Chianti Classico’s future is a three-letter word: UGA

Chianti Classico Collection 2023 – Stazione Leopolda, Firenze

 

Deconstructing Unità Geografiche Aggiuntive, getting around with Masnaghetti, what about 2021? and 245 tasting notes from the 2023 Chianti Classico Collection

When the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico officially announced the launch of their UGA project in June of 2021 a profound new journey had begun. Making that right choice at the right time has paid quick and decisive dividends because the producers, media and yes, consumer have all been quick to embrace these 11 precisely defined sectors. History will show how original and profound an idea this really was. Unità Geografiche Aggiuntive offers an opportunity to officially tell the world about location, sense of place and how estates fit into the complex puzzle of the greater territory. In Chianti Classico this fundamental approach looks at sangiovese and its Gallo Nero progenitor as fastened individuals in a community, no two exactly the same and consumers deserve to know what separates but also unites one to another. The insistence that a general public does not care is both a disservice and an insult to their ever increasing wine intelligence. Each of the 11 Chianti Classico UGAs is possessive of a set of defining characteristics and though opinion is surely varied on pinning down those exact annotations, it gives us something to work towards. What is the defining feature of Castelnuovo Berardenga? Why does Castellina express the most classic red fruit? From where does Gaiole get those specific savoury notes? Who are the sangiovese of Greve? How do we describe the perfume of Lamole? Where do the specificities of Montefioralle originate? What is the impetus for Panzano’s silky textures? What makes Radda so fresh? Why is San Casciano so unique? How is it the wines of San Donato in Poggio so often remind of red citrus? What is the definition of a Vagliagli sangiovese? The answers to these questions are as complex as the whole of Chianti Classico is beautifully mysterious. Chianti Classico’s future is a three-letter word: UGA.

Related – Chianti Classico goes to eleven

On the surface UGA as a concept or construct may not seem an original idea but consider the other famous instigators. In Bourgogne the wines are organized by burg with every Premier and Grand Cru connected by association to their Villages. In recent times additional geographical mentions have been conceived though they too fall under the auspices of the distinction. In Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero the single most important identifiable feature of those wines are what the Langhe regions refer to as MGA (Menzione Geografica Aggiuntive). The key initial is the first, that being menzione, translated to English as “mention,” a word that refers to adjunctive label notations and by extension how wines are deliberated in conversation. Cru is the real operative and in numerous cases upwards of 10 or more producers will make nebbiolo indicated by a single menzione. The UGA system is dramatically different because it is neither restricted to cru or to village. While it may incorporate aspects of both what it really does is draw geographical lines, 11 of them to be precise, that delineate and organize sets of wines that share a studied, consciously calculated and common connective tissue or traits. For the first time in the history of Chianti Classico there is now a system to charter wines produced from out of a specific geographical area to now be appraised in similar light. Looking at it deeper there can also be groupings imagined, of like-minded producers and in turn shared viticultural plus winemaking practices, in other words, wines that have something in common by virtue of extension from their pinpointed places of origin. In the beginning the aggiuntive was “Classico” and now that the next Chiantishire box has officially been opened – there is no turning back.

Chianti Classico UGA

As a reminder, the recent (June, 2021) sub-dividing of the territory will allow producers to list their sub-zone of origin on the front label of their Chianti Classico wines. In addition to the UGA, going forward the new regulations for the Gran Selezione category at the top of the Chianti Classico pyramid will be (a minimum) 90 per cent sangiovese with support by only native grapes. Current rules for Chianti Classico in all three appellative levels; Vintage (Annata), Riserva and Gran Selezione draw on the same ampelographic base: 80-100 per cent sangiovese and up to a maximum of 20 per cent of authorized native and/or international red grapes. According to the Consorzio “the exclusive use of native local grape varieties has been approved as complementary to sangiovese, since they are more expressive and representative of the production zone and of traditional Chianti wine-growing. The decisions are based on such criteria as oenological recognizability, historical authenticity, renown and significance in terms of volumes produced. The intent of the UGA to represent the excellence of the territory, thus competing, in a more incisive way, with the greatest wines in the world.”

With Alessandro Masnaghetti

Related – Forever in Chianti Classico

Much of the UGA studies and findings were completed with the priceless help of cartographer and Chianti Classico scholar Alessandro Masnaghetti. Masnagthetti’s recent publication of his volume titled  L’Atlante dei Vigneti e delle UGA (The Complete Atlas of the UGA Vineyards) is the first true opus dedicated to the Chianti Classico. His dedication to the territory is felt in the most palpable of ways, in fact he begins by dedicating the volume in a most philanhropic way. A chi ha sempre ceduto nel Chianti Classico e a chi in futuro ci crederà. “To those who have always believed in Chianti Classico and to those who will believe in it in the future.” I have written and spoke this many times before, that Chianti Classico is the future and what this region, its people and their wines have instilled in me is a passion for study, education and forward thinking not committed to any other Italian denomination, nor anywhere outside of Italy for that matter. Like Masnaghetti I always look and think ahead, to what is coming next and Chianti Classico always abides. No other place in Italy continues to grow, expand its horizons and evolve like this territory.

‘Cuz he’s the Map Man, yeah, he’s the Mapman

Related – When frost strikes, Chianti Classico responds

What about 2021?

