Chianti was brought to the attention of many Gen Xers not by the partaking of a wine from the region in central Tuscany but, instead, by Dr. Hannibal Lecter describing how he once ate a man’s liver with fava beans and a “nice Chianti.”
The fleshy and succulent 2009 FELSINA Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva is a wine that Dr. Lecter would find delectable. The predominant grape varietal is one of the world’s “noble grapes,” Sangiovese. Being a “Classico” means the wine is comprised of no less than 80% Sangiovese. Being a “Riserva” means the wine has undergone a minimum of 2 years aging in oak, at least 3 months of bottle fining, and the alcohol content exceeds 12.5%. You might also ask: what’s the deal with the black chicken on the neck of the bottle? It’s a rooster, actually, and it relates to a 13th century legend concerning a border dispute between Florence and Siena. As the story goes, horsemen were to depart from each city when a rooster began to crow and wherever they met would establish the border. Siena commissioned the services of a white, well-nourished rooster while Florence chose an undernourished, starving black rooster. The Siena rooster crowed at dawn while its counterpart began to crow much earlier in the day, likely due to its famished state. As a result, Florence gained a significant head start and a more favorable border. Today, the black rooster serves as the seal of the Chianti region, and it also represents the strict government regulations that are intended to uphold the reputation of Chianti Classico.
As for this Chianti’s characteristics, its color is garnet and it is fragrant with strawberry and leather on the nose. The strawberry continues on the palate along with rose petal, red raspberry and cherry. A hint of oak adds depth to the wine’s delectable flavor profile, which leans more towards fruity and less earthy, with medium tannins that do not overpower. Though the finish is not interested in lingering too long, the wine ends on an elegant note. Up to an hour’s decanting benefits this (and most) Chianti greatly.
My recommended food pairing isn’t quite what cannibal and serial killer Dr. Lecter would advocate. However, a buffalo mozzarella or burrata Caprese salad, prosciutto or steak tartare should prove suitable if you happen to have “an old friend for dinner.” –R.K.