Monday, May 23, 2011

Melini Borghi d'Elsa Chianti, 2009

This is an old fashioned wine with an old fashioned label selling for an old fashioned price. It's precisely the kind of wine I seek out. Yet this excellent Chianti sits unnoticed by those seeking out the latest, most trendy, international-style wines.

When I popped the cork and poured a glass at an outdoor gathering, someone nearby asked, "What's that beautiful smell?" "No, not the flowers," I answered, "It's the wine." Floral/cherry/red berry aromas are overwhelming. And the flavors are the same. It's medium bodied with the lively acid and skin tones I expect from a good, traditionally made Italian wine. There are plenty of tannins in this wine, but they are skin tannins, and the acid level keeps them from blocking out those wonderful flavors. The wine is as soft as velvet on the palate, and the finish is long and fruit oriented.

Melini Borghi d'Elsa is made basically the same as it was when it was first imported into the United States right after World War II. The grapes are the traditional Chianti blend--80% Sangiovese plus 10% Canaiolo Nero, 7% Malvasia and 3% Trebbiano--from vineyards near San Gimignano. Super Tuscan winemakers scorned this blend when they started using more noble grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and their wines are highly regarded in the international wine world. This is not a Super Tuscan, and the winemaker has not been canonized as a Super Hero by Robert Parker or Steve Tanzer. There is nothing at all Super about this wine, but it's damn good. And it sells for $6.99.

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