Telling it like it is, 2021 is a vintage for the ages when we speak of Chianti Classico wines. There have been terrific years in the last 10 or so and each for different reasons but I for one have never witnessed these kind of tannins, this peculiar excitement of tension, the clarity of vernacular of post-modern structure.  As a community the wines are suggestive of culture, natural selection and suitability, sustainability and the cumulative movement towards organics. The ’21 Chianti Classico Annata make use of traditional materials and resources and more than any recent vintage open a window into what kind of Riserva and Gran Selezione will arrive when the Chianti Classico Collection 2024 is shown. It just feels like we know how special those wines will be. It is true that a good deal of Classico level 2021s will be released to the markets this year but it has been a while since the adage “sangiovese needs time in bottle” has been as more important as it is from this particular vintage. On the surface these sangiovese can be understood by anyone but there are layers to peel away, nuances and graces to uncover, but most of all they are the sort to seek secondary character and will amaze when that stage is reached. At the collection and in the weeks since I have spoken with many producers and asked for their vintage assessment.

Alessandra Casini Bindi Sergardi – Bindi Sergardi, Vagliagli

Alessandra Casini Bindi Sergardi – Bindi Sergardi, Vagliagli: “A colder than normal Spring quarter, characterized by late April frosts, was followed by a hot summer and autumn, with the exception of October, which had typical temperatures. The most significant anomaly was observed in February, with a deviation of +2.1 °C compared to the average climate. Precipitation patterns also deviated from the norm: January and December were unusually rainy, while March, the summer quarter, and the September-October period experienced dryness. In 2021, the climate pattern was more consistent, with slightly lower temperatures and a bit more rainfall during the spring. This allowed for a longer and extended growing season. As a result, the grapes had more time to fully ripen, leading to wines with greater complexity and improved preservation of freshness. These wines exhibit a balanced acidity and, at the same time, a pronounced structure and a complex, well-defined fruit profile.

Principe Duccio Corsini – Villa Le Corti, San Casciano

Duccio Corsini – Principe Corsini – Villa Le Corti, San Casciano: “Just drank some Le Corti Chianti Classico 2021. The wine is very good, may be the best made at Le Corti in the Annata category. Very much terroir of San Casciano. In one word Goloso or “digest.”

With Federica Mascheroni

Federica Mascheroni – Volpaia, Radda: “The winter was not too cold and without much rain. In April we had a very cold few days and a small frost hit us. As you know usually the frost hit more of the lower altitude vineyards, but in that moment the much higher vineyards, because of the high temperature of the previous weeks, and the plants were much farther in growing compared to the one on the bottom of the hill. Anyhow the damage was not to high maybe around a two percent. In the last few years the season are quite dry and the rain come down in a crazy way :-(, because of this (and the high temperature) we keep the vineyard with grass: Cover crop (erba medica, inerbimenti vari) and we try to don’t take out the leaf from the plant and we do smaller number of cimature. We had very strong and extreme temperature, we reached 38° C.”

Volpaia Precipitation 2021

 

Chianti Classico Rainfall 2021

Chianti Classico Harvests 2018-2021

“Luckily we were able to have a long harvest to reach a good level of sugar and acidity, it was a little bit longer compared to the normality around 10 days, a nice rain helped us to have a good product in the cellar :-). The last vintage has been quite different compared to the others. It is difficult to make a comparison with a past vintage.”

Giovanni Manetti – Fontodi, Panzano

Giovanni Manetti – Fontodi, Panzano: “2021 was amazing in Panzano – a really great vintage. A good amount of rain between the winter and the Spring perfect to build a reserve of water in the soil. Quite cold in the week after Easter after the budding out that caused a delay in the growing the vegetation. Beautiful weather in June and July with mild temperatures and very sunny and warm in August but never too hot. A thunderstorm on August 28 provided a good rehydration and cooler temperatures during the night after that. Zero pressure of fungus during the growing and ripening season. The harvest for sangiovese started after Sept. 20th starting from younger vines and the best grapes have been picked between Sept. 25th and Oct. 10th. The wines are rich, complex , well structured with high quality tannins and a good acidity. All my wines are still maturing in oak and they taste wonderful.

With Iacopo Morganti – Il Molino di Grace, Panzano

Iacopo Morganti – Il Molino di Grace, Panzano: “I have my note about the climate and from this you can understand the vintage (I think) ! The winter 2021 was not too cold, but rainy until the end of March. Regular budding perhaps a little anticipated, the vines then slowed down the vegetative cycle due to a rather dry and cold April. In fact, on April 13th and 14th the temperatures dropped drastically, after an Easter with mild temperatures of 22/25 gradi celsius, and winter temperatures of -4 to -6 gradi celsius with difficult consequences for those who do our job, losing 50% of the production annual! Cazzo! (call it natural selection). The months of May and June were regular and not too hot or too cold with some rains which allowed good flowering. The summer as always very hot and dry especially July and August, but this is normal, Excellent ripening of the grapes in September and October thanks to some rains at the end of August beginning of September and also to an ideal climate with cooler temperatures at night, ventilation and sunshine during the day. All this has allowed an excellent harvest which for us began in early October, all very nice except for the quantity and for the Covid season.  From my phone I would like to send you some fire made at 4 AM from my self and the pictures of the consequence of the frost after two days. Believe me it was hard but the result is incredibly elegant quasi signorile I can’t translate. We still have all wines in oak, small production means incredible quality different from 2020 specially from the color (less) and the elegance and finesse. 2020 is more fruity and fresh more dark colour my be more easy to drink young.2021 will be a great vintage, again for me.”

