By Jim Campanini
The Wine Novice
The following wines were sampled and discussed on the Grapefully Yours Wine Podcast posed on Tuesday, Jan. 10 on InsideLowell.com. Click on the link to view a video of the show.
Castello Querceto Chianti Classico 2017 DOCG, Greve, abv. 13% – For an entry-level wine, Querceto Chianti Classico is an overachiever on quality and price ($14.99 at the Wine ConneXtion in North Andover). Now five years old, it’s still fresh, juicy and bright in red cherry fruit. The sangiovese-based wine is aged in French oak for up to two years and delivers a soft mouthfeel and sweet tannins.
There’s a lot of history behind Castello Querceto. In 1897, the Francois family bought the 16th century medieval castle and surrounding hillside land – some of the most beautiful in Tuscany – and turned it into a farm and winery.
In 1924, Carlo Francois’s winery was a founding member of the Chianti Classico consortium which helped to establish government guidelines for the famous appellation, which stretches from Florence to Sienna.
A fifth generation is now running the enterprise, which includes the production of both wine and olive oil.
Castello Querceto also produces a Chianti Classico Riserva and Chianti Classico Gran Selezione – a fairly new government-regulated designation that sets the most rigid quality control standards for the production of DOCG Chianti Classico wine.
Maintaining consistency from vintage to vintage is crucial to any vintner wanting to build a loyal following. And certainly Castello Querceto has kept its Chianti Classico in good company. Critics ratings for its entry level Chianti Classico are about as solid as it gets, with the 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 vintages scoring in the 89-91 point range over that period.
If you are looking for value from one of Tuscany’s top wines, Querceto Chianti Classico hits the sweet spot on palate and price.
Waterdog Reserva 2019, Portugal, abv. 13%, $9.99 – The Wine Goddess, my wife Mary Lee, selected this bottle on a recent shopping expedition to Costco. I’m glad she did. Portuguese wines are extremely undervalued for their quality and price, and this is a gem from the Jose Maria da Fonseca family winery which dates back to the 19th century.
The red wine is a blend of the native grapes Castellao (70%) and Touriga Nactional (30%). The fruit is sourced from estate-owned vineyards in the Setubal peninsula in southwester Portugal. The soils are mixed with sandy loam and limestone, the latter helping to create wines with a distinct mineral trait. (Jose Maria da Fonseca also owns the Jose de Sousa winery in the Alentejo province, which I visited in 2019.)
The wine is named for the treasured Portuguese Waterdog breed which is known for being loyal, loving and intelligent.
The Fonseca winemaking team ages the wine in new oak for six months.
Intensely fruity, the medium-bodied wine fills the palate with sweet blueberry and black cherry flavors that crest on a velvety frame. The finish gets a spicy boost of black pepper and vanilla, a taste that hangs on for a decent amount of pleasurable moments.
Waterdog Reserva is a tasty treat at $9.99 a bottle and would perk up any party or barbecue where grilled meats and pork or pasta dishes are served.
Wine Enthusiast magazine rated it 90 points.