Message in a Bottle

I try to write a wine column every couple of weeks, unless life gets crazy, as it has over the past month or so. In that period of time, I will usually get the chance to have perhaps two or three dinners where I will want to serve a bottle of wine.

Because I’m such a proponent of matching food and wine, sometimes a particular dish will drive me to the wine store to buy a bottle to match, and other times I’ll see a wine in the Yukon Liquor Corp. that will inspire met to put together a good dinner to go with it. The following is an example.

Past readers will know that I’m a fan of Italian reds, particularly the wines of the Tuscany region of North Central Italy. On a recent trip to the YLC, one of the helpful sales associates there pointed out a new Tuscan IGT that they are stocking, called Fattoria Viticcio Toscana Bere 2009 (about $19.00). The 2009 Bere is a new addition to the YLC’s roster, and is made from a blend of 1/2 traditional Italian Sangiovese grapes blended with 1/4 each of traditionally French (though now grown in Tuscany) Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

As I have written before, this happy blend of traditionally Italian and French wine tastes has emerged as one of the gems of Italian wine-making (most of the world refers to them as “Super Tuscans”), but stodgy Italian bureaucrats insists that, as the wines are partially comprised of “straniero” (foreign grapes), they must be classified under the Italian wine classification rules and sold under the generic heading of IGT, or Indicazione Geographica Tipica. This is a government classification was created to recognize unusually high-quality wines that, because of their foreign grapes, do not fall under one of the Italian classic wine classifications. Any time I see IGT wines, I have a craving to taste them, and they almost never disappoint. Look for the IGT designation on the label!

Aside from the aesthetically pleasing bright red colour of this wine, it has a rich bouquet of red cherry and currant, and a slightly spicy flavor that went very well with some beef ribs that I barbecued. What made me particularly happy is that this wine comes from the hills surrounding the beautiful town of Greve, half way between Florence and Sienna. One of the cradles of the “slow food” movement, Greve was also the home of nautical explorer Amerigo Vespucci, after whom America is named. Even better, just up the hill from Greve is a really cool butcher!

Dario Cecchini, who inherited his family’s butcher shop, Antica Macceleria Cicchini, brought the shop into the spotlight when he started inviting musician friends to stop by on Saturdays and play while he cut meat. He also studied Dante’s writing, and would often quote passages from The Inferno and other Dante works while he butchered. People started to come, not just to buy the superbly marbled Tuscan beef from an immaculately restored traditional Italian butcher shop, but to have the cultural experience of hearing Tuscany’s greatest poet recited, accompanied by music that ranges from classical string quartets to Jimi Hendrix. Cecchini has been on Italian MTV butchering meat and reciting poetry, and the products of his shop would be an ideal accompaniment to the Fattoria Viticcio Toscana Bere 2009. His shop and activities have been written about in books, and featured in all manner of travel and food shows. You can check out his website at

I find that wine is often as much a story about place and history and food experiences, all of which add to the richness of tasting experience. So this wine connects me to a beautiful place, the slow food movement, and a rockstar butcher. Even the corkscrew I used to open the Viticcio Toscana Bere 2009 made me smile. I bought it in Greve!


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