In the immortal words of George Castanza... "I'm back baby!" I have been on a bit of a hiatus from wine writing the past 6 months. Now that I have completed my Executive Leadership Program at Seattle University it is time to get back to the wine business.
March is a great time to return too. It is Washington Wine Month AND one of the most stylish one day races takes place in Tuscany during the first weeks of March. The Strade Bianche covers nearly 200 kilometers that include 10 sections of white dirt and gravel roads. The strade bianche cover 54 of the 200 kilometers and make for some interesting racing.
This week's Lucha Vino matchup honors Italian bike racing flare with a classic Yakima Valley Sangiovese from Eight Bells winery taking on an old Chianti Classico from Tuscany.
2010 Eight Bells Sangiovese v. 2009 Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico
Tale of the Tape
2010 Eight Bells Sangiovese
100% Sangiovese sourced from the Red Willow Vineyard located in the Yakima Valley AVA.
Aged in 15% new barrels.
Purchased for $17.99 from Full Pull Wines
2009 Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico (PDF Tech Sheet)
100% Estate Grown Sangiovese
Aged for 18 months in second use barrels and another 6 months in bottle.
Purchased at Esquin for $18.99
Round 1. First Opening
The old timer from Villa Cafaggio struts toward the ring followed by an adoring entourage. The seasoned veteran gets straight to business with a flurry of classic Italian luchador style. The nose is showing floral dried cherries, earthy candle wax and dry cedar notes. The palate is similar with dried cherries and strawberries followed by hints of cedar and slightly tart earthy spices. The whole package is wrapped up with a very dry finish.
The Eight Bells Sangiovese is going toe-to-toe with the Italian challenger. The nose is slightly darker with notes of cherry, strawberry and earthy dark Asian spices. The palate is equally bold bringing some power to the party with cherries, earthy spices and a tart coffee bean finish.
The opening round was close. The judges awarded the round to the Villa Cafaggio on style points.
Round 2. One Hour after opening
With a victory in round one the Villa Cafaggio is developing some serious swagger. The nose is building slightly with cherries, dry flowers, cedar and some coffee undertones. The palate is still showing classic chianti style with tart cherries, dry strawberries and light earthy cedar spices trailing on to a tart dried cherry finish.
Eight Bells is fired up after losing the first round. The Washington State Luchador is going for broke unleashing an attack from the top rope. The nose is more robust with dark cherry and earthy lemon rind. The palate is showing cherries, earth infused menthol spices and some tart coffee bean. The finish is consistent and dominated by tart cherry.
Eight Bells was much more aggressive in round 2, taking the over-confident Villa Cafaggio by surprise.
Round 3. One day after opening
With the match tied at 1 round apiece things are about to get interesting.
Villa Cafaggio looks focused and determined. The Italian luchador is flashing a nose of cherries, dusty raspberry and lightly savory white pepper. The palate features tart cherry and strawberry with light cedar spices along with nice streak of acidity that leads to a dry finish that includes hints of dried flowers.
The Villa Cafaggio was crafty, but the Eight Bells Sangiovese caught the Italian by surprise and applied a wicked sleeper hold. The Washington State luchador won the final round and the match with a powerful submission hold.
Wrap up and overall observations
The Villa Cafaggio was a great challenger. This Chianti Classico would make a great dinner companion any night of the week. It showed classic Chianti style with nice earthy dried cherries and a streak of acid begging to be paired with some delicious Italian cuisine.
The Eight Bells Sangiovese also showed great Sangiovese character. It was slightly darker than the Chianti, but still represented the grape well. 2010 was an unusually cool vintage for Washington State and this Eight Bells Sangiovese is showing some nice character.
I would gladly invite either of these luchadors back for a future match!