Posted by: tomciocco | October 19, 2010


There are nearly a quarter bazillion producers of “Chianti” if one were to include every single label within the seemingly ever expanding  borders that bear the storied name. Unfortunately, those outside the Chianti boat, in clambering into it, have on some level diluted the reputation of this great appellation, while adding to the confusion as to just what “Chianti” is…

I just don’t feel like  going into all of the sub-zones and the long history of this world-famous region – it bears doing, but tomorrow’s another day. What I am going to do is ZOOM IN.

This wine from the Villa Cafaggio is a Chianti Classico. As the name implies, this is the traditional heart of Chianti production, full of all of the most famous estates, and still probably the finest of all of the Chianti zones. Of the multiple towns and frazioni (hamlets within towns) in Chianti Classico, the patch of earth called Panzano holds a special place. It’s a terroir thing. You know the drill: Panzano’s got that peculiar combination of soil, sun exposure, wind and weather patterns, etc. that notably and favorably influence wine quality. Narrowing the focus even further, Villa Cafaggio rests in the Conca d’oro (“golden shell”), a  rounded ridge in one corner of town that represents a true and prestigious micro-climate, and a terroir within a terroir…

Though now owned by a large, modern Italian wine group, this historic estate still makes Chianti in the way that Da Vinci or Pollaiolo would have recognized: no Merlot or Cabernet need apply, no barriques, just hand harvested Sangiovese, aged in large Slavonian oak casks, that with the blessings of this great soil, and a thousand year old tradition somehow capturing ina bottle sensations that could come from nowhere else in this world, period. If you couldn’t already tell this is one of my favorite Chiantis, especially considering price. This IS Chianti.

With this classic, I served classics: rotelle pasta with a mushroom, pea, cream and mint (just a touch) sauce, and then Petti di pollo alla parmigiana A.K.A. chicken parm, and pan-fried fagiolini (haricots verts)…

Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico 2006

Dusty deep garnet color with a slight purple cast. A rich, elegant, and complexly layered nose of cherry, cocoa, ripe strawberry, smoked bacon, leather, and a certain salty minerality. The palate is especially big and broad for not being a riserva, with a taut and fine-textured austere tannic frame balanced by a sweet and tart cranberry and watermelon fruit, cherry liquor, and licorice flavors. The wine finishes with a very nice length on finely scrapy tannins and earthy  flavors of toasted sesame seeds and aromatic spices.  



  1. We visited several vineyards in Tuscany, and learned how very special the Chianti Classico is. One of my favorite souvenirs from Italy is a vintage black rooster consortium poster. Tell Jen I said hi. 🙂

  2. Oh yeah, the Gallo Nero…Where do you have it hanging, in the kitchen?

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