Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Banfi Bell'Agio Chianti 2010

We all know that there is a lot of very cheap wines on the market today.  Many of them have the bad reputation and are just cheap, bad wine and many of them are unfairly criticized only because old wives tales, lack of knowledge or just the way a wines are packaged.  I know, I lived through the 60's and 70's when Chianti in a basket bottle was the  biggest fad to ever hit the wine drinking world.  Our first apartment was decorated with many of these empty bottles, topped with a candle that was lit until the wax dripped onto the bottle.  Instant Tuscan Decor!   At that time Chianti was becoming very popular and as more and more producers exported their wine in traditional bottles, the basket began to disappear. Today, only a few producers still use the fiasco bottle.
I've heard and read a few stories on how the basket came into being. The best and most logical reason follows.

When wine was first produced in the Italian region of Tuscany, and probably in many other regions, it was put into bottles that were made by glass blowing.  These bottles were round on the bottom and the glass was a bit fragile.  This was fine for the wines that stayed in the region, but as the world began to shrink and demand for the wines in far away countries became higher, the wine producers began shipping their wines by land carriers and ships.
Rough roads and heavy seas accounted for a lot of breakage.  Thus, the invention of the fiasco. 
photo by Shirley
The basket(fiasco) provides protection during transportation and handling, and also a flat base for the container. Thus the glass bottle can have a round bottom, which is much simpler to make by glass blowing.
Fiaschi can be efficiently packed for transport, with the necks of upturned bottles safely tucked into the spaces between the baskets of upright ones.
The one I opened tonight is one of my favorite Italian red table wines.  The Banfi Bell'agio Chianti 2010 ($10) and it has been at least 10 years since my last one, so this was more a trip down memory lane for Shirley and I and we found that nothing much has changed.

A little cherry with some tart blueberry and a very little burnt wood like aromas as I expected.  Nice and smooth in mouth with flavors of black cherry some spicy berry, like teaberry, ending with a short to medium finish that was smooth and berry like. In short a very plain wine, but an awful good table wine.  For dinner, with the wine, we had pasta with Shirley's homemade sauce,  a salad of tomatoes, mozzarella, romaine lettuce, artichoke hearts and pepperoncini and freshly baked garlic bread. "bel pasto, ottimo vino"  This wine will pair very nicely with Italian dishes like lasagna, chicken or seafood riggies, red meats and hard cheese (mild or sharp) and was not bad at all just sipping.
For an inexpensive red table wine, in my opinion the Bell'Agio Chianti cannot be beat.  And when the wine is done, just add a candle and start re-decorating. Highly recommended. 

No comments: