Castello Banfi is a well-known Tuscan winery, and its newest Chianti Classico wines, brought only recently to the American market, offers quality and value.
While acclaimed for their Brunello di Montalcino and Super-Tuscan wines Excelsus, Summus and Cum Laude, Banfi produces flavorful and affordable Chianti wines, too.
In 1919, John Mariani began a wine importing company in New York. The following year saw the start of Prohibition, and for the next 13 years, Mariani’s company survived by selling Italian food products. With the repeal of Prohibition, Mariani traveled to Europe and re-established his wine importing business. In the 1960s, his sons, John Jr. and Harry joined the business and built Banfi into a major American wine importer. In 1978, they purchased land in Tuscany’s Montalcino area and created vineyards and built a beautiful castello that houses an elegant hotel and first-rate restaurant.
Today, John Mariani Jr.’s daughter, Christina Mariani-May, and Harry’s son, James Mariani, run the company.
The 2007 vintage in Chianti Classico offers consumers the pleasures of completely ripe grapes. Castello Banfi captured the essence of this vintage with its traditional winemaking methods. Its 2007 Chianti Classico riserva blended 80 percent of Chianti Classico’s principal red wine grape, Sangiovese, with 10 percent of its minor red wine grape, canaiolo nero, and 10 percent of the international grape, cabernet sauvignon. Eschewing French oak barrels used by other Chianti Classico producers, Banfi followed the traditional route of aging its wine for one year in Slavonian oak casks.
The result is a 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva with a clear cherry hue and a classic scent of rose-hips, dried flowers and black cherry. After an hour of aeration, blackberry and black olive scents rise from the glass and the medium-bodied wine offers rich blackberry and cherry fruit flavors. Its soft tannins enhance the pleasure and leave you with a long, lingering finish.
The grapes were less uniformly ripe in the 2008 Chianti Classico vintage. Rains diluted the fruit, but Castello Banfi’s DNA of medium-bodied, flavorful Chianti Classico can still be found in that vintage.
Its raspberry color and a mix of cherry, plum and herbal aromas are immediately appealing. The 2008 Banfi Chianti Classico delivers a tasty cranberry-cherry flavor that glides across the palate. Its medium-body and soft tannins allow you to enjoy the wine without any additional cellaring.
The Banfi 2008 Chianti Classico and the 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva are perfect wines with pasta coated with Bolognese sauce or meat ragout, grilled salmon or tuna with a black olive tapenade or eggplant caponata.
The Banfi 2008 Chianti Classico and 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva retail for approximately $17 and $22, respectively.