Have we, in our climb up the ladder of success, forgotten an old friend that helped to get us where we are today?

I am alluding to a companion who accompanied us on our way to success; the immortal, basket clad bulberous bottle of Chianti wine.

With the passage of time, our wants and tastes have changed and we have moved on.

It might be fun however, to return to those days of yesteryear and renew an acquaintance with that old friend.

Today’s Chianti is presented in modern straight sided, unjacketed bottles however, if you look hard enough, there are still one or two producers keeping the old style bottle-in-a-basket.

Da Vinci 2016 Chianti ($12.99). Although not swathed in a straw basket or in the bulb shaped bottle of the past, Da Vinci 2016 Chianti is as true an old fashioned Tuscan masterpiece as you can get. The brilliant deep garnet color heralds fresh and pleasant aroma of violets and dried plums with a hint of wild berries in the background. The flavor is full and powerful, accenting blackberries, plums and an earthy flavor that has become synonymous with Chianti. As far as what this wine will accompany, everything, after all, it is Chianti.

Castllo Di Albola Chianti Classico ($17.99). The Castllo Di Albola Chianti Classico is a wine that is made from the traditional Chianti grape variety, the Sangiovese, which has been grown in a specific area designated by the Italian government as the “Classico District.” The wine has a complex fruit aroma with the accent on plums and cherries. The flavor exhibits the same plum/cherry elements that we remember, which mingles with raisins and oak. There is enough tannin in the wine to assure many years of life but it is not enough to make the wine uncomfortable or too austere. This is an exceptional wine that should not be relegated to accompany only an Italian meal. It can accompany any of the red meats or cheese dishes or, just quiet sipping.

Brancaia 2013 Chianti Classico Riserva ($26.99). A Chianti Classico Riserva is a typical Chianti wine that has been made from grapes grown in the “Chianti Classico” district and given a little extra care. This particular Chianti has been given more than two years of extra aging in oak barrels before being released to the public. What results is a smooth, full flavored wine with a bit of oak in the background and a brilliant fruit flavor. Good grapes do make a better wine, so do try this one it may just bring back some long forgotten old memories.

Cecchi 2015 Chianti ($12.99). This wine is a picture perfect Chianti, with all of the flavors and aromas that made Chianti an international favorite. It is a big and robust wine that despite all of its power, maintains a soft velvet-like character. The wine has a complex fruit aroma with the accent on plums and cherries. The flavor exhibits the same plum and cherry elements, which mingles with black raisins and just the slightest hint of oak. It is a fantastic accompaniment for Italian cuisine and a great way to relive the past.

Cecchi Chianti Classico Storia di Famiglia 2015 ($21). Cecchi Chianti ($19.99). This wine comes from one of the oldest producer of Chianti wines in Tuscany and the first taste will confirm why they have lasted this long. Powerful flavors and aromas lead to a smooth mouth feel and a long and fascinating finish. My only comment, it is an exciting and enjoyable wine.

Cecchi Chianti Classico Riserva di Famiglia ($36). A bit pricey for a college time memory but more than worth its price. The color is a deep, dense ruby red and the aroma is kaleidoscopic, alternating between cherry and blackberry with hints of tobacco, leather and cedar. These aromas continue into the flavor where they merge with warm spice and fruit. This wine is truly a work of art.

Editor’s note: The prices listed in this column reflect the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Bennet Bodenstein is a wine enthusiast and book author whose column appears in publications throughout the country.

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