I usually don’t do well with Italian wines at tastings.
In the absence of food, family, and comfort—where the wine is free to flow and let itself be known—they can sometimes seem out of place. Weighed down by any perceived shortcomings. I know this seems like an odd generalization, but some wines come across very well at tastings—none of which are stylistically Italian. So, I was actually surprised when I walked away with the La Selvanella Chianti Classico after the last tasting I attended.
This is a massive production wine: 20,000 cases a year. After being in Oregon where production numbers are often measured in hundreds, this is quite a departure.
It is also one of the better Chiantis I’ve ever had.
It is showing some really elegant red fruit, amiable mouthfeel, rainy minerality, and a nice bit of spicy cinnamon of the Red Hots variety on the nose. There is very little oak on the palate as a result of 50 hectoliter casks it was aged in—I have no idea how big that is, but it sounds sizable—and left to age for 30 months. Yes, 30 months! 2.5 years. An impressive length of time that is no doubt responsible for highly developed character flavors and lengthy linger on the palate.
Carey made a unique connection with this wine. After inquiring, she told me that this wine was like “a fat flirt, a rotund playboy, unintimidating and charming.” I had no idea what this meant.
She simply explained that it reminded her of a handsome, well-dressed, yet overweight man who can flirt and charm with outstanding confidence and, despite his girth, make otherwise speculative ladies swoon. Genius! She is exactly right. But I honestly have no idea how to explain why. Certainly, her comparison wouldn’t apply to the bitter, earthy ruggedness (she and) I often associate with Chianti.
La Selvanella is probably a fairly easy wine to come across. It has a long-established string of successful vintages and a reasonable price point of about $22.