La Maialina Chianti Classico Riserva (2007)

Everyone knows one of those people. You know, the ones who know everything about everything. Who act like rock stars. Who act like when they decide to open their mouths, they are dropping some pearl of wisdom on the group that the rest of us are lucky enough to have heard.

I’ve known many people like this over the years, but one always comes to mind when I think about Chianti. This guy isn’t the worst example of this personality type that I’ve encountered, but he’s still a bit too far on the cocky side of the cocky/confident line. He’s a smart, successful guy, but instead of just being satisfied with that, he feels the need to make sure everyone he meets knows it.

What does this have to do with Chianti? A few years ago, I attended a professional networking event that this rock star guy (RSG) also attended. Afterwards, a few of us decided to grab a drink and bite to eat. We settled on a nondescript Italian cafe because it was a nice night and they had a decent patio.

After RSG loudly declared that he wanted to drink some good wine, one of the people we were with took it upon herself to order a few bottles of wine to share (not an easy task, especially when you don’t know everyone well). When she first suggested a Chianti, RSG said “Nah, I don’t like Chianti”. She then asked, “well, what do you like?”, to which he responded, “I like Sangiovese, Cabernet…” (and maybe one or two other varietals). Being probably the most knowledgable person about wine at the table (but not one to flaunt it, at least publicly), I had a good hearty chuckle to myself. A bolder person might have stood up and shouted “Fraud! You’re outed pal! You don’t like Chianti, but you like Sangiovese?! Chianti is made from Sangiovese! Have some of that, wine boy!”

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with not knowing that Chianti is primarily made with Sangiovese, but if you are trying to pass yourself off as some kind of wine expert (which RSG clearly was), you ought to know that basic fact.

All this said, RSG may have had an unintentional point. The more Sangiovese-based wine I try, the more I realize that the grape can shine in a variety of scenarios outside of Chianti. There is some great Chianti, sure, and I don’t really think one can truly dislike Chianti and like Sangiovese, but many Chiantis can be too simple and acidic. This is part of what Chianti is, and why it is a great food wine. But sometimes it is just a bit too much.

Tasting Notes:

Rather tight aroma, even after being open for 2 hours. Classic Chianti leather, with a hint of grass. Taste is unripe fruit – tart cherries, strawberries, maybe even cranberries. Leather note returns on the finish. Tannins are firm but not all that strong, but this wine is assertively acidic. Overall, this is a well made, if unremarkable wine. Personally I don’t love the super-high acidity here, but that’s certainly a Chianti signature.