02/21/06 – Tuscany

By Jesse on February 21, 2006


This week is pretty ridiculously exciting, because we’re moving on to Tuscany, which the Wine Bible calls “the quintessential Italian wine region.”  Tuscany is known for Chianti and for two other red wines, but its output of whites is very low.  Therefore, we’ll be condensing the Tuscany region into one meeting, since the whites probably wouldn’t justify their own session.  If you do happen to find a Tuscan white in the wine shop, feel free to bring it so we can at least get a sample.  Just make sure it’s cold, because it won’t have time to chill in the fridge, since we’ll want to drink any whites we have before we get to the reds (remember, “white before red, no pain in the head.  Red before white, yeah fucking right”).  I just made up that saying, but it’s definitely true.

Tuscany‘s most important grape by far is Sangiovese, and this grape alone is responsible for the majority (if not the entirety) of the content of Tuscany‘s three important red wines: Chianti, brunello di Montalcino, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.  Chianti, the most famous, is the wine that used to be imported to the US in those straw-covered bottles that would then be used as candle holders (think “Lady and the Tramp” for a nice Italian ethnic stereotype complete with Chianti candle bottle).  The wine also used to be characterized by the dilution of the sangiovese grape with tasteless white grapes.  In the past few decades, both practices have been significantly diminished, and now Chianti makes some delicious and complex wines, even if the bottles aren’t cool anymore.  The next one, brunello di Montalcino (the lowercase “b” is correct, don’t ask me why), is Tuscany‘s most revered wine, and also the rarest and most expensive — props to anyone who brings one.  (For those who are wondering, “Brunello” is dialect for the nice dark one.)  The last Tuscan red is Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which basically means noble wine of Montepulciano, a Tuscan village.  Just to confuse people, there’s also a grape called Montepulciano, used in the production of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (montepulciano from the village of Abruzzo).  Be careful about that one.

Bullet points for those too lazy to read:

Buy either
–brunello di Montalcino
–Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (NOT montepulciano d’Abruzzo)
–or a white Tuscan (if you’re a badass)

We’ll be meeting at Kate and Brett’s swanky Hollywood pad, (extremely swanky), apartment #1, zipcode 90038.  It’s near Fountain, in between La Brea and Highland.  Meeting time is, as always, 9 PM.  It’s probably gonna be a pretty big meeting, so anyone who can, please bring a few extra glasses.  Other than that, just bring a nice Tuscan and your bad selves.  See you Wednesday—