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Wine Review: Reminiscing about the good old days? Try a Chianti

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I believe, as I am getting older, I find myself thinking of the past as the good old days.

I keep thinking about whitewall tires, 68 cents a gallon for gasoline and a time when it was considered impolite to discuss partisan politics in public. It was a time when you could eat almost anything without feeling guilty or counting calories and a time when new movies were only shown in theaters, had happy endings and didn’t scare a night's sleep out of you.

It also was a time when Chianti wine came in straw-basketed, bulbous bottles that, when emptied, served as a candle holder that didn’t look right until several generations of wax drippings encrusted them. Remember?

Unfortunately, those chubby bottles have almost completely disappeared from dealers’ shelves. Bottles and baskets, however, do not make a wine. Our old friend Chianti is still alive and well, but now in bottles that will easily fit into your wine rack. A great sales gimmick for the producers would be to supply a box of colored candles with each of the new bottles, just for old times’ sake.

Cecchi 2014 Chianti Classico Riserva ($48)
The grapes for this wine come from a family-owned vineyard in the specifically designated Chianti Classico region which, for years, perhaps even for centuries, has been noted for the quality of its fruit and its wines. This wine's aroma stresses violets, raspberries and cranberries, with oak and vanilla pleasantly lying in the background. The Cecchi 2014 Chianti Classico Riserva has a long and elegant finish. Couple all of that with the benefits gained by extra aging in the bottle and you have a regal wine that will prove why Chianti was so popular in the past.

Cecchi 2019 Chianti ($20)
This is the basic Chianti, made in the centuries-old traditional style of blending sangiovese grapes with native Tuscan grapes. It is a modern and well-made version of the age-old Chianti, resplendent with an intense berry and plum aroma and flavor and a fresh, clean finish. This product is very much a carbon copy of Chianti wines of years gone by. All that seems to be missing is the straw wrapping around that fat bottle. This wine is a perfect adjunct when reminiscing about the good old days and can even raise pizza to new heights of enjoyment.

Cecchi 2019 Storia Di Famiglia Chianti Classico ($27)
Storia Di Famiglia translates as history of the family and the wine that bears that name is definitely a credit to the Cecchi family that produced it. The wine's brilliant garnet color heralds the aroma of dried plums and wild flowers, with a hint of wild berries in the background. The flavor and finish are powerful, accenting blackberries, plums and an earthy flavor that has become synonymous with Chianti. This is an excellent wine that goes perfectly with red meats, veal dishes and, you guessed it, Italian foods of all types.

Cecchi 2017 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano ($42)
Leaving the world of Chianti but not leaving Tuscany, there is Cecchi 2017 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. This wine lives up to its name, which translates as noble wine of Montepulciano. The words royal and regal also could be added, and if this were the 18th century, this is a wine that probably would have been reserved for emperors, kings, queens, people with royal attachments to their names and the wine steward who would surreptitiously sneak a sip. The flavors and aromas that have made sangiovese wines so popular are presented here wrapped in a velvet robe. Red berries predominate, backed up by suggestions of violets, tobacco and leather.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at frojhe1@att.net.

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