Celebrating Chianti Day
National Chianti Day takes place on the first Friday of September each year, and this day is one we are delighted to celebrate! For anyone who needs some background information on this classic wine and why it’s worth exploring, read on.
First of all, the name “Chianti” does refer to a varietal, like “Cabernet Sauvignon” or “Syrah” does. Instead, Chianti refers first to the region that it comes from. The Chianti region is nestled into Tuscany in central Italy and boasts over 34,000 acres of vines in its main zone. To compare, the Livermore Valley wine region has only 4,000 acres of vines!
Though Chianti refers first to the region, there are also regulations surrounding what varietals can bear the label “Chianti.” Though rules have fluctuated, Chianti wines must be at least 80% Sangiovese, the signature varietal of the region. Until 1996, however, Chianti was required to have other varietals blended in, but now 100% Sangiovese iterations are permitted—and delicious. Blending wines included French varietals like Cabernet, Merlot, and Syrah, as well as Italy’s prolific white wine Trebbiano.
Chianti is insistently its own wine, unique and set apart from other red wines, because of the Sangiovese grape. These grapes have very thin skins (which are what give color to red wines), which results in a beautiful, bright ruby red hue. Sangiovese offers juicy fruit flavors, especially red and black cherry and wild strawberry. Depending on the winemaking style, you can also find fun accent notes like fresh herbs, spice, smoke, and even espresso. Oak aging imparts earthy and savory notes to this wine as well.
One feature of Sangiovese that you will also find in Chianti is that these wines are easy to drink young, but well-crafted ones improve over 5-10 years. These wines are truly an absolute delight to drink, especially with food. After all, Italian wine should be enjoyed with good food! Due to naturally high levels of tannin and acid in Sangiovese, Chianti is especially suited to pairings of all kinds, but shines alongside luxurious charcuterie, duck, lamb, pork, and even poultry and creamy pasta dishes. The quintessential Italian pairing for Chianti for an ambitious chef is Bistecca alla Fiorentina. This beef dish is tender and succulent, and a perfect companion to Chianti wine.
If you are a fan of Chianti or simply curious about this wine, then we have good news! True to our moniker as a “Cal-Ital” winery, we offer wines inspired by Italian classics, grown right here in California’s Livermore Valley. Try our Landmark Sangiovese or our Riserva Sangiovese to dive into this world of delicious wines and pairings galore! For anyone looking to advance even more, try our Club-exclusive blends that prominently feature Sangiovese: Amuleto & Centanni Rosso.