Chianti - The Classic Wine of Italy

Vineyard near Greve en Chianti

Vineyard near Greve en Chianti

Dating back to the 13th Century, wines produced in Chianti are probably the most recognized Italian wine. With apologies to lovers of wines from other areas in Italy such as Friuli, Piedmont, Abruzzo, Veneto, Umbria and Sicily, Chianti and, more importantly, Chianti Classico are classically Italian.

While some of us of a certain age were first introduced to Chianti in a straw basket, those days and that wine are best forgotten for it was a thin, insipid wine. After WWII, many vintners had fled to the U.S., and the area suffered from a lack of talent and bad wine management (seeking higher yields instead of quality yields) for a couple of decades.

Quality returned to the area with an enforcement of higher standards and techniques. A Chianti’s grapes have to be grown in a defined part of Tuscany, primarily around Florence and Siena, and include 70% Sangiovese grapes. That Chianti receives a DOC classification on the label (Denominazione di Origine Controllata). Chianti Classico is the higher level of classification and must be made with 80% Sangiovese, and requires a minimum of 24 months of maturation, most of that in oak barrels. Classico receives the DOCG classification on the label (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). The bottles are also recognizable by the black rooster on a pink label (gallo nero) on the bottle neck.

Some of the top producers in the area, notably Angelo Gaja (who originally had vineyards in the Piedmont making Barolo and Barbaresco) and Piero Antinori, resolved to make wines of distinction and rebelled against the rigid Chianti standards of 70-80% Sangiovese and created what became known as Super Tuscans. These wines blended Sangiovese with Cabernet and/or Merlot according to the wine maker’s tastes and were not eligible for the Chianti designation. However, their quality caught on with wine writers and critics, and soon became wildly popular with wine lovers - at least those who could afford the prices these special wines commanded. Antinori created Tignanello, the most well-known and one of the most expensive. I shared a bottle with friends in Italy a few years ago and it was sublime (I’ll leave the snooty wine adjectives to wine writers).

Sangiovese grapes ripening in the late August sun near Florence.

Sangiovese grapes ripening in the late August sun near Florence.

Another favorite Chianti wine that is not called Chianti are the wines of Montalcino, a small hilltop town southwest of Florence. Here Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino are made exclusively from a varietal of Sangiovese grapes called Sangiovese Grosso. The Brunellos are very popular, age-worthy and usually begin at around $50 a bottle. The Rossos are made for enjoying now at less than half the price. This is one of the most picturesque towns in Italy and well worth a visit for lunch or an extended stay. If you are a fan of Brunello, there are merchants in town that will help you select and package a case for shipment back to the U.S.

Brunellos on display in Montalcino.

Brunellos on display in Montalcino.

Vineyards around Montalcino.

Vineyards around Montalcino.

Let’s get back to Chiantis and other wines from Tuscany, since not all of us are in the habit of drinking $50-80 bottles of wine nightly. There are many producers making good quality Chiantis and we feature several bottles on our menus at all three of our locations. Antinori’s Santa Cristina Toscana is a wonderful food wine, blended from four grapes including Sangiovese (so, while it is grown in Chianti, it isn’t called Chianti). M’tucci’s Italian also features Toscolo Chianti Classico and Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico and Melini Chianti. M’tucci’s Moderno has both of the aforementioned Chianti classicos. M’tucci’s Italian Market & Pizzeria offers a Rufina Renso Masi Chianti DOCG (the highest classification for the region).

For my taste buds, the vast majority of European wines are made for food - not for sipping as a cocktail, and Chianti is not an exception. I think most of them are too tannic for quaffing, but are perfect for pasta, steaks and hearty stews. Do the experiment yourself. Open a Chianti Classico and drink a glass with no food. Now drink the second glass with Pasta Bolognese or even a plate of prosciutto and taste the difference.


