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Follow the Buyer! Bart Hopkins

 

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Bart's's Bio

 

Buyer of: Austria, Burgundy, California - Cabernet, Pinot Noir & Zinfandel, Grappa, Italian Red Wine, New Zealand, Oregon, South Africa

I sometimes shake my head in disbelief when I count the nearly four decades I've been selling wine. Much has changed since I began, and much of it for the better: there's greater diversity of styles, and the availability of what's out there is staggering. Yet even with over 35 years of experience, I still consider myself a student of the vine. Every year, every vintage opens up a new chapter to explore and discover. Not a day goes by when I don't learn something new, either from grape growers, winemakers, my ultra-knowledgeable colleagues, or the savvy shoppers that visit our store. Over the years, my interests in fitness and nutrition eventually have led me to organic viticulture and winemaking, while my spiritual side drew me to biodynamic farming. If eating well is part of your daily regimen, so too should be choosing wine. When I see people making wine a part of their healthy lifestyle, I feel great knowing that I'm taking part in something positive.

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Bart's Wine Selection - Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico 2014


The Story

Badia a Coltibuono, Abbey of the Good Harvest, was established by eleventh century Benedictine monks who are responsible for planting vineyards in the Upper Chianti region. In 1846, the estate was purchased by Piero Strucchi-Prineti, and has since remained in his family’s hands. Surrounded by 2,000 acres of pristine woodland, the ancient monastery sits atop a spectacular view of the picturesque Tuscan countryside where history and nature remain seemingly frozen in time.

Emanuela Stucchi-Prineti and her brothers Roberto and Paolo manage the estate today. Since 2003, their vineyards have been certified organic. According to British wine writer Monty Waldin, up to 30% of vineyards in the Chianti Classico heartland of Panzano, Gaiole and Greve are now organic (the national average in Italy is approximately 10%). Many of these vineyards are surrounded by organic olive groves, and fruit, cereal and vegetable growers which creates large scale environmentally protected areas or ‘biodistretti’ where organic farming has become a way of life rather than something out of the ordinary.

2014 was a tricky vintage, with numerous storms that brought rain and damp conditions throughout the summer, followed by a warm, sunny autumn that miraculously saved the difficult growing season. In general, organic growers fared better against the elements, their vines having developed better root systems to penetrate deeper into the soil and healthier canopies that helped prevent outbreaks of rot and mildew. With the wines now in bottle, some of the 2014s have pleasantly surprised everyone, with Badia a Coltibuono being one of our most exciting examples!

Tasting Note

I find that Chianti is in the midst of an identity crises. I always think of Chianti as the perfect food wine, cheerful and lively, never heavy or tiring, with delicate cherry scented Sangiovese fruit and a harmonious balance of tannin and acidity. Sadly, too many producers seem to want to compete with their neighbors to the south in Montalcino, beefing up their wines with heavy extractions, non-Tuscan varietals and excessive use of oak. I’m not saying these wines aren’t good, but they are not true to the Chianti style. To me, the 2014 Badia a Coltibuono is the quintessence of pure Chianti. Bright, luminescent ruby in color with aromas of cherry blossoms, cedar and spice. In the mouth, the wine is youthful, fresh and agile, with charming red fruit flavors and earthy complexity. Refreshing acidity compliments the fruit with gentle tannins on the finish.

Food Pairing

Food friendliness is the hallmark of a good Chianti Classico. The typical food pairing is pasta with red sauce or pizza, but the scope of Chianti’s versatility goes far beyond the red and white checkered tablecloth. Lighter meats, poultry and fish find good acquaintance with a lightly chilled Chianti, as well as salads, vegetable dishes and Mediterranean inspired cuisine.


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