Laura Bianchi – Castello di Monsanto, San Donato in Poggio

Laura Bianchi – Castello di Monsanto, San Donato in Poggio: “The summer was dry with only some sporadic rain in August, but the water reserves accumulated in the spring made it possible to avoid the stress of the plant. As for temperatures, the trend of the summer months was fairly regular without excessive heat waves. Furthermore, starting from the end of August the temperatures, while remaining quite high during the day, dropped considerably at night. This important thermal excursion has, in general, allowed an optimal completion of the ripening of the grapes. The harvest ended late on Oct. 18th.  Wines with very important structure and complex aromas, rich tannins and evident acidity, another vintage that will be able to age very well. Similar to 2019.”

Winemaker Manfred Ing – Querciabella, Greve

Manfred Ing – Querciabella, Greve: “2021 was a game of two halves. Abundant rainfall in winter was followed by ridiculously “unseasonably” warm weather in February and March, which got the vines excited and woke them up a little bit earlier than “normal”… whatever “normal” means ;). I remember clearly our first post Covid trade visitors were Canadians who came over for the early date of Chianti Classico Collection (which was moved to a later one) and they were nearly all in short sleeves after leaving Canada at minus 15C or whatever and coming over to 15C+ of gorgeous sunshine at Ruffoli. This warmth was followed by an icy cold week in April where temperatures dropped to well below zero in some parts of the valley below us. This all at a time when unfortunately some of the early ripening varieties had already burst. At the time it looked like the Chardonnay may have received a “tickle up” but it recovered well. Our reds were saved due to their higher altitudes but we did have significant losses on the coast in the Maremma. Spring was then followed by a warm, dry summer and this warmth resulted in smaller bunches and lower yields, something we have all come to get used to in these parts. Over the years of experience with these conditions we have learnt to manage our canopies and soils well to achieve perfect ripening. A small blessing from the season was the fact the vines were a little bit behind in development so there was no rush to start picking… A trap many fall into in a warm vintage! We were very fortunate as we were able to wait and wait and be patient and start to pick the Chardonnay only on the 13th of September, the latest we have ever started picking the Chardonnay at Querciabella! We got all the whites in within a week but again patience and experience told us to wait for the reds. We were then blessed with amazing rainfall at the end of September. Again, we still we waited for the Sangiovese! The biggest indicator for me was on the first of October there was still no water in the rivers and still nobody was out in the forests picking mushrooms, so we knew there was zero disease pressure and our Sangiovese would be perfectly healthy out there. So we continued to wait further, tasting regularly to get the picking dates just perfect. We started picking Sangiovese in that first week of October! It was incredible! With precision picking we made our way through the different villages from Greve, Radda, back to Greve, then back to Radda, then over to Gaiole, finishing off in our high altitude Casole terraces in Lamole on the 20th of October- so again incredibly late but with exceptional quality.”

Michael Schmelzer – Monte Bernardi, Panzano

Michael Schmelzer – Monte Bernardi, Panzano: “It was a great vintage, love the fruit aromas and the quality of the tannins plus the overall balance. I also think 2021 was also a perfect illustration of a vintage of the difference between perceived climate change problems versus poor choices in viticulture. In Panzano we had 800-plus mm of rain from January to May, nearly twice our annual rainfall (~450mm). After May, very to little rain until harvest.  If it wasn’t for a frost in five of our hectares we would have had a near record crop in 2021. We still had an abundant crop despite these five hectares bringing our average down. We had beautiful fresh aromas and quality tannins because our vines did not go under extreme stress, our viticultural choices made the difference, keeping the important leaves over our bunches, preventing them from being over exposed or burned, preserving important acidity.”

Monia Piccini – Il Palagio di Panzano

Monia Piccini – Il Palagio di Panzano, Panzano: “In winter it rained a lot, almost double the average. In terms of temperatures, the winter was slightly warmer than average. Spring 2021 as a whole recorded thermal values below average and rainfall 20 percent below average. There were extraordinarily high temperatures such as on March 31st with values close to 30°C and at the same time very low temperatures around March 20th and April 6th-10th with a strong frost. In the low hills below 250m there was severe frost damage, while in Panzano the damage was very much less than in the valley floor. Temperatures continued throughout April and May below the average by about 2°C, causing a strong delay in the vegetative restart after the frosts. At the beginning of June the vineyards had a strong vegetative delay, with flowering starting about 10-12 days later than usual. In June, temperatures recovered immediately with two small heat waves while July was only slightly warmer than average. The real heat wave of the summer occurred between 10 and 16 August, with temperatures close to 40° with sporadic burns on the leaves and uncovered bunches. The summer continued very dry, the third driest since 1955 with a rainfall deficit of over 60%. Under these conditions, the plants soon made up for most of the initial delay, but soon went into water stress as early as mid-August. The maturation went very slowly due to the lack of rain and only towards the end of September some storms allowed the plants to reach an acceptable maturity. The climatic trend favoured the production of healthy grapes. The production in our case was lower than the average for the years by a good 20 percent, in any case higher than in 2020, but in the lower hilly areas there were drops of 60-70 percent. The harvest was delayed compared to previous years in the hope to have a better maturation while waiting for rains, but the lowering of temperatures and the state of the plants prompted us not to postpone the harvest too much to avoid drying of the grapes and sugar levels that were too high. At the harvest the grapes were perfectly healthy, with high sugar values, higher acidity than usual but with good skin ripening thanks to the lower grape load compared to previous years. The new wines have very clean aromas, very ripe fruit, very high colour intensity, remarkable almost concentrated structures, dense but not dry tannins (thanks to a different vinification protocol) and marked acidity, high alcohol content.”

