Sometimes, you luck out in liquor stores. And sometimes you don’t. But I have learned that it is worth trying it out. And with this find, the 2005 Melini Vigneti La Selvanella Chianti Classico Riserva, I definitely lucked out. According to Wine Searcher, the wine retails for $25 and up. I found this lone bottle on the sales shelf for $12. There is always a good chance that an older vintage wine sold in a liquor store (instead of a professional wine store) has gone bad because of poor storage conditions etc. But it is sometimes worth a try, and it all depends on what discount the store is giving you.
Some of you know that I have made Melini’s 2010 Chianti Borghi d’Elsa my go to, everyday Chianti. It is nicely affordable and delivers refreshing, light wines. When bought in the magnum bottle, which are available at Costco, it is hard to beat price wise for a good dinner companion.
Cantine Melini is a big Italian wine producer. The winery was established in 1705 and today covers over 550 hectares of land in Chianti and Chianti Classico. The vineyards reportedly cover 136 hectares divided in 5 farms. While the Borghi d’Elsa is an everyday wine, La Selvanella is on the other end of Melini’s spectrum: It is their top notch wine which has garnered attention by Italy’s leading wine guide, the Gambero Rosso (the 2006 La Selvanella got the coveted 3 glass rating). This vintage received 2 glasses in Gambero Rosso and 4 grapes in the Duemilavini guide. The 2005 vintage was rather difficult as far as the weather was concerned (lots of rain and low temperatures from June to August), but the grapes are said to have ripened enough. The wine is made with 100% Sangiovese grosso grapes which come from 49 hectares around Radda in Chianti, one of the top villages in Chianti. The grapes were harvested in October and after 20 days of maceration it ripened 30 months in French oak. It has 13.2% ABV and the winery gives it 10 to 12 years of ageing potential. (All this information can be found on the winery’s website)
We decanted the wine for about an hour. It poured as a darker red wine with very slight browning on the edges. In the nose, I got raisins, lots of plum and some sweetness as well as herbal aromas. The medium bodied wine showed mostly plums and prunes on the palate, with good acidity and medium tannins which were nicely round. There was some spice going on and it had a medium length finish. The wine was still very, very fresh, which surprised me. It is by far not nearing its end yet.
I really enjoyed this wine. At the price I bought it, it was a steal. It also paired great with the Pecorino Toscano (a young Pecorino with delicate flavors that has none of the ripened Pecorino’s saltiness which I don’t enjoy much) I was able to secure in San Antonio and awesome different, thinly sliced bacons from my favorite sausage maker in town, Biercamp (which is right around the corner). It transported me right back into Tuscany, on a warm fall day afternoon, sitting outside, munching on Pecorino Toscano, prosciutto and panini and having a glass of wine…there is no better compliment I can make a wine.