“Fruit of the vine and work of human hands.” taken from the Catholic Mass.
FANTINI wines are part of the larger wine producing family, Farnese. Based in Abruzzo, Italy, this family has vineyards and wineries in various places around the boot. This sangiovese is a product of the region known as the “Terre di Chieti,” or the “Province of Chieti,” which was created in 1995 when the IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) category was first introduced. This wine is more location specific, focusing on the hills around the city of Chieti, the provincial capital. Production regulations are much looser with the IGT designation than they are with the DOC or DOCG designation, so these wines can range from dry whites, to sweet roses and sparkling reds. But the majority are dry red table wines made from a handful of local grape varieties.
In searching for wines I do have a strong propensity to favor the Italians. I guess partly because of my heritage and a long association with wine, but also and more importantly, because I really do feel that country produces wine more as an historic love affair rather than just a product. Of course it is a business. I’m not that naive. But when you have a business and you can produce a product of which you are proud, a product of which your grandfather would be proud, you tend to take a more personal approach. I think that this is what is missing from too many things we produce today. From the time of the Romans, who brought wine-making techniques with them as they conquered the world up until today you will find that the majority of wineries in Italy are family owned and operated. That is a commitment to quality.
Throughout Europe winemaking has become more popular over the years and the art of winemaking has clearly spread across the globe. From Austria to Australia, from California to Washington State and all across the lower 48 states, wineries, good wineries, can be found. But for now, back to the titled wine.
Grapes for this wine are planted on a southeast facing slope in a soil which is mostly limestone and clay. Since the vines face this direction, they are subjected to an early morning sun and a very long day. This gives the grape a distinctive flavor as it matures quicker due to the dominant sun. The soil also lends an earthy quality to the grapes, which are destemmed and fermented for a time in stainless steel barrels before 15% of them are further fermented in oak barrels. Again, the flavor of the wine will borrow only the slightest bit of the oak so what you get is a dry, yet fruity wine with a deep purple color and only fairly strong tannins.
And now, for a bit of history. Farnese wines, or more specifically, wines from Abruzzo became famous in the 16th century thanks to Princess Margaret of Austria. She and her husband, Prince Farnese produced wines which were consumed at feasts and festivals throughout Europe. Through the centuries this wine has endured as they developed the reputation of using only the finest grape varietals, sourced locally from mountainside vineyards and grown under strict supervision with an eye to both quality and tradition. In the winery’s words, “We believe we cannot produce a great wine without constant supervision on behalf of expert winemakers. This is the reason that, for each vintage, Fantini employs six top winemakers to work in perfect harmony with the grapes and ensure they are turned into great wines.”
The sangiovese is light enough to be enjoyed on its own, but it does have a hearty side to it. It has some backbone to stand up to a real beef steak like a porterhouse or beef ribs, yet also complements game meats, venison and boar in particular very well.
I guess most of you know by now or at least have heard something about this virus sweeping the nation. I guess if we have to stay inside, may as well make it as pleasant as possible. Wine and cheese is a tremendous help in that regard. So make it something good, something you can comfortably enjoy. Keep in mind that price is not always the best judge of a good wine. Oh sure a $100 bottle will have characteristics that a $12 bottle can’t match. But if you can’t afford the more expensive bottle, a reasonably priced wine can add just as much comfort at a price you are comfortable with, thereby adding to the comfort-ability. So raise a glass, slice off a piece of cheese or some salami and turn on an old black and white movie. As they say, it don’t get no better than that.