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Wine blog

by Tina

Pisa and its wine bars

So, talking about Pisa. Even though the city is quite cozy to relax in, there is not much else to see but the leaning tower. However, Pisa actually has a lot of interesting wine bars to dive into. Pisa may not be close to a super famous wine region like Florence or Siena but when looking for places to drink wine in, they have a pretty good selection (maybe even better than Florence and Siena!).

I visited a day in May and after hitting all the classic tourist spots I started the hunt for good wine bars. Here are my top three wine bars in Pisa:

Bistrot San Frediano (Piazza S. Frediano 12)
The first stop was a wine bar/restaurant for lunch. I stumbled upon this place on instagram when looking at pictures with the hashtag Pisa, and they had just posted a picture of some newly arrived wines that captured my interest. The place had an extensive wine list with a lot of fun wines from countries like France, Slovenia and Austria to mention a few (not to common to find wines from other countries here than Italy…). Extra plus for the nice pictures of the wine regions in the wine list. I got a recommendation for a very good, dry Lambrusco and had it with great cheese and cold cuts classical to Tuscany. The wine was so light and fresh – exactly what you want from a Lambrusco.

Cecco Rivolta (Piazza delle Vettovaglie 4)
Stop number two became Cecco Rivolta, a place that did not look too special but when stepping inside the very small bar they had some exiting bottles along the walls, all from famous Champagne producers to lesser known natural producers in regions like Jura and Loire, and from all of Italy of course. Besides all the exiting wines they also served good pre dinner-snacks. The owner was very knowledgeable and recommended great wines. If you like exiting natural wines this would be the place for you.

La Gallina Nera (Via Camillo Benso Cavour 29)
After some more walking around it was time for late dinner. La Gallina Nera translates to the black chicken. In Tuscany there is a lot of talk about Gallo Nero, the black rooster, which is the symbol of Chianti Classico. The selection of wine here was not as good as at the other places; however they had some goodies at a reasonable price. The wine for the night became Occhipinti’s Frappato, from Sicily.

So when visiting Pisa, don’t spend too long time trying to take the perfect picture of the leaning tower, spend it at some of the great wine bars instead!

 

Chianti Classico – Riecine

I first tried a Riecine wine last time I was in Tuscany, September 2017. It was their Chianti Classico and I was quite amazed over the elegance the wine had – very light bodied and almost floral, not what I usually find in Sangiovese-based wines since most of them tend to be a bit more full bodied with ripe fruit flavours (at least when buying them in Sweden…). A few months later I came by another one of their wines, Riecine di Riecine, at a tasting in Stockholm and I was stuck. It was something about the light and pure character about the wine that made me intrigued.

When moving to Tuscany in March 2018 it felt like a necessity to visit the Riecine winery and learn more – so in April I went. First let’s talk some background. The Riecine as we know it today was founded in 1971 but wine has been made here for a long time since the vineyards used to be owned by a close by monastery. The winery is based in Gaiole-in-Chianti, the eastern part of Chianti Classico. Here they have just over 20 ha, some of them their own and some plots rented. Today they produce about 65.000 bottles each year but are hoping to raise their volume soon. About 80% of the wines are being exported.

So winemaking. Most of the fermentation takes its place in cement vats and all is done with the grapes natural yeast. Since this will give the fermentation a slow start it also helps the wine receive its perfumed aromas with a few days cold maceration before the fermentation kicks off. The newest investment would be the cement “eggs” (cement tanks in the shape of an egg) that supposedly moves the wine inside naturally, all the time, because of the unique shape. The ageing in oak here is mainly made in tonneaux, all from French oak.

Trying the wines was amazing. Starting with their rosé from the dry vintage of 2017 made from 100% Sangiovese and all through to the sweet wine I was impressed. The rosé was so fresh the acidity would almost pop in your mouth. A very clean type of rosé with fresh fruit flavors like cranberry gave the wine a bit more structure than you usually credit rosé wines for having. The Chianti Classico 2016 was a delight as always with a good balance between ripe and fresh/acidic fruit and a light body. The Merlot of 2016 (just to be released for the first time when I visited) was surprisingly good although maybe a bit too sweet in its fruit flavors for my personal taste (may have had too much Sangiovese lately..?). This vintage came in 2000 bottles; if it gets popular it will probably get more volume in the following years.

Their “super tucan” wine is called La Gioia and is made from 100% Sangiovese from the best plots. The skins will macerate for 30-40 days and the wine is aged in French tonneaux barrels (40% new) for 30 months. The 2014 I tried was described as a bit lighter than usually but tasted just fine to me. Light body, of course more ripe fruit flavors and a long, almost salty, finish. Their sweet wine is called Sebastiano, I tried the vintage of 2001. It is made from Trebbiano and Malvasia (like most sweet wines of the region) and it is of course a passito, so made from dried grapes. It ages for 10 years in oak but unlike the classical sweet wine of the region, Vin Santo, here they actually top up the barrels to prevent too much oxygen to get in contact with the wine. Another big difference from the Vin Santo is the oak barrels; Riecine uses barriques, while Vin Santo is usually aged in barrels around 100 l (not bigger than 300 l by law in Chianti Classico). It was very light and elegant for a sweet wine, with hints of nuts and candied orange.

The highlight of the tasting was the IGT wine though, Riecine Rosso Toscana 2013. It is fermented in cement, 5000 l vats with open tops, and aged in oak barrels for 30 months. Like most wines here it is made from 100% Sangiovese and they talk about this wine as their most typical expression of Sangiovese, Riecine and Gaiole-in-Chianti. The grapes comes from Chianti Classico vineyards, the reason it is not labeled as such is the Burgundian bottle shape – quite interesting. The wine is so elegant and complex that I don’t know where to start. Both the color and the body are extremely light. It is perfumed with soft red fruits and dried flowers. The tannins and the acidity are very well balanced… I ended up buying a bunch of them. Who could resist?

 

Let’s talk Austria

Now I am up and running for the year of 2018 with my wine column in Umeå Tidning. First up is Wachau in Austria and its wines like Smaragd. Learn more (in Swedish) here!

 

Happy New year

Today this years last wine column for Umeå Tidning came out. Click here to read (in Swedish) about sparkling wines and the term “millésime” and see my recommendation for two bottles of Champagne for the New Year!

In the same issue of the magazine there is also an interview with me about how to best serve your beverage, which glass ware to pick, and what to think about when matching food and wine. Happy New Year!

 

About me

About me

My name is Tina Johansson and I am a Certified Sommelier from Sweden living in Stockholm. I work as a head sommelier at Restaurant Ekstedt and study the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines. I have also competed in Sommellerie and I was Swedens Best Female Sommelier in 2017. Follow my travels through food and wine here!