What: I love red wine, but often when the summer heat moves in, I turn to white and rosé wines. Heavy reds often just don’t drink well on the hottest days.
A friend told me I should try Chianti as a summer alternative. I was skeptical because I have had Chianti in cold weather and it has been wonderful, so I didn’t see how it could be a summer wine. But with wine, as with many other things, I never say never. I’m glad I tried this.
We had this beautiful Chianti while eating grilled hamburgers outside, and it was a magical evening. All the flavors played well off each other, the weather was nice and the bugs stayed away.
The wine is a gorgeous cherry red in the glass with aromas of cherry and blackberry and a hint of cinnamon. On the palate, the wine is well-rounded with notes of ripe fruit, especially plum, and chocolate.
The wine is composed primarily of sangiovese grapes with a small percentage of traditional complementary varieties such as canaiolo. Sangiovese is the most widely planted grape in Italy, and it must be at least 75 percent of the final blend to be labeled a Chianti DOCG wine.
The grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged for a brief period in the bottle before release.
This wine was created to be a pleasant, everyday wine, to be drunk young. It is that, and a great bargain to boot.
Cetamura is the name of an Etruscan settlement on the Badia a Coltibuono property.
Winery: Badia a Coltibuono has roots that reach back to the third century BC during the Etruscan civilization. The winery building started as an 11th century Romanesque monastery founded by Vallombrosan monks. The monks made wine and quickly gained a reputation for making good wine. Badia a Coltibuono translates to “abbey of the good harvest.”
San Giovanni Gualberto, founder of the Vallombrosan order and patron saint of foresters, rangers and parks, established the abbey in 1051. The Vallombrosans may have been the first to cultivate sangiovese grapes in Tuscany.
An ancient badia, or abbey, holds a special place in the history of Western Europe. During the Middle Ages, these abbeys served not only as places of worship and spiritual refuge, but also as centers of learning, engines for economic growth, and laboratories for agricultural development.
The monastery was active and bought large tracts of land up to 1810, when Napoleon annexed most church property in Tuscany. Some he gave away to friends or as political favors, some he sold.
The Stucchi Prinetti family has run the estate since 1846, balancing history and innovation to create one of Chianti Classico’s best-loved wineries.
Family members running the property are its seventh generation stewards. The philosophical approach is to maintain both the integrity of sangiovese and the unique terroir of Chianti through organic farming practices, clonal diversity and restrained use of new oak barrels. They continue to work with pioneering Tuscan oenologist Maurizio Castelli.
Emanuela Stucchi (the first woman elected president of the Marchio Storico del Chianti Classico) manages the winery with the help of her three brothers: Roberto, who is head winemaker; Paolo, who oversees the well-regarded Coltibuono restaurant; and Guido, who runs hospitality.
The estate, situated on the hills of the commune of Gaiole in Chianti, totals 2,282 acres, including vineyards, farms and olive groves. After 10 centuries of uninterrupted agricultural tradition, all Coltibuono’s estate grapes are organically grown and vinified using natural yeast.
Among the first leading wine-producing firms in Tuscany to wholly return to environmental sustainability, Badia a Coltibuono is dedicated to the preservation and vinification of sangiovese and local varieties. The winery produces three Chianti Classico wines, two IGT, two Vinsanto and a Grappa.
Their architecturally arresting and technologically innovative winemaking facility built in 1986 at the center of the vineyards in Monti tries to minimize environmental impact. It uses gravity flow manual grape sorting, gentle conveyance of de-stemmed fruit to the fermentation tanks, smaller size vats for separate vinifications, both in wood and stainless steel, a piston cap punch-down system, native yeasts and mostly maturation in casks over small barrels.
The estate also produces a line of “Coltibuono” wines, such as the Cetamura, made from grapes selected from small growers in Tuscany.
This wine is imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, an unusual importing model that keeps prices down by bypassing the national importer in the traditional three-tier system. Distributors buy directly from the producers and pass the savings, which average 25 percent, along to us consumers.
Goes With: Drinking this wine with grilled hamburgers in the fresh air was a wonderful pairing. The fresh fruit and crisp acidity cut through the grease of the cheeseburgers. We also had hash brown potatoes and grapes. The food and wine were harmonious, with all the flavors meshing nicely.
I chilled the wine slightly, and I think that helped the flavors. The winery recommends serving it at 64 degrees.
I love making my own hamburgers, and the recipe is simple. Start with a pound or more of ground chuck, add half an onion finely diced, two eggs, a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper or Morton Nature’s Seasons. Mix it all up and form patties, usually 5-6 for each pound of meat.
I cook them over direct medium heat on the grill, about five minutes per side, being careful not to burn them. They’re best if there is still a little pink in the middle. For the last minute or so, I put a slice of American cheese on each burger.
The Cetamura would also pair well with pasta and tomato sauce, grilled chicken, pork chops or roast pork tenderloin and a variety of cheeses or Prosciutto di Parma.