Friday Steak Night & Chianti Classico – A Perfect Match!

Podere Il Palazzino Argenina Chianti Classico

The last 14 months or so have been challenging for us all, wherever we may be around the world. The lockdowns, the restrictions, the half opening of society again, only to go back into seclusion as we awaited the arrival of the Super-Vaccines to steer us out of all the isolation we have faced. With restaurants, bars and travel excluded from our lives over this time, we have all found ways to cope in our own sweet ways, and for Paula and myself, here in Dublin, instead of our regular trip to the local pub for a couple of drinks to start the weekend on a Friday evening, early doors as I still call it (harking back to younger days when pubs were not open all hours), we tried to make the most of our extra time at home, and Friday’s have become Steak Nights.

Of course, to go with a good steak, it’s imperative that you go with a good wine, and this week, as we celebrated my first shot of Astra Zeneca’s and the upcoming lifting of many of the restrictions we have faced, was no exception. As I have talked about before, I am a member of the Roscioli Wine Club out of Rome, and every six months I receive a mixed case from them, and earlier this year, one of the bottles I received was this Chianti Classico from Podere Il Palazzino, their Argenina 2017.

It’s no secret that Sangiovese is my favourite grape variety, and I enjoy the various examples such as Brunello di Montalcino’s, Vino Nobile’s from Montepulciano, and the Chianti & Chianti Classicos from Tuscany. This particular wine is a blend, unlike Brunello’s, and the 2017 vintage consists of 85% Sangiovese, with 10% Canaiolo and 5% Colorinio. The resulting mix is fermented in steel vats, at relatively low temperature to preserve the primary fruit aromas, before being aged in small oak casks prior to bottling and release.

The Il Palazzino farm, owned by Alessandro and Andrea Sderci, is located in Monti in Chianti, 20 km northeast of Siena, in the southern part of Chianti Classico Area, with Argenina being one of the oldest hamlets in the region, and with 3ha of vineyards, 310 metres above sea level, around 25,000 bottles are produced each year.

And so to the wine itself. Medium ruby in colour, cherries leapt from the glass, before subsiding as the liquid settled down, and further aromas started to emerge. An earthiness was evident, but in a reassuring way, not overpowering the fruit, with raspberry brambles mixing with the cherries, and floral notes of violets. Having located the obvious primary aromas, there were further complexities to find, with sweet spice, tobacco and hints of leather, hinting of the ageing potential of this wine – All this before taking my first sip.

I should note here that the alcohol showing on the label indicated 14.5%, but with medium acidity and tannins that were in complete balance, not too harsh, but enough to get your taste buds tickled, the level of alcohol was not an issue, as some can be at this level and above. The fruit aromas, transferred to the taste, with cherries and red fruits fighting for attention, with a hint of sweetness in the mouthfeel, a smoothness of flavours, and an exceptionally long finish for a wine that comes in at a very reasonable price point.

Paired with my Sirloin, mushrooms, and baby potatoes tossed in olive oil and black pepper, it was a match made in heaven. Sipping the last glass as the evening wore on, it reminded me that while the last 14 months have been hard on us all, there are moments like this that can at least bring a smile to my face on a Friday evening, where a good wine, good food, and great company can mean everything.

Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio – The Tears of Christ.

Yes, another wine review, albeit brief. This is a wine I was totally unfamiliar with, and grapes, I confess to never having heard of. A 90/10 blend of Caprettone and Falanghina, in this 2017 edition, both indigenous grapes to the Napoli area, and rarely seen at this level. Some years the blend has additional “Greco” added, but this year saw the propensity of the Caprettone. The Italian name translates as the tears of Christ, and the producers are Cantine Matrone.

This wine came from my Italian Wine Club, Rimessa Roscioli and they have a wonderful way of sending tasting notes, videos, from the producers themselves.

Andrea Matrone

But back to my own experiences. We were having monkfish, steamed in the oven, with a spinach risotto for dinner, so the bottle was chilled in the fridge before I extracted it with 20 minutes to go before serving up the food, as is my want. The colour of the first pour was amazing. I was not expecting such a golden shade in the glass, especially on such a relatively young wine.

The nose was less striking, in fact,somewhat disappointing. Maybe it needed time to develop, and I have seen reviews which indicated that the aromas expanded on day two after opening, but I would have to make my assessment solely on a single evening. There was a distinct lack of fruit coming through on the nose, some floral notes were there, but there was an overiding sense of minerality, wet stones, and a salient hint too.

Although the nose was lacking something, on the palate, the flavours did come through. A medium plus acidity level, and a firm texture, honey like in its viscosity, gave way to the fruit. Pear and green apple came to mind, and, surprisingly, there were red fruits in there too, amongst the earthiness and mineral components noted on the nose, a touch of raspberry.

The wine did compliment the food, and certainly the savoury notes from the earthiness worked well with the monkfish, which is of course, a very full bodied fish in itself, meaty and firm, which is how I would rate this wine. A full bodied trip to the volcanic terroir of Italy, and a journey I would be happy to return to in the future.