Sebastiano Capponi – Villa Calcinaia, Montefioralle

Sebastiano Capponi – Villa Calcinaia, Montefioralle: “The weather pattern in Chianti for 2021 was characterized by a rather cold and rainy January and February but at the same time by a very dry March with temperatures decidedly above the seasonal average, especially in the last decade, which favoured the start of budding of the vines. Unfortunately, this early spring was followed by a very cold beginning of April characterized by two-night frosts, on 7 and 8 April, which drastically reduced the number of productive buds on the plant. The thermal shock suffered by the vines and the climatic trend of the months of April and May, particularly cold and rainy, led to a delay in flowering which took place after the first ten days of June. The vegetative explosion due to the sudden increase in temperatures in June caused many difficulties in the management of the canopy but the rather dry climate in the summer months and the timeliness of the interventions did not allow the downy mildew to develop. On the other hand, the fight against powdery mildew was more problematic, also due to rather frequent ventilation which, in addition to conveying the spores of the fungus, contributed together with the absence of rain to dry out the soil. Temperatures in the summer months have always remained average with a good excursion between day and night until the days around August 15th when the African subtropical anticyclone, called Lucifer, arrived and caused severe damage to the grapes of the younger vines, which normally have a less developed canopy and a root system more sensitive to drought, especially those planted on plots with western and southern exposure where the afternoon sun has hit the most. Due to the combination of the frost in April, the sunstroke in August and the summer drought, the production was very small in quantity and the harvesting time went back to ancient times when Sangiovese was rarely picked before the month of October.  The lack of water in the soil, which certainly led to a physiological slowdown of the vine, in certain vineyards the veraison of Sangiovese was completed in early September, and the persistent absence of rain in September and October in the Val di Greve combined though with an optimal thermal excursion between day and night favored a rather balanced maturation even if slowed down by the drought. Our harvest began on 23 August with the harvest of Sangiovese grapes to produce our sparkling Mauvais Chapon and ended for the red grapes on 6 October with the last Sangiovese vineyard and on 26 October for the white grapes with the Tor Solis vineyard located at 720 meters above sea level. Thanks to a meticulous and painstaking selection in the vineyard we were able to eliminate almost all the grapes dried out by the August sun. Musts, in fact, are generally characterized by a fairly high sugar content, but lower than those of 2017, and by a nice freshness, a non-trivial element to obtain and maintain in a vintage like this.”

Related – Chianti Classico is the future

The highlight of the Chianti Classico Collection took place at the for the premier screening of La Leggenda del Gallo Nero, “The legend of the Black Rooster.” Al canto del gallo, corri veloce cavaliere. Domani la guerra sarà finita e il vino abbonderà nei calici. Avete già visto il nostro film sulla storia del Gallo Nero? Vi sveliamo la leggenda! “At the crowing of the rooster, run fast knight. Tomorrow the war will be over and the wine will abound in the glasses” Have you already seen our film on the history of the Black Rooster? We reveal the legend to you!”

Click on the link to watch the film “La Leggenda del Gallo Nero” then scroll down for 245 tasting notes for wines tasted in February 2023 at the Chianti Classico Collection and visits with estates.

Godello’s 25 top wines from the Chianti Classico Collection

Annata

Castell’in Villa Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, Castelnuovo Berardenga

Leave to Castell’in Villa to do not just the right thing but carry the weight of necessity and hold back Annata to a point where it can be tasted and assessed with the respect it so richly deserves. Though this Castelnuovo Berardenga estate and their historic vineyards are equipped to create magic in the most challenging of vintages, well when a season like 2019 is gifted then the magic turns to the supernatural. Fruit is everything, as it must be and the aspects of climate, fermentation, maturation and all the accruements of seasoning add up to a speciality as no other Chianti Classico will create. This is a very special vintage of Castell’in Villa and one to rival any Riserva or Gran Selezione made in this vintage. Will live in infamy. Drink 2025-2038.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Monterinaldi Chianti Classico DOCG Vigneto Boscone 2019, Radda

The single vineyard sangiovese never touches wood, only concrete, in fermentation and also aging. It is the highest expression of Monterinaldi and so it will always be a cru Classico. If a Gran Selezione were to be made in the future it would be a different or rather a new label. This is not yet in bottle though it is a finished wine, so despite its anteprima positioning the wine can be assessed, for the most part at least. Thirty-one year old block at this stage, heavy in Alberese, 3.5 tonnes per hectare in yield, intensity and tension at the fore of what this wine just is. That said the 40 days of skin contact makes for beauty up front no matter the structure afforded. “Cimento” aging means captured freshness and there is truly no thought of either tannin or spice not arriving to set this sangiovese up for a long life ahead. This will be special. Drink 2025-2034.  Tasted February 2023

