by Fred McMillin
for February 19, 1998

For the Chianti Devotee


"It was the Etruscans who gave their name to Tuscany about 800 B.C. Their diet consisted of bread, oil and WINE."

...Rosemary George in "Chianti and the Wines of Tuscany"

Some three centuries ago the Italian poet Fulvio Testi wrote, "Etruscan Chianti kisses you and bites you and makes you shed sweet tears."

...Burton Anderson in "Wine Atlas of Italy"

The Rest of the Story

How about an affordable Chianti with the kiss but NOT the bite? It's a light, pleasing red for only $7. It's made by one of the great Tuscan houses, the Melini family. They know a bit about Chianti, building their first winery near Florence in 1705.

The Wine

1996 Borghi d'Elsa Chianti, DOCG, Italy
("Borghi" refers to "villages" on the Elsa River.)
Producer—Melini family
Composition: Dominated by the Tuscan classic, Sangiovese.
Food Affinities—It belongs with your favorite well-seasoned Italian dish; mine is pesto pasta.


As late as 1860 very little Chianti was exported because its weak bottles would break if an air-tight cork were inserted. In 1877 an honorary award was given to the person who worked out a stronger bottle still wrapped with the attractive protective straw cover. This started the huge export sales. Who received the honor? It was the leader of a winery at that time, Adolfo Laborel MELINI!

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

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