As Scottish novelist and travel writer, Robert Louis Stevenson once said: Wine is bottled poetry. Indeed, we couldn’t agree more here at Sciacca, which is why we thought such a rich alcoholic beverage should be given its deserved appreciation.
Since we wanted to give a well-merited background of the most popular wines served at our restaurant, we decided to provide you with a tripartite exploration that discusses red wines, rosés, white wines and champagnes respectively. So, let us take this opportunity to delve into the world of this fruity inebriating drink.
This unique wine is highly recommended, particularly for its moderate freshness, which is an archetypical characteristic of a Chianti. The minimum percentage of Sangiovese allowed in Chianti Classico is 80%, with only red grapes permitted to make up the rest of the blend. It’s worth noting that the variety of Chianti wine we stock is 100% Sangiovese grape.
The Chianti Classico region is fundamental to the province and possibly the most famous. In 1996 it was awarded DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) status, in an effort to raise its perceived quality. All Italian DOCG wines are tasted and analysed in a lab in order to meet government approval. The alcohol content must also be at least 12%, and the wine must spend at least 12 months aging in oak barrels.
Transport yourself to Costasera’s hills, which face the sunset, and you cannot negate the fact that this the best place for producing high-quality Amarone in Valpolicella Classico. With a longer day, vines that face Lake Garda lounge receives more sunlight, accompanied by subtle breezes.
To harvest this inimitable taste and texture, Amarone is produced using a combination of ancient varieties (Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara) and “appassimento” which is an ancient Roman wine-making method, which is a technique involving the drying of harvested grapes on bamboo racks or straw mats, ranging from a few weeks up to several months, to concentrate the sugars and flavours.
By vinifying the semi-dried grapes on racks for 3-4 months in temperature and humidity-controlled conditions, such a technique induces the natural drying process and selective exposure to botrytis cinerea, strictly-controlled fermentations through the use of Saccharomyces Bayanus (a rare yeast that produces high alcohol). Aged for 24 months, 80% in 40-80 hectolitre Slavonian oak barrels and 20% in small Allier and Slavonian oak barrels (40% new, 30% 1 year old, 30% 2 year old) before being bottled for a minimum of 4 months.
This deep crimson-red wine has prevailing, intricate fragrances of dried plums and balsamic traces. Quite dry on the palate, soft and with bright acidity, the wine has hints of baked cherry, chocolate and cinnamon. Amarone is a full-bodied wine that can be aged between 30-35 years, complementing grilled or roasted red meats, game, and hard cheeses, such as parmesan. Considered a wine for meditation, bold enough to be sipped on its own, it’s also the perfect after-dinner wine. An amalgamation of the traditional and contemporary in winemaking, Costasera’s unique personality is a complex, modern Amarone joined with an ancient, regal pedigree.
The largest and most important appellation in the southern Rhône (situated in the Swiss Alps), with more than 3,200 hectares of vineyards and over 80 growers, Châteauneuf-du-Pape produces more wine than the whole of the northern Rhône combined. This magnificently rich red wine, from the best estates emanate wonderful flavours of gamey spice, blackberries and currant, further perfected by the heat and herbs that typify the south. The wine’s complexity is additionally enhanced from blending several of the 14 permitted grape varieties including Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah.
Southern Rhône’s landmark region, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, was the first region to gain AOC status (appellation d’origine contrôlée) which translates to controlled designation of origin”. This is the French equivalent to the Italian DOCG certification. As the name itself implies, the wine region was named after the “new papal home,” referring to the period of time in the 1300’s when the pope resided in Avignon instead of Rome.
The grapes are garnered on soils covered in rounded, smooth stones called galets. The stones naturally cover most of the soils throughout Châteauneuf-du-Pape and are two-fold in their duties. First, they are able to reflect and absorb the heat, to quicken the ripening of the grapes. Secondly, they help to hold in moisture so that the soils are not dried out by the hot Southern French sun.
Taurasi is a Campania red wine certainly worth tasting. Located 31 miles (50km) north-east of Naples, where the vineyards lay among the hills of Avellino and where the Aglianico (from the Greek Ellenico) grape blooms. This grape is a variety utilized over much of southern Italy. Like many of Italy’s wine regions, Campania’s Taurasi has Greek and Roman influence, its origins dating back as far as 800 BC. Taurasi first gained its DOC status in 1970 and was eventually promoted to DOCG in the early 90s. Under these regulations, such wines must comprise at least 85% Aglianico from the province of Avellino. The remaining 15% can be made up with other permitted local red grapes, usually Piedirosso and sometimes Sangiovese and/or Barbera.
The majority of the wines, however, tend to be 100% Aglianico. Additionally, the wine must be aged three years before release with a minimum of one year in a wood barrel. To be labelled as a Riserva the wines must be aged for a minimum of four years with at least eighteen months in wood.
It’s this very aging process that characterizes this dry red wine, famed for its larger-than-life personality and full-bodied character. Taurasi wines have a great ability to age. Despite their density, high levels of extract and tannin, they retain good linearity and delicacy. This grape has a flair for giving wines flavours of raspberries, plums and dark cherries, as well as a smoky nuance evocative of a lit cigar, freshly ground coffee and new leather. As the wines mature, they can take on earthy, forest-floor and gamey notes. Although they can be drunk young, a little patience will smooth out the rough edges.
Owing to the terroir and topography of the Taurasi zone, this red grape’s triumph is indebted to vineyards that are at an elevation of at least 1312ft (400m) above sea level, where the best sites are found (Castelfranci, Jampenne, Radici and Torre). This area also boasts of a myriad of soils including calcareous marls, volcanic deposits and limestone; the latter contributes a tannic quality to the wines, while the volcanic soil adds a certain smokiness.
Rewind to over 150 years ago, when Giovanni Gaja opened a small restaurant in Barbaresco, making wine to complement the food he served. In 1859, he founded the Gaja Winery, creating some of the first wine from Piedmont to be bottled and sold outside the region. Founded in 1859 by Giovanni Gaja, having arrived from Spain during the 17th century, the Gaja family opened a tavern in Barbaresco, serving its wines with the food.
At the end of the 19th century, Gaja wines were bottled and supplied to the Italian army in Abyssinia. In 1937. The firm progressed following World War II as Giovanni Gaja made a significant series of vineyard purchases in terms of scale and vineyard quality. Also cited as an important influence to the firm’s early success is the mother of Giovanni Gaja, Clotilda Rey, who inculcated the values of working to achieve high quality to attract the desired clientele, and set high prices to manifest the prestige of the product.
The story of the Gaja Winery can be traced to a singular, founding resolution: to harvest original wines with a sense of place, reflecting the tradition and culture of those who made it. This way of life inspired five generations of impeccable winemaking. Since then, the cellar has been shaped by each generation’s hand, notably that of Angelo Gaja. Under Angelo’s direction, the native Nebbiolo grape was elevated to world-class esteem.
Today, Angelo Gaja, alongside Guido Rivella, his winemaker since 1970, and his daughter, Gaja, advance their legacy. To transform their vision into a reality, all Gaja wines are produced exclusively from grapes grown in estate-owned vineyards, including 250 acres in Piedmont’s Barbaresco and Barolo districts as well as estates in Pieve Santa Restituta (Montalcino) and Ca’Marcanda (Bolgheri). It’s from these fabled vineyards, the earth, weather and vines upon them, that Gaja wines reveal their true core.
So, it’s really not surprising that Gaja is one of the stars of the world wine scene, a producer that’s extensively accredited with modernising both the image and international reputation of its native Piedmont region, and Italy as a whole. It has had a momentous impact on the way that Italian wine is grown, made, priced, distributed and marketed.
We hope you’ve found this blog interesting and insightful. Remember, the above-mentioned wines are merely a handful from the extensive list served at Sciacca. To view our full range of reds, we encourage you to reserve a table in one of our restaurants, and sip on some of our ruby-red richness!