Thursday, July 12, 2018

Washington Sangiovese vs. Chianti Classico

With the World Cup causing a delay in the start of le Tour, we are given some time to pause and reflect on the first grand tour of the year – The Giro d’Italia.

The Giro always offers plenty of intrigue and dynamic racing.  The race occurs early enough in the year that many of the mountain passes are still covered in snow.  In addition to the weather, the organizers are always striving to deliver something new and innovative in attempts to one up the French!

This year’s race brought plenty of drama, most of it focused squarely on Chris Froome.  Not so much for his racing, but for his elongated battle over illegal levels of Salbutamol found in his system during last year’s Vuelta Espana.  Froome crashed in the first stage of this year's Giro, shed additional time in the early mountain stages and then made a miraculous come back to win the overall classification.

This week’s Lucha Vino matchup features a Washington Sangiovese taking on the grand champion of Italian Grapes, a Chianti Classico

2014 Mellisoni Sangiovese v. 2013 Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva

Tale of the Tape

Mellisoni 2014 Sangiovese

100% Sangiovese from Stillwater Creek Vineyard

Aged in new Hungarian and used French Oak barrels for 20 mnnths.

Provided as a sample by the winery.

 Brolio 2013 Chianti Classico Riserva

80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon all Estate grown

Aged for 16 months in oak Bariques and 3 additional months in bottle before releasing.

Purchased for $29.99 at Esquin.

Round 1.  First opening

The Washington upstart from Mellisoni takes the early initative going on the attack with a nose of dark sandalwood, coffee bean and dark cherry.  The palate follows suit with dark cherry, leather, tart floral tannins and bold acidity

The Brolio brawler is getting off to an unorthodox start.  The nose is showing rubbery overtones mingled with smoky black cherries.  The palate is slightly lighter with notes of bing cherry and a tart tannic finish that is also tinged with that unusual rubbery character.

Mellisoni takes the first round with ease.

Round 2.  One hour after opening 

Mellisoni has picked up some swagger and confidence from round 1.  The nose is evolving with notes of dried rose petals intermixed with smoky sandalwood, leather and currants.  The palate continues to feature dark cherry while adding new elements of menthol, cracked pepper, cocoa powder and a barrel spice finish.

The Washington state Luchador is taking the fight straight at the Italian grand champion!  Brolio is somewhat stunned after being rocked back on its heels by Mellisoni's high flying style.

Searching for a change of pace the Brolio nose is showing herbal green pepper and pie cherry notes.  The palate is similar with pie cherry, herbal pepper and dry leather tannins on the finish.

There is no let up in the Sangiovese luchador from Mellisoni.  The Washington state Sangiovese wins round two.

Round 3.  One day after opening

The only hope for the Brolio Chianti Classico is a pin or tap out from Mellisoni.  Here we go!

Mellisoni is showing strength and stamina with a nose of bing cherry, light leather and dusty earthy dried flowers.  The palate is flexing with notes of darker cherry, cocoa, light menthol and rose petals that lead to a dry finish.

The Brolio luchador is finally starting to show some signs of life, but it could be too little, too late...  The nose has transitioned to display dark cherry, dried leather and floral notes.  The palate doubles down with dark cherry, subtle smoky overtones and dried flowers accompanied by a relatively tannic finish.

The third round was the most interesting and most contested of the three.  Unfortunately for the Brolio brawler, the Mellisoni Sangiovese proved to be too much.

Mellisoni dominates round three and wins the match 3-0.

Wrap up and overall observaations

Both of these wines show the darker and stronger side of Sangiovese.  The Brolio is made in more of the Super Tuscan style with the addition of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

I'm not sure what was happening with the Brolio, it did not perform on day one and then began to show better character on day two.  Perhaps this Chianti Classico just needs more time in the cellar.

For instant gratification go with the Mellisoni.  This Washington Sangiovese is tasting good now and is also showing the potential to age for several more years.

If you are patient, give the Brolio a try in another couple years to see how it evolves.

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