Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Castello di Selvole: Traditional Chianti Classico?

Guido Busetto, the owner of Castello Di Selvole winery, couldn't tell me whether their Chianti Classico wines were crafted in a traditional or more modern style. Many other writers had asked him that very question but to Guido it was not an important question, or at least a question that he did not consider when producing his wines. His goal is simply to create wines without changing their essential characteristics. To me, his wines reflect a traditional style and that is something I like.

On the Friday before the Boston Wine Expo, I attended a media lunch at Gennaros' 5 North Square, where Chef Marisa Iocco now showcases her culinary skills. Representatives of two Italian wineries were at the lunch, both which would also present their wines at the Wine Expo. Marina Thompson, of Thompson International Marketing, stated that many Europeans view Boston as a city that is very European in style, possessed of elegance and culture. That is why many European wineries like to come to the city and present their wines. It feels much more like home to them than a huge and busy place like New York City.

Castello Di Selvole winery is located in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany, about 12 kilometers from the city of Siena. The winery possesses about 100 acres of vineyards and 23 acres of olive trees, so that they produce both wine and olive oil. They produce four different red wines and I had the opportunity to taste all four of them, three of them with lunch and the other at the Wine Expo. Guido began his wine career in Bordeaux, eventually deciding to purchase a vineyard in Tuscany. Guido was personable and knowledgeable, a passionate advocate for his wines. However, his wines stand well on their own, persuasive through their aromas and taste.

We began our lunch with a dish of Burratina Caprese, a delicious, creamy ball of burrata. With this dish, our first wine was the 2009 Castello di Selvole Chianti Classico (about $20). It is made from 100% Sangiovese, aged in French barriques for about 7-9 months and then aged for an additional three months in the bottle. With a rich, medium red color, it had an enticing aroma, a melange of cherry, spice and earth. On the palate, it was a powerful but elegant wine, with restrained tannins and a rich, deep flavor of black cherries, spice and a certain rusticness. An excellent food wine, this is the style of Chianti Classico which I prefer to drink. Lots of character for the price, I would recommend this wine.

The next course was Manicotti Italo-American, a crespelle filled with ricotta, spinach and nutmeg. Despite the spinach, I actually enjoyed this dish, with its nice blend of flavors and textures. For this course, the wine was the 2009 Castello di Selvole Chianti Classico Riserva, made from 100% Sangiovese, aged for 18 months in French barrique and 6 months in the bottle. This wine is just starting to be imported into the U.S. so it does not have a price yet though likely will be around $30 or so. This possessed everything that the basic Chianti Classico possessed, but with greater depth and complexity as well as a lengthier finish. This was my favorite wine of the lunch, an excellent example of the best of Chianti Classico, and it receives my highest recommendation.

The final entree was a hearty Veal Ossobuco, slow braised with fall vegetables. Tender, flavorful meat that went well with the hearty wines. I was initially concerned about the next wine, a Super Tuscan, the 2003 Castello di Selvole Berullo. It is an equal blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, which was vinified in concrete and spent 18 months in French barrique and 6 months in the bottle. I thought that maybe this wine might be more international in style, because of the Merlot and Cabernet France, but that turned out not to be the case. It had an inky dark color and a restrained nose, yet on the palate it was a more powerful and strong wine, yet was not jammy or over the top. There also were not any vegetal/green pepper flavors from the Cabernet Franc. Instead, there were pleasing tastes of plum, black cherry and black fruits, with a spicy backbone, nice acidity and a lengthy and satisfying finish. It too receives my hearty recommendation.

At the Boston Wine Expo, I had the chance to try the 2010 Selvole Sangiovese Toscano, made from 100% Sangiovese and which sees only stainless steel. It was light, fruity, and simple, an easy drinking wine that would be great with pizza or pasta. A very affordable value wine.

Look for the Castello di Selvole wines on your local wine shop shelves, especially if you enjoy more traditional Chianti Classico wines. They are excellent food wines, reasonably priced and should impress most wine lovers.

No comments: