~ Sangiovese slopes down from Villa Cerna in Castellina in Chianti ~

Castellina.  It truly is a magical place and it captivated me with it’s charm, food and the hospitality of it’s people.  One of those people was my friend, Andrea Cecchi,  who embodies the spirit of the quintessential Tuscan life and is proud and honored to display that for his guests.   When we visited him in June,  I made mention of the fact that the very first wine of Cecchi’s that I ever tasted was the 1990 Spargolo.  Like a swiftly moving cat, carefully, but with purpose,  he disappeared into the family cellar and emerged with a wedding present for us;  a bottle of the 1995 Spargolo. 
~ A cozy alleyway in Castellina in Chianti ~

~ Beaming with pride:  Cinzia  & Andrea Cecchi in the cellars at Villa Cerna ~
The Spargolo label tells an interesting story.  It’s a classic, parchment styled label with a notation that the wine is simply “Sangiovese di Toscana.”  In 1995, Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva were not yet permitted to be produced with 100% Sangiovese.  This wine, from the same vineyard that now produces the Villa Cerna Chianti Classico Riserva, was indeed 100% Sangiovese and a “rule breaker” at the time. 
We took the wine to a local Trattoria Saturday night after a very hot day of coaching and watching youth football.   The owners of the trattoria are heavily interested in wine and when they saw the label, they commented that they used to sell it in their old restaurant and insisted upon decanting it for us. This turned out to be quite necessary as the wine threw off a heavy coffee grind like sediment.
The 1995 Spargolo is a deep, ruby to brick red in color.  The provenance naturally is perfect and the wine displayed a color that belied it’s almost 20 years of age.  For anyone who doubts the pedigree of Sangiovese, the grape rules!  This was an absolutely gorgeous aged wonder of a wine.  Aromas are profound, with crushed, ripe, dark chocolate covered cherry and cherry liquer mingling with soft wood notes, a hint of balsamic reduction and sweet soft pipe tobacco notes.  It’s intoxicating to smell.   On the palate, the wine is lively and impeccably balanced.  Rich fruit is medium to full bodied with bright fennel and sage notes accenting the core of fruit.
Texturally sublime, the wine glides on the palate from fore to aft with consistent weight of fruit the entire way.  The finish reveals some roasted coffee and a zing of peppery acidity that refreshes the palate. It’s hard to find fault here and with the special meaning of the wine to me,  it’s a damn near perfect experience.  I’ll hedge my score due to the emotional attachment and say 95 points. 
Spargolo is no longer produced.  As I mentioned at the outset, fruit from this wine now goes into the Villa Cerna Chianti Riserva.  However, bottles are still available if you search;  the last vintage produced was 2004.  Price, about $25-$35. 

~ Great capture of the glass, decanter, and label.  Spargolo is 100% Sangiovese ~

With this wine we enjoyed perhaps the best single dish for Sangiovese I’ve ever encountered:  Pork Osso Bucco over mushroom & pea risotto.  Let me add that with this dish, the flavors in the wine were greatly amplified.  The fruit plumped up even more and the mushroom character in the wine was attracted like a magnet to the crimini in the risotto.

~ Pork Shank Osso Bucco over Mushroom & Pea Risotto ~

As the memories of old and new friends fade ever so slightly,  we know that new ones await for us in Castellina.

~ Cinzia e Giovanni in Toscana:  Graze Andrea per il pitture.  Mozza il Fiato infatti! ~

A presto……


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