Fattoria Cigliano Di Sopra Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, San Casciano

Behold yet another precocious and shockingly generous Annata from the team of Matteo and Maddalena at Cigliano di Sopra. That and an intensity of things intangible despite the very tangible, credible and knowable parts of this wine. So very singular and stand alone for San Casciano and yet a style but more so a way of being that just feels like the future. Too young to really know but it seems like this duo has learned how to keep their ferments from flying away and also from getting away. The professionals are in the house. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Fontodi Chianti Classico DOCG Filetta Di Lamole 2020, Lamole

Filetta di Lamole does not hold back or skimp on the perfume and is at once a consistent wine connected to the vintages that have come before. Would not express 2020 as a sangiovese that stands up too be counted but more so one that speaks in calmer, gentler and more hushed tones. Yet the fine swarthiness is always present and it works to characterize Filetta in ways that Panzano from Fontodi does not seem to do. More low and slow personality from 2020 and longevity will likely become its middle name. Drink 2024-2031.  Tasted February 2023

Isole E Olena Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, San Donato In Poggio

All the schist-bled, favourable exposure gratified and experiential positioning has conspired to raise spirits for the season from Isole e Olena’s standard bearing and load carrying Annata. Hard to find a more exacting example for the cuvée style in which a few varieties in higher percentages than the increasing norm are gathered for what a Chianti Classico can and to be frank, should be. The most sapidity is expressed by way of a Paolo de Marchi Classico and few roll off the tongue like an Isole. As good as it gets for 2020. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Monte Bernardi Chianti Classico DOCG Retromarcia 2021, Panzano

Retromarcia from Michael Schmelzer is as pure and unadulterated a sangiovese as he has ever made, in fact it resides at the top of the heap in terms of such clarity for any in the territory. That includes his smack dab in the middle of Panzano location and my if he did not figure it all out with this 2021. Well, relatively speaking of course as compared to what came before and things surely changed again the next time he laid his winemaking hands on that recent 2022 fruit. This sheds the trials and tribulations of statism, but more importantly the experiments and errors of stalky, chalky and swarthy. Avoids the potential for cumbersome 2021 by expressing the simplicity of beautifully clean and stay at home fruit. Drink away. Grande Michele! Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Podere Poggio Scalette Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Greve

It takes but a second to recognize the Chianti Classico excellence in this 2021 from Jurji Fiore and his Poggio Scalette from Greve’s Ruffoli hill. The levels are all high, mighty and intense in a wine with acids and fruit so inclining but you will not find a finer example of white limestone soil scintillant than what is wildly expressed from this wine. An Annata of major importance, educational and something from which to understand what happens in specific places of this complex territory. My, oh my. Drink 2025-2034.  Tasted February 2023

San Giusto A Rentennano Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Gaiole

Extreme youth for a Fattoria San Giusto a Rentennano Annata and while this is a barrel sample truth is Luca Martini di Cigala’s offers up more fodder for assessment than many. This will be a most important vintage for two reasons. The first is quality and the second a matter of education, a view to master interpreter taking water (of Gaiole) and transforming it into wine. Not just Gaiole but a little peninsula between the arms of Vagiagli and Castelnuovo Berardenga on a promontory specific to San Giusto. Fine lines, angles and waves continually sweeping make this a most impressive Annata and one to savour for the next 15 years. Drink 2025-2035.  Tasted February 2023

Villa Di Geggiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, Castelnuovo Berardenga

Geggiano must have time in a bottle, “ticking the moments that make up a dull day,” to come away later on, expressive of the Alberese soil (mainly) and deliver what has to be this place. Castelnuovo Berardenga that is and yet this valley with its ridges to the east and west is like no other place because winds, rain, sun and air flow differently, acting upon pure sangiovese to create wines like this. What this is exactly can’t be precisely said but this 2019 is the irrepressible essence indivisible to the history of the past. Also the present, right here in this glass, prescient, pure, persistent and built to last. Sangiovese from Geggiano is the future. Drink 2025-2033.  Tasted February 2023

Mocenni, Bindi Sergardi, Vagliagli

Riserva

Bindi Sergardi Chianti Classico Riserva Calidonia DOCG 2019, Vagliagli

Calidonia, Calidnoia, my what a beautiful wine you have become, with three-plus years got behind your acids are softening and tannins fleshing, above and beyond their original anhydrous moments. Calidonia from the Casini/Bindi-Sergardi clan is purely Vagliagli and a 100 per cent sangiovese expressive of vineyards where Galestro and Alberese each impact upon vines. This is Riserva my dear readers. This is Riserva, from Vagliagli’s Craigie Dhu, a.k.a. Mocenni. “Oh, but let me tell you that I love you. That I think about you all the time, (Caledonia) you’re calling me and now I’m going home.” Drink 2023-2033.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020, Radda

Here the textbook is written on producing Riserva from 100 per cent sangiovese out of vintage as humid as they will come. Done so by making the most of vineyards at elevation in a cool location, that being Radda and selecting top level phenolic berries worthy of this place on the Chianti Classic pyramid. A sangiovese that slides and glides both across the palate and through the stages of its presentation. Seamless and teachable. Learn Riserva 101 right here. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Gagliole Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, Panzano

