Thursday, July 5, 2018

Cecchi wines showcase heritage of Chianti with a fresh approach

"We believe in Sangiovese for Chianti Classico."  It was a declaration of commitment, passion, and heritage from fourth-generation Tuscan winery owner Andrea Cecchi.  The gregarious Italian was in New York City to commemorate his winery's 125th anniversary by showcasing current vintages of his Cecchi wines at a media dinner at Casa Nonna.

But first, there was the winery's very fine Vermentino from their La Mora line, from an estate in Maremma, a wine-making region on the rise in Italy.  This crisp, medium-bodied white with lemons and almonds on the palate had refreshing acidity that washed down our starter of cheese flatbread.   

And then, the range of Chianti was presented. We began with the 2015 Storia de Famiglia Chianti Classico.  All of the Chianti names remind us that "famiglia," i.e. family, is essential to Cecchi wine production.  Created from 95 percent Sangiovese and 5 percent Colorino, it is fermented in stainless steel instead of the traditional oak to retain freshness.  This wine had a black cherry nose, while on the palate there was mouth-filling dried cherries and baking spices lifted by fresh acidity. 

We then moved on to the 2014 Riserva di Famiglia Chianti Classico Riserva, comprised of 90 percent Sangiovese and 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.  This was a bigger wine redolent of cherry and blackberry with a medium-long finish.  This wine struck a good balance between depth of flavor and freshness. 

And then there was the top offering, a 2015 Valore di Famiglia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, which is brand new to the U.S. market.  This top level of Chianti must come from estate fruit.  The Cecchi Gran Selezione offered ripe black cherries on the nose, while the palate echoed juicy cherry flavors drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  The wine had a long finish and still offered the refreshing acidity of the other levels of Chianti from Cecchi.  I gave this vibrant pour four stars. 

Throughout the meal, Andrea discussed the trends that had shaped the Chianti region in the last few decades.  While some winery owners had gone in the direction of building their own brands in the Super Tuscan space (abandoning the great Sangiovese traditions along the way), he advocated investing in the region as a whole.  A member of the Consorzio Chianti Classico, Andrea said he wants to "reclaim the greatness of Sangiovese" in the Chianti area.  His range of wines, culminating in his Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, do just that. 

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