Saturday, 23 June 2012

Chianti perfect with pizza

The Chianti, a 2006 Gabbiano Classico Riserva was a perfect match for the pizza.  It was soft, but with enough complexity to mix beautifully with the various pizza flavors.

We were thinking of also trying a 2001 Rosemount Traditional, but after tasting the Chianti, realized that the Chianti was perfect and decided to save the Rosemount to go with corn beef.  (A separate blog on that will follow.)

As with all Italian Chiantis, the Gabbiano was made from the Sangiovese grape.  While Sangiovese is considered a secondary grape, it has real stature in Italy and is popular globally. There are a number of Australian makers of Sangiovese now and one of the very best is Tintilla, in the Hunter Valley.  The do a great Sangiovese and a Sangiovese / Merlot blend and some of the older vintages are nicely smoky and a bit rustic in tasting.

If you really want to have a good time, check out the Tintilla website and write them about their annual Sangiovese tasting.  I believe it just passed for this year, but there is always next year.

The Gabbiano comes in a Classico and a Classico Riserva, which is a better wine, using a more select collection of premium grapes.  The Riserva has a DOCG appellation in the Tuscany region which means it is 'top of the line' Sangiovese. If you like Chianti, but you are not aware of the different brands and which one is best, you can usually be safe in picking up a very good quality Chianti by choosing one with the "Rooster" label (picture to right) which ensures it is of DOCG quality (unless of course, it is a counterfeit.)

I was originally debating between a Shiraz and the Chianti, but decided the Chianti was a better choice and I was right.  Pizza crust goes better with Chianti than a Shiraz for starters.  Additionally, we had a pizza with salami, green capsicum, Spanish onion, mushrooms, garlic, chili and cheese.  The salami on its own would have fought a bit with the Shiraz, whereas it worked beautifully with the Chianti.  And it worked great with our guests, Ric and Cris, as Ric is Italian (Cris is Venezuelan) and the maker of the fine salami we used on the pizza.  Since having started to use Ric's salami as a topping, it has been impossible to use other salamis or pepperoni.  Ric's family made another 140 kilograms of salami today and we will be joining them in two weeks to help with the next batch.

My friend Jeff, who lives in California, suggested that a Red Zinfandel would also be a great match for pizza and he is correct.  I tend to forget about what a great wine Zinfandel is for many occasions, and pizza would be one of them.  We do not see much Zinfandel in Australia, but Cape Mentelle makes a great one.  I had a  2008 Cape Mentelle Zinfandel at Bistro Molines in the Hunter Valley several months ago and it was the first Zinfandel I had had in 15 years (since moving to Australia).  I also had a 2009 Cape Mentelle Zinfandel at The Cut Bar & Grill a little while ago with their slow cooked prime rib.  Cape Mentelle is in the Margaret River region which makes truly outstanding wines.  And if you are looking for the finest steak house in Sydney, you need look no further than The Cut Bar & Grill.  And the sommelier at the Cut, Gustavo Kroneis, is the finest around and has been outstanding at recommending great wines to go with our steaks.

It is easy to just break open a few beers when you are having pizza, but if you want to wine to go with pizza, try a Chianti or Red Zindfandel.

And BTW, here is a picture of one of the pizzas we made tonight.  Deanna will be posting a blog entry in DAZ in the Kitchen with the recipe if you want to try it.

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