Like the Classico this is all sangiovese but in Riserva the fruit is only Panzano and the selection is the second choice of the ripest and tops of the harvest, but also the quality of tannins involved. Mainly from the vineyard beyond the terraces and a couple of blocks purchased from Le Cincole. This is pietraforte territory along the ridge above the Conca d’Oro that falls to the southeast, finishing at the vineyard where Fontodi’s Flaccianello is made. Harvested late, into October and the soil makes a requiem for Riserva quite square in style, with high acidity and lower pH. Savoury as well but in an herbal liqueur way, like a steep of sage, fennel and rosemary, anti-amaro if you will and structured though not the kind of sangiovese that jolts or rocks your palate. The sub-structure, positioning and stature are all impressive.  Last tasted February 2023

Nothing scents like a Gagliole and nowhere in Chianti Classico does this sense of fruit compaction, timed and tidy acidity and then fineness of sweet, evolved and intelligent tannins co-exist. Herbal yet delicately so, dripping and oozing of terroir, spice infiltrate of every zone, pocket and pore. Not sure there can be recalled a Riserva with this much personality and oomph but here it is in all glory. Also not sure there has been an example that needs as much aging time as this generously structure ’19. Don’t touch and return five years forward. Drink 2026-2033.  Tasted March 2022

I Fabbri Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, Lamole

Riserva from Susanna Grassi’s I Fabbri reaches the phenolic height of heights from a vintage of few peers. While 2015 and 2016 were surely apex seasons there may be an argument made in seeing 2019 as exceeding the ripeness of those very good years. The Lamole herbology in perfume will not be denied and yet there are berries and red stone fruit not nosed before, to mix with the citrus and sweet roasted nightshades. This is next level Riserva, all senses piqued and finding moments from which sweet, sour, salty and umami all manage to coalesce. Will be somewhat past prime and yet I am looking forward to tasting this is 2035. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Istine Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Levigne 2019

Levigne is Angela Fronti’s way of conjoining Radda and Gaiole, of stacking the variegate fruit of Istine, Casanova dell’Aia and Cavarchione, to create a Riserva layering, circuitous and in beautiful swirl. Swagger too, some attitude and grip that speaks to Alberese, Raddese acidity, Gaiole savour and the exuberance of La Fronti. How can you know, intuit and also feel the emotion of the vineyards, the passion of the maker and the near perfect pitch off the various gatherings of fruit? You can because they are as one. Not Gran Selezione because it’s a selection from several places but for all intents and purposes, not to mention quality, it may as well be. Drink 2024-2033.  Tasted February 2023

La Montanina Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020, Gaiole

My what a lovely Riserva! Fruit succulent and sweet and swirled so effortlessly into equally mouthwatering acidity of pitch perfect tone. Yes there is Gaiole savour and it’s presence is as a seasoning, with chef’s ability, emotion and touch. As for 2020 well this from La Montanina delves into passion and the aforementioned emozione as well and as much as any Riserva in the Classico area. Brava, Oretta Leonini. Grande Gaiole! Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Fattoria Pomona Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Bandini 2019, Castellina

Bandini are bandits and yet some might define the Italian word as “the quality of being impenetrable, maculation or imperviousness.” Monica Raspi’s 2019 is anything but and its tannins do nothing of the sort but they are proper. Riserva is possessive of the most clarity and precision, not to mention grace in the cleanest sangiovese of them all, reeling in and through the years. Lovely swirl of berries and essential oils, elements and vitamins, bled from stone, beauty everywhere. “People can you feel it, love is everywhere.” Drink 2023-2030.  Tasted February 2023

Gran Selezione

Carpineta Fontalpino is located in Castelnuovo Berardenga but their Dofana cru is a matter of Vagliagli, sibling UGA within the two-winged commune. Vigna Dofana, special place for the Cresti family, deliverer of Vagliagli as only this place can within the most complex and also yet fully understood UGA. Dofana now graduated or better said migrated to Gran Selezione as a subtle, shadowy sangiovese, like chiaroscuro where fruit and acid are light and also dark, yet with time one will become the other. The constant is Dofana and yet now the label speaks in territorial terms, appellative as Gran Selezione, something new and accepted by Cresti siblings Gioia and Filippo. Benvenuto ragazzi. We look forward to discussing this 10-15 years down the road. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Monsanto Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Vigneto Il Poggio 2018, San Donato in Poggio

There can be little doubt that Gran Selezione is the wine to explain style from a place within a place, that being Monsanto’s Il Poggio Vineyard inside the UGA of San Donato In Poggio. Il Poggio is four things; famous, respected, stunning and structured to design formidably age-worthy sangiovese. Stylistically speaking this Gran Selezione is so very different than Riserva because older-school austerity and unrelenting tannic structure keep fruit locked in tight while also interpreting place with pinpoint precision. But 2018 is a warm and accumulating vintage and so all things being equal there are strong determining factors for the fate of this place. Highly aromatic, tripping with light, energy and the science of the soils, of Galestro and schisty fragments that must be a part of the make up, from stones through vines and vines to fruit. This Monsanto Selezione smells like the place’s dust kicked up by heels and hands dragged through the dirt. With 2018 in bottle there could be an argument that San Donato in Poggio’s are some of the richest of all the UGAs, but this is Monsanto where destiny is all. Drink 2025-2037.  Tasted February 2023

