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Chianti Tasting: April 21, New York City

For as great a wine town as it is, fantastic public tasting opportunities don't come around all that often in New York City. Sure, if you know people, and especially if you're in the business, there's always some place to go to taste a few great wines. But there are rarely large public tasting events like those frequently held in gallo_nero.jpgSan Francisco, where consumers can spend a little bit of money to taste a huge number of wines.

As you know, I consider such events the best possible education wine lovers can get. There's nothing like being able to compare and contrast dozens, even hundreds of wines of the same type, or from the same region, to get a real sense of what you like.

So. What do you think about Chianti?

About five years ago, as I drove south from Florence on my way to Siena, stopping along the way amidst the green hills to sip a little wine, I realized I had never given Chianti enough credit. While it doesn't have the deep profundity of Brunello, its high-class cousin to the south, there are a lot of beautiful, honest, unassuming wines made in some of the world's most beautiful hill country.

On Monday, April 21, New York wine lovers have the chance to taste more than 200 different Chianti Classicos at an event by the name of Chianti Classico & The Tuscan Nose. The "nose" part of this tasting, apart from being a pun on the classic portrait of the Duke of Urbino, derives from a presentation by Italian perfumer, Lorenzo Villoresi, who will offer something that's being described as "The Essence of Chianti Classico: a sensory experience of the 27 aromas of Chianti." Yeah, I have no idea what the hell that is either.

But, did I mention there will be more than 200 Chianti Classicos to taste?

The tasting, which benefits Slow Food USA, also involves a seminar by sommelier David Lynch, which presumably will not be about perfume.

Whether you need to be disabused of the notion that Chianti is the wine that comes in those cute little baskets or you're a hard-core lover of Sangiovese aged in neutral oak, this is a tasting that's bound to be worth the forty bucks that a ticket will set you back.

Chianti Classico & The Tuscan Nose Tasting
Monday, April 21st, 6:00 to 8:00 PM (seminar at 6:30 PM)
583 Park Avenue (at 63rd Street)
New York, New York 10065

Tickets are $40 per person and should be purchased in advance online, or by calling 212-929-7700.

Remember my usual tips for public tastings: get a good night's sleep; drink lots of water; have food in your stomach when you arrive; wear dark clothes; and if you want to actually learn anything...SPIT!

Comments (3)

03.29.08 at 9:00 AM

Chianti is one of Italy's most liberal appellations and so you see everything from wines heavy with international grapes to 100% Sangiovese aged in old oak casks. Of the Chianti subzones, Rufina and Chianti Classico produce great expressions of long-lived Sangiovese. Many producers can rival the greatness of Brunello (which, btw, hasn't proved to be so noble over the last few days!). It's great to see the Chianti consortium offer this tasting and tasting with David Lynch is always an enlightening experience.

winenegress wrote:
03.29.08 at 12:16 PM

Thanks for the heads up. I'll be at the Alliance Francaise tasting wines of the Loire Valley. By the way, this series (three of the events are sold out) is a great introduction to French regions and is offered by the French Institute every year. Go to fiaf.org for more information

Seth wrote:
04.02.08 at 11:35 AM

I have been working with the Chianti Classico Consortium on this event and Alder invited me post and further explain the “essences” aspect of this tasting:

The reason we entitled it “The Tuscan Nose” was the pun: a perfumer is called a “Nose.” As Alder noted, Lorenzo Villoresi (one of Italy’s leading perfumers) created “The Essences of Chianti Classico,” but what we didn’t make clear was that this was not because he was commissioned by the Chianti Classico Consortium; he came up with this concept himself, since he is an avant-garde perfumer/artist, who was interested in creating olfactory environments. He was able to isolate 27 different scents that, for him, comprise not only the aromas in the Chianti Classico wine itself, but also, in the terroir in which the grapes are grown. Having these essences at a tasting serves two purposes: first, the specific: to familiarize the guest with the different components in the wine, in order to arrive at a deeper understanding and appreciation of the complexity of Chianti Classico; and second, the more general: to recreate the sensations of a summer afternoon in Tuscany.

Our hope is that the guests of this very unique sensory experience will immediately gain a better understanding of what these different aromas are, and be able to apply that knowledge to the different wines that they subsequently taste. To be even more optimistic, we hope they will also begin to realize which aromas they particularly like, and develop a wine vocabulary, which would help them select wines in the future. Since smell is at least 70% of taste, our fervent wish is that it will help them come to a deeper understanding of how to taste Chianti Classico wines—and wines in general. I know that sounds ambitious, but it really does work.

Here is a sampling of a few “essences” that help to paint Mr. Villoresi’s olfactory portrait of the Chianti Classico Region. What is wonderful is the range of notes that he perceives: fruit, flowers, trees, grasses, spices. The explanations are direct translations of the perfumer’s notes.

- CHERRIES (ciliegia): A food aroma that reconstructs, with a variety of substances in diverse fragrances, the flavor of cherries.

- MEDITERRANEAN THICKETS (macchia mediterranea): This is a compound of natural and synthetic elements that reproduces the unmistakable aroma of Mediterranean brushlands used in the production of the finest perfumes.

- BLACK PEPPER (pepe nero): This is an essential oil of pepper (Piper nigrum), produced by the steam distillation of peppercorns.

- PLUM (prugna): This is a compound of natural and synthetic substances that reproduces the fragrance of plums for use in the finest perfumes.

- IRIS: This is often called a pure substance, although it is an essential oil created by steam distillation of pulverized rhizomes of iris (iris pallida). It is the world’s most precious aromatic substance, which costs approximately $450,000 a pound.

If anyone has any questions, or is interested in the full list of essences (which contains fauna as well as flora), please contact me:


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