Wine of the Month: Peppoli Chianti Classico

Peppoli is an Italian red blend made from Sangiovese grapes. It is ruby red in color. On the nose Peppoli features fruity notes of red and black fruit, cherries, strawberries and blackberries accompanied by delicate balsamic and herbal aromas and a spicy undertone. On the palate it is vibrant and savory with supple tannins that back up a persistent and pleasantly fresh finish.

This Sangiovese blend from the Peppoli vineyards near Florence is made in the style and technique required for the DOCG Chianti Classico designation. Peppoli is recognized and appreciated for the full expression of its fruit. A wine that represents the Chianti Classico territory and its historic grape variety with typical floral and fruity aromas. Peppoli was first produced in 1985 and since 2013 part of the harvest undergoes vinification at the Antinori nel Chianti Classico cellars. The Antinori family has been producing wine in Italy for six centuries and has several estates throughout Tuscany and Umbria.

Varietal of the Month: Sangiovese

The most widely planted grape variety in Italy, Sangiovese is a medium-bodied red wine known for its tart and acidic fruit flavors and high tannins. It is most often identified with Tuscan wines and is the varietal used in DOCG Chianti Classico. In Italy, wines are most often identified and classified by region rather than the type of grape used in the wine. DOCG or Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita means the method of production and quality is controlled and guaranteed by traditional and certified techniques. The winemaker must adhere to strict rules regarding varietal, harvest, yield, fermentation, bottling and labeling.

The territory of Chianti spans between the cities of Florence and Siena. Only wines that have been grown and produced within the Chianti zone can bear the name DOCG Chianti Classico. The DOCG band at the top of the bottle ensures its authenticity and quality. Some bottles will also have the 1716 Gallo Nero logo (black rooster) which symbolizes the longstanding heritage of the Chianti area. This can be seen on the back of the Peppoli bottle.

Food Pairings:

Beef, Pork, Marinara Sauce, Roasted Meat, Hard Cheeses, Salami. Sangiovese wines from the Chianti region have high tannins and acidity. They are balanced by rich flavors and fats like those found in red meat, butter and olive oil. 

Recipe:

Chianti-Braised Beef with Gorgonzola Polenta

Serves: 4

4 to 5 pounds beef brisket or pot roast
2 1/2 cups Chianti, divided
4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 1/2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 pound shitake mushrooms, stems removed & quartered
1 cup quick cook polenta
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Gorgonzola crumbles, more for garnish
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for garnish

Trim the fat cap on the brisket to less than a 1/4 inch. Place the brisket in a 9 x 13 pan. Add 1 cup of wine. Combine the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Rub the mixture into the meat on both sides. Cover and marinate overnight. Set out 1 hour before you are ready to cook to allow the meat to come to room temperature.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven. Sear the brisket on both sides for about 3 to 4 minutes over high heat. After searing, add remaining wine to deglaze and then the broth and balsamic. Bring liquid to a simmer. Cover the pot and place in a 300 degree oven to cook for 4 hours. Can also transfer all ingredients to a slow cooker and cook for 6 hours.  

After 3 hours in the oven or 5 hours in the slow cooker, add the mushrooms. Cook for another hour and check to see if meat is fork tender and easy to pull apart. If not, continue to cook. Add more broth, if necessary. Shred meat with two forks or slice. Set aside to cool and absorb juices.

To make the polenta, bring chicken broth and milk to a boil. Remove from heat and add the polenta while continuously stirring for about 3 minutes. Should have the consistency of mashed potatoes. Stir in the Parmesan and gorgonzola. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if necessary.

Spread polenta over a serving platter and top with the meat. Spoon over some of the juices. Garnish with additional olive oil and gorgonzola around the polenta.

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