Conti Capponi/Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG La Fornace 2019, Montefioralle

Incredibly youthful for a Gran Selezione and “the furnace” will surely always ensure to wrap a sangiovese tight, keep it from gregariously expressing itself when this young. The tannins are lined up in a long and unbreakable chain, the fruit set in a well below, textural juice not yet scooped and heaped upon the palate. This structure like karst from bedrock plus acids in skein formation hold flesh not yet put meat on these bones. These parts are all there above sangiovese lying patiently and resting in waiting. La Fornace is recited in refrain after verse after refrain with so many stanzas to come, chanted in canto over time and across decades ahead. Drink 2026-2037.  Tasted February 2023

Il Molino Di Grace Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Il Margone 2019, Panzano

Comparisons and contrast are considered side by side with 2020 and so as with Riserva there is a marked difference with 2019 Il Margone. That said I find more consistency with the following 2020 then was noted between the two vintages at both the Classico and Riserva levels. Here a darker and more concentrated fruit set stays true to the Gran Selezione appellation but also with respect to elevated acidity and fineness of tannin. Yes 2019 is a more “elegant” vintage but at this level the intensity, polish and game are all set to impressive levels. The structure is finer and less rustic in 2020 and so one vintage’s loss is another’s gain, and vice versa. Choosing one over the other is splitting hairs, like picking a favourite child. Can’t go there. Drink 2025-2031.  Tasted February 2023

Il Poggiolino Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Le Balze 2019, San Donato In Poggio

Le Balze (formerly Toscana IGT) is a finely composed and structured Gran Selezione from San Donato in Poggio yet is apposite to so many from the UGA, stylistically speaking. More of a blue to even purple fruit profile, nearly blueberry and what strikes so poignant about this 100 percent sangiovese is its level of calm, poise and even restraint. It never crashes in waves, nor makes any threatening tannic demands, but does its work in subtleties, through seamless transitions and ultimately with precision and focus. Very impressive. Drink 2025-2036.  Tasted February 2023

Isole Delle Falcole Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2019, Panzano

The project of Emanuele Greatz, exporter of Roberto Voerzio, Il Molino di Grace, San Fillipo (Roberto Gianelli) and Barbaresco’s Russo. This is the early fruition of Emanuele’s dream, renting Panzano land in 2016 to eventually purchase and a first vintage in 2017. The land is officially Emanuele’s now. The name of the Conca or amphitheatre actually shares an affinity with the Conca d’oro, in shape, orientation and yet there is much more forest and also higher elevation. Total of four hectares planted, 1.2 up on the hill facing south at 420m and roughly two below the house, both set in Montefioralle. The final 0.8 for the Gran Selezione is in Panzano right next to Montefili and so Graetz calls it Montefili – internally.” It will be called Il Falcole. Gran Selezione 2019 is solo sangiovese sent to 30 months in big barrel combination of French and Slavonian. Purely Panzano through a Selezione of a pinpointed place and to be honest the fruit is a bit deeper and darker than many Panzano ‘19s. That said there are layers and layers to unfold, unfurl and open with high acidity from the high elevation vineyard up at 520m. Where else is Panzano (other than Montefili and Cenattoio) will express this elevation in this wild-eyed and excitable way? A harbinger of the future and initialization of the realization of Emanuele’s dream is in this glass, from this bottle. Wait three years to understand just a bit more and figure things out for 10 more thereafter. Drink 2026-2034.  Tasted February 2023

Le Fonti Di Panzano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2019, Panzano

As always at this appellative level Le Fonti’s is 100 percent sangioivese and as with Annata but also Riserva the house style chooses fruit over wood and seasoning over toast. The warm vintage finished with late season daytime highs juxtaposed against nighttime lows and this Gran Selezione emerged with glaring clarity, instrumental precision and parts on point. From fruit through structure round fits into round and square into square, nothing awkward, sharp or out of place. An aromatic sangiovese while the palate is an experience and a half. Selezione ’18 is a prepared one, to withstand oxidation and develop supplementary character so that it may age well into the next decade. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Rocca Di Montegrossi Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Vigneto San Marcellino 2018, Gaiole

The next San Marcellino Gran Selezione is a big one, strong willed and big-boned, laced with trace schisty-marl-Galestro elements and minerals from a vineyard capable of structuring wines like no other. This is Monti in Chianti, of all the red, blue and black fruits, coming away violet purple and speaking about a season. A warm one, all the way through to October and the phenolic ripeness here is off the proverbial charts. Wow. Drink 2025-2037.  Tasted February 2023

The AIS Sommeliers of the Chianti Classico Collection

Acquadiaccia Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, Panzano

A blend of 90 percent sangiovese and (10) canaiolo of a purity that is Panzano incarnate, straight away. Glycerin in stride, chalky tannin liquified and just the faintest hit of green astringency. So close to acceding the beauty of idealism yet still a really lovely wine in almost all regards. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Antinori Gran Selezione Chianti Classico DOCG Badia A Passignano 2020, San Donato in Poggio

