The native Tuscan Sangiovese is Italy’s most widely planted wine grape, known for its mid-weight wines that look more red than black in the glass.
The most famous wines are grown in the Chianti region, with many of the best examples coming from the small Classico district at its heart, just south of the city of Florence. Most Chiantis are blends that put the sangiovese in the starring role and can seem surprisingly tart and astringent on the first sip.
This is especially true when the winemaker takes a traditionalist approach to winemaking, as Castello di Albola does here, and all the more striking when the drinker is accustomed to the sweeter, fruitier wines of the Americas or the southern hemisphere. .
Italy’s traditional style of winemaking is quite different from how more modern wines are made. The grapes are harvested at a lower degree of ripeness to preserve their tangy acidity and pleasantly earthy flavor profile. During fermentation, flavor complexity and food friendliness take priority over flavor intensity and color extraction. At the maturation stage, the barrels used are both larger and older to minimize the “woody” flavors associated with aging the wine in smaller, newer barrels. These decisions result in wines like this that are bright and dry with flavors of sour cherries, pomegranates and oolong tea. Their very dry sharpness may read as a weakness at first sip, but quickly become an asset at the table, able to cut through the richness and salinity that accompanies exceptional Italian cuisine and provide the perfect counterpoint.
$14.99 13% alcohol
PLCB Item #6508
Sale price until 2/27 – regularly $18.99
Also available at these New Jersey stores:
Gloucester City bottle stop at Gloucester City, $13.99, bottlestopnj.com; Joe Canal in Lawrenceville, $14.99, lawrenceville.jcanals.com; and Mount Ephraim Canal, $14.99, mycanals.com.