Also known as Tesco’s generic Chianti Classico. One of the things I’ve been amused by on my visit to the UK is the reorientation required when browsing supermarket wine aisles. Italian, Argentinian, Chilean and South African wines all seem to vie for cheapest spot, while the Aussies are off to one side with either unexpectedly expensive wines (for example, Jacob’s Creek) or really boring looking labels that seem to equate “export only” with a complete lack of personality on the shelf. Meanwhile, Tesco’s shelves seem heavily occupied with its own “selections” that encompass the usual regional suspects: Rhône, Burgundy, Bordeaux and various Italian regions, including of course Chianti.
So, browsing my local Tesco Express last night, I decided to do as the locals do and pick up a bottle of Tesco’s 2008 Chianti Classico to go with an Italian meal my host was preparing. There are few wines I prefer to drink with robust food more than a good Chianti, and I was curious to see how Tesco’s buyers had chosen to navigate the dangers of overcropped Sangiovese with their selection.
As it turns out, not all that well. Despite being varietally correct, this wine shows a degree of dilution that robs it of a lot of enjoyment. Sharp aromas of red cherries, twigs and raw almonds on the nose. It’s what I’d expect from such a wine, perhaps a little simple, but certainly correct. And volume isn’t the problem; what’s there is expressive. It’s just so thin, lacking in the kind of meaty density that makes any wine enticing to smell.
Again, totally correct with very attractive flavours on the palate; some marzipan thrown in amongst a big hit of sour cherries and vanilla. I’m also pleased with the wine’s mouthfeel, as it shows just enough of the rusticity that I look for in Sangiovese. But oh, how dilute are the flavours! It’s really quite tough to sit with a wine that hints at such satisfaction but which never actually delivers. Each mouthful is a struggle to get what I need from it.
Often, “food wine” is code for “not very good.” For me, though, food wines often bear the heaviest burden, as they must live up not only to their own potential but that of the meal too. The exceptional quality of my meal last night made this wine’s shortcomings even less acceptable.
Casa Vinicola Luigi Cecchi & Figli