09/18/07 – two Italian giants (Barolo vs. Chianti)

By Jesse on September 16, 2007


On August 8th we enjoyed a delicious selection of Italian varietals grown in the USA.  This week, we go back to the “home country,” as several wine club members might call it (you know who you are, all the Marcellos and Ferlazzos and Chapskis out there), to explore two of the most renowned and legendary wines the country has to offer.  Two names dominate any appreciation of the classic Italian reds: Barolo and Chianti.  This week, we’ll see if they live up to their billing.

Barolo is grown in Italy’s northwestern Piedmont region, and made exclusively from that most difficult and majestic of Italian red varietals, Nebbiolo (learn more here).  These wines tend to be deep of color, flavor and complexity, and often need some decanting because they’re so big and badass.  Barolo is often called Italy’s best wine, and I once heard someone call it the king of all wines or something.

Chianti, on the other hand, gets its reputation from years of being the go-to red wine of Italy — just think “Lady and the Tramp” or any other classic animated film that gets better the more you drink.  In recent decades, the quality of Chianti has vastly improved, and it’s no longer the much-maligned and watered-down stuff that it became in the 50s and 60s.  The best Chiantis are those that are labelled “Chianti Classico,” which, according to some website, refers to the most ancient area of production of the Chianti region… also, the wine contained therein is at least 80% Sangiovese, rather than 75% for regular Chianti.

Here’s a decent website with simple, approachable descriptions of both wines.  Give it a read — and bring some tasting notes along with your wine if possible.  Two days ahead of time!  Forty-eight hours!  C’mon people… make me proud.

We’ll be meeting at Daniella‘s house in Beverly Hills, which has an awesome backyard patio for us to enjoy.  Bring either a noble Barolo or a delicious Chianti (or a tasty $10 donation) and we’ll see you on Tuesday at 9:00.