2014 Monte Antico Rosso & 2015 Basilica Cafaggio Chianti Classico

Two Costco Italian Wines for Pizza and Pasta Pairing

Fast facts:

  • 2014 Monte Antico Rosso  ($8.89 @Costco; California)
  • 2015 Basilica Cafaggio Chianti Classico ($9.79@Costco; California)

2014 Monte Antico Rosso & 2015 Basilica Cafaggio Chianti Classico

Ever been asked: “if you had to choose one cuisine to eat every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?”  When I am asked, I don’t hesitate in proclaiming that my choice would be Italian food. Heck, who among us has not had cold pizza for breakfast?

One of the things you discover about the dishes from wine producing regions is that they pair especially well with the wines from the same region. Makes sense right?  Winemakers for centuries have crafted wines that go best with the food the locals are eating, and pairing with their wines.

As a general rule, the wines of Central Italy are dry, medium -bodied and with balanced acidity that makes them pair well with a wide variety of foods, but especially with Italian influenced dishes whether they feature red sauces or white cheesy ones.

You could say that Italy is just one big vineyard and it wouldn’t be TOO much of an exaggeration.  It trails only France and Spain in terms of acres (or more precisely hectares, as the correct metric unit of measurement) planted to grapes.  And nowhere do these wine grapes achieve their fullest potential than in Tuscany, or Toscana. The region produces some of the most sought after – and age-worthy – wines in the world.

You will notice from their labels that the Monte Antico is labeled as Toscana (wine from Tuscany) and the other as Chianti Classico.  What’s the difference?  There are more rules governing what can be labelled Chianti Classico (for example, a minimum of 80% of the blend must be comprised of Sangiovese) as the wines must come from a more narrowly prescribed area.  In short, all Chianti Classico comes from Tuscany, but not all Tuscan wines are Chianti Classico, which are a specific subset of Tuscan wines.  Got it?

All that said, both of these wines are worth trying, especially given their sub-$10 price point. They are similar, but different. Here are my notes:

Monte Antico Rosso:

  • 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot
  • Deep ruby color and elegant nose of leather, black cherry, licorice and plums introduce flavors of vanilla, ripe red fruit and tannins softened by nearly 6 years of aging. Tastes like wine twice the price.

Cafaggio Chianti Classico:

  • 100% Sangiovese
  • Strong red fruit influences with of black cherry leading the way.  Also, notes of fruitcake, plum and a bit of black pepper on the finish.

Lastly, we really enjoyed the relatively low alcohol levels in these two wines. Both clock in around 13% and it may not sound like much, but when you may be having more than one glass with dinner, it is perceptibly less intoxicating than new world wines that typically run 14% to 15.5%.


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