M’tucci’s Italian

Weekend Specials: Pan-Seared Icelandic Cod, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Grilled Artichoke Heart, Sautéed Arugula, Lemon Butter Caper Sauce 
Cut of the Day: 24 oz Bone-in Porterhouse,  Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus, Balsamic Reduction 

House Ravioli-Braised Harris Ranch Beef/Ricotta Ravioli, Caramelized Onion, San Marzano Tomato Ragu

 Braised special: Pink Patagonia Shrimp, Spicy Goat Cheese Tomato Sauce, House Rotatelli Pasta, Sautéed Spinach, Toasted Hazelnuts 

Father’s Day, June 16 - Treat Dad to Brunch or an evening meal. Make reservations now.

Subscribe to La Gazzeta to receive notice of our new summer menu - coming soon!

M’tucci’s Moderno

Osso Bucco Pomodoro $17
Tender Braised Duroc Osso Bucco, Roasted Red Peppers, Caramelized Onions, Italian Olives, Spicy Red Wine Marinara, Rigatoni Pasta, Shaved Parmesan, and Basil
Recommended Wine Pairing:
Toscolo Chianti, Italy  $7/$28

Icelandic Cod $26
It has a lean, mild flavor profile with large flakes and a tender-firm texture.
Recommended Wine Pairing:
Tomaresca Chardonnay, Abruzzo, Italy $7/$28

Hand Cut Steak of the Day:
24 oz T-Bone $33
Recommended Wine Pairing:
Bonanza Cabernet Sauvignon, California $9/$40

Tonight (May 17) 8:30: Lanie Nash Live in the Bar

Thursday (May 23) 6:00: Melissa Rios Live in the Bar

M’tucci’s Italian Market & Pizzeria

May 23- June 2: Beer Week Tap Takeover with Steel Bender Brewyard - We’ll feature SkullBucket IPA, ETTu Brut IPA, Berliner Weisse and the Kolsch. Albuquerque Beer Week

May 31, 6:00 - Beer Week Collaboration with Dialogue Brewing. Four course menu paired with Dialogue’s European style beers. Tickets available at Dialogue Taproom, 1501 1st St NW. $40 per person.

Every Thursday - Sunday: Order M’tucci’s pizzas, sandwiches and boards while visiting La Cumbre Westside. The patio is the place to be (although you might want to dine inside this weekend!).


M’tucci’s Monthly Photo Contest

Our April winner was Megan McNutt, who receives a $50 gift certificate to any M’tucci’s location. The May contest is underway, so enter soon and enter often. Post a photo from M’tucci’s with friends, food or beverages on your Facebook page or your Instagram feed and tag the photo #lovemtuccis. The winning photo is chosen from the three photos with the most likes.


Did you know you can find our market items at a couple of locations? We deliver our fresh bread every Tuesday and Friday to Silver Street Market at 2nd and Silver. Choose from Sourdough, Fennel Rye, Wheat, Baguette, Ciabatta, Raisin Rosemary and Focaccia.

Drinking at Bosque in Nob Hill? You can order a M’tucci’s Charcuterie Board while there.


Area service industry workers can get a Service Industry card from us by showing proof of employment. With the card you receive 10% off your check every day and 20% off on Sundays from 6:00 - 9:00. Dine in only.


New specials for the month of May will be published in this space next Tuesday or Wednesday. You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram every Wednesday.


Our food is available for delivery with Door Dash or for pick up. Pick up something for the weekend or on your way home from work. The links to ordering are on the Home page.


Videos about making cocktails and pasta and getting to know the M’tucci’s culture. Click here


We would appreciate your vote and support in the newest Best of the City poll. We feel pretty strongly that we are the best in these categories: Bartender, Bloody Mary, Craft Cocktails, Happy Hour, Appetizer Menu, Brunch, Chef, Dessert, Gourmet Pizza, Pizza and Wine List. We won last year for Waitstaff and Italian Restaurant and would love to keep our record intact. Click here to vote.


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