Italian Pick of The Week: Chianti Classico
Benini 2006 “Sassotondo”, Maremma Toscana IGT
The Tuscan Maremma is becoming the place to go for lighter, softer reds, a contrast to earthy Chianti Classico and brooding Brunellos. In the airy hills of Grosseto province Sangiovese is known as Morellino, which has become a popular alternative to other wines from the hundreds of Sangiovese permutations.
Morellino is not the only grape in town. Ciliegiolo is so named for aromas and pigmentation reminiscent of cherries. For many years it was a minor blending varietal, its low level of acidity and docile nature a counterweight for fuller, more tannic wines.
“Sassotondo” (circle of stones) is a blend of 90% Ciliegiolo and 10% Alicante from the Pitigliano region. It spends no time in barrel and very little in bottle, giving it freshness and enhancing the already fruity, soft characteristics of the grape. Cherries predominate on the nose and in the mouth, joined by darker fruit and a touch of peppery spice mid-palate. Mild tannins add just enough dryness to offset cedary smoothness, leading to an unfiltered finish that maintains the overall sense of roundness.
Memorable? Probably not. But just what summer calls for as a complement to lighter pasta dishes or white meats either grilled or roasted.