G’day guys and welcome to my website’s first Italian label. And we’re starting this one off with a wine I haven’t done yet, a Sangiovese. And a region I haven’t done yet; Tuscany.
Today’s bottle comes to us from the label Ciao Bella. And right off the bat, I’m not sure what to make of it on first impressions. Most European labels available on shelves like to upkeep the tradition of fine wine, writing in cursive, a classically printed sketch of a logo. Ciao Bella, in contrast, is written in large bold retro font. The artwork is a sepia-tone graphic design of a stereotypical Italian girl, brunette with cherry red lips (or maybe a holidayer who has been sucked in by an Italian tourist trap) in a red polka dot peasant blouse, motorbike goggles, scarf flapping in the wind, riding on a glossy red Vespa glistening in the Italian sun. Like one of those canvas prints you can buy in Fantastic Furniture. Clearly, the label wanted to grab drinkers attentions with it’s unusual and vibrant design. Attracting them to a wine that, if the blurb on the website is to be believed, is equally vibrant and juicy, by implanting the vision in the heads of customers of a lush, sun-drenched Italian holiday. The smooth switchback roads through the alps and winding down towards town, perhaps at the wheel of a red ‘sixty-three Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider with the chrome grill glistening, the restraint masculinity of the mechanically injected motor humming along the road with your sunnies on and that song from The Italian Job playing through your stereo, your drive down to a prestigious restaurant in a beautiful old Italian city centre with cobbled streets and ancient buildings. Well that’s the jist I got off TopGear anyway. Tuscany, the northwestern-most region of the leg of Italy, has been hailed as one of the most famous wine regions by all manner of pop culture. Chianti, that famous wine in the straw basket bottle hails from Tuscany.
So we’ve covered the nature of the bottle already today. The bold, modern-art like design. But apart from this, we see the closure is a plain aluminum cap. For anybody interested, the cap is labelled with a logo of an old Vespa scooter, which may or may not tickle someone’s fancy. But let’s not judge a wine by its appearance, like we should not judge a book by its cover. I open it and the nose is sickly sweet and sour, with many attributions of whatever yeast this is. If you had blindfolded me before I gave this a nose I’d swear black and blue it was Cabernet Sauvignon. I pour a small glass to taste, the nose mostly unchanged by this point. Still the spitting image of Cabernet Sauvignon, were it not for a thick undertone of fresh sourdough. The wine, a deep iridescent red tint, a purpley pink at times. The nose, now given a fresh breath, has the subtle, shy note of white bread. So let’s give this a taste, on first impressions it reminds me of red cordial we drank as kids, tasty but watery. Open in taste, but no real body. But, give the vino a swirl or a gargle and you can bring out a more earthy, sour quality to it. Deep and dark in tannin. This wine it seems could suit either palette, at first it struck me as a sort of light-bodied red for the sort of mild savory cuisine associated with Italian wine. Which in essence it is, but it can be convinced to take on a drier personality. So let’s again now with a full glass. The nose jumps straight to it’s oxidized personality, no doubt accelerated in the inconsistent pouring of the wine, glugging as air competes to escape with the vino. So let’s see if the palette improves likewise. At first, I’m unimpressed, detecting no change at all. But happily the sour background returns, more mellow in harmony with the sweet taste of the wine.
In closing: This wine surely serves as an accompanying light-bodied red to the more popular vin Pinot Noir in it’s class. Suitable for tasty tomato-happy meals, or white meat. This wine spares no time selling itself as a pairing for Italian food. While I know a few good pubs in town that cook a real nice chicken parmigiana unfortunately none sell Sangiovese, so for that meal to work for me at least my dinner is going to be served in a styrofoam case. So my two cents is; find a pub that sells Sangiovese, or get an Italian cookbook. Or just enjoy this wine by itself. Cheers