti, likely the most famous wine region on the planet. The straw baskets have been discarded for sleek bottles and modern winemaking went mainstream here about 20-25 years ago. Santa Cristina, made by Italy’s Antinori wine family, is most definitely part of this modern revolution yet still maintains a traditional Chianti style. (Read my post on Italy’s vino reinvention)
You may have seen Chianti, Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva but perhaps not the Superiore label. Approved in 1997 for use on Italian wine labels, Superiore is made from grapes grown in the provinces of Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena in the Tuscany region. It must follow similar growing and production rules as Chianti Classico but Sangiovese (Chianti’s principal grape) is only 75%. Since it’s a newer approved DOCG, production is fairly limited but that will likely change in upcoming years.
It’s an approachable, easy drinking wine but maintains true Chianti character from start to finish. Classic, dusty red cherry, vibrant raspberry, tart, food-friendly acidity, low to medium tannins and a long, soft finish. It improves when allowed to sit in the glass and become one with the air, as do many Chiantis. A bit expensive but you’re paying for some quality wine making.
Sweetness=1 out of 10.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Price: $15- $17
Occasion: Sample sent from the winery and consumed with a plate of red sauce and italian sausage. Yep, it was good.
Availability: At high end wine shops, restaurants. Lots of online retailers are selling it too, including one place for $11.50 per bottle
Food pairing: Classic Italian red sauce dishes, lasagna, minestrone soup
One more post on Italy and how things are evolving there