Saturday, May 19, 2012

Chianti Classico: Italian reserve

Tommaso Marrocchesi Marzi, dapper in a three-piece, pin-striped suit, is pouring his wines at the Cheese Cellar, at the foot of the Space Needle. He and his brother, Federico, are the fifth generation of the family-owned Tenuta di Bibbiano estate in the Chianti Classico hills of Tuscany, midway between Florence and Siena.

It's a 500-acre estate in the rolling hills of Tuscany, full of olive trees and vineyards. Young Tommaso, with a degree in business and economics, has been in charge for the past 12 years.

From the 50 vineyard acres in production, Bibbiano produces roughly 10,000 cases of wine, the best part being about 15,000 bottles a year of Chianti Classico Riserva from the vineyard called Vigna del Capannino. It's named for the family's shooting blinds on the steep hillside; grandpa, it seems, liked to bang away at pigeons.

The wines are what you'd expect of long-established Chianti Classico vines: the rich, plummy flavors of Sangiovese Grosso grapes, 16 months of oak aging, a textbook Chianti Classico. What's unexpected is the price: $28. It could be the best bargain in Seattle.

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