Classic dried herbs and brushy Badia a Paassignano style, here with the accessibility of 2020 though the fruit is pure red cherry with almost no darkening moments. Cool, almost minted with a creosote and cooling coals warmth through the chill of the air. This Gran Selezione is imagined as a perfect meditation in late fall, in a cabin in the woods, by a fire, dimly lit room and silence. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Marchese Antinori 2020, San Donato In Poggio

Precisely what must be expected and frankly demanded from Antinori’s San Donato in Poggio Riserva and that would be a perfectly executed cuvée of sangiovese complimented by varieties that speak to exactly that. Glycerol and viscosity in a silken thread sewing fruit with the kind of acidity and tannin of the utmost professional kind. Nothing out of place and the window has officially opened. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Arillo In Terrabianca Chianti Classico DOCG Sacello 2021, Radda

Intense sangiovese while also drying and tannic with potential to travel far and yet this is certainly not the early beauty of what came from 2020. More so a sangiovese of classicism that must have some time in the bottle before we know what will come. Great length here so there will be a future, that much is guaranteed. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Badia A Coltibuono Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Gaiole

As per the Stucchi-Prinetti plan (which arguably dates back to 1846), the Classico is consistent through the vintages and what feels like epochs as well. There is this swell of sangiovese fruit made complex and curious by what Badia a Coltibuono marks as 10 percent other grape varieties, each making a statement in multifarious manifesto. Searing Annata, part strike and part pierce through the red chalky-cherry originality of these Gaiole hills. There is more going on here than most and year after year this represents benchmark material for the UGA. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Badia A Coltibuono Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2018, Gaiole

A Riserva from Badia a Colibuono is pretty much a Selezione matter and yet, not so much. The emotion is there if not the pack mentality and so Riserva is just Coltibuono. Almost startling to begin with but that is simply the acidity of place talking, distracting and exacting its power over a field blend-like gathering of varieties led by sangiovese. Riserva acts on behalf of and in the ways of the abbey and surrounding vineyards, were they personified would surely speak. Like the paintings along the cloister corridors and the ocupants whose truths, history and tradition are what you need to hear. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted February 2023

Bertinga Chianti Classico DOCG La Porta Di Vertine 2020, Gaiole

As expected, lithe and here from Gaiole also verdant, influenced by UGA, commune and forest. A tart and also taut while pure sangiovese with some Alberese chalkiness in the tannins. Quite well made and supremely indicative of where it comes from. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Bibbiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Castellina

Still firm, grippy and liquid peppery, not in a reductive sense but the tannins (while sweet) are dusty as well. Classic Bibbiano, of two sides by soil and micro-climate, layered continuously upon and with one another, to create an always stylish and focused Annata. Really pure Sangiovese, as always, clean as it gets, tidy, orderly and succinct. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Bibbiano’s is at the forefront of youthfulness in that there is a closed aromatic launch and some reduction needing to blow off before the hounds of charm can be released. Head straight to the palate to be graced with the interspersions of texture and structure, first liquid Castellina chalky, then wound around the body of this wine. Sangiovese needs the bottle and with eyes closed those words of Tommaso Marrocchesi Marzi play in refrain over and over again. Be patient and kind to his wine and in turn you will be kindly rewarded. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted March 2022

Bindi Sergardi Chianti Classico DOCG La Ghirlanda 2020, Vagliagli

Everything about La Ghirlanda is Bindi Sergardi in Vagliagli as it always must be, natural fruit red and pure, transparent and through the looking glass of precision for family and location. Curious how there is some tannin here, fine grained structure and while the wine is very accessible there is no doubt it will live longer than many of its ilk. This is a very, very good Annata, luck and fortune all in. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Cantine Bonacchi Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Vagliagli

Basic and vintage relatable as 100 per cent sangiovese in rustic Vagliagli style. Not the most freshness in fruit, some salumi and certainly a way that is older schooled and recognizable. Tradition dies hard. Truly. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Borgo La Stella Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Radda

Fine example of combining place (Radda) with vintage and appellative level. This is an exacting 2020 as Annata with fine acidity and food-matching capability. Grippy as needs though never vivid, herbal yet not herbaceous. Well-balanced and ideal for three-plus years ahead. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Borgo Salcetino Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Radda

Quite cool, minty, brushy and herbal to represent Radda in the most clear and knowable way. The level of tannin here is notable, markedly elevated for 2020 Chianti Classico and it is apparent that Radda at heights did not ripen at a level much above seven or 7.5 on the scale of these things. Quite a searing example for the season. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Vagliagli

Perfectly round and normal, dictionary entry sangiovese with softness and intensity of hue, by colouring and merlot as a friend of sangiovese. Tart and just tight enough to hold on for a few years but for the most part this is meant to be consumed in the first two. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted February 2023

Brancaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2020, Radda

The Brancaia from Radda is expressly three things. First and foremost a matter of 2020, secondly Radda of temperament and more than anything a Gran Selezione to speak of the current epoch of Brancaia. As far as vintages are concerned these 2020s are a thing of great beauty and accessibility, with respect to UGA the acidity and cool mentality are at the height of heights and finally, the transparency and see through honesty is exemplary of the current Brancaia world order. Fine, fine Selezione, drinkable and cellar-able. Do as you please. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Brancaia Riserva Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Radda

A Riserva from Brancaia is Riserva in a nutshell, of startling professionalism and also emotion. The acidity of place begins in dissertation, leading sangiovese with 20 per cent merlot in the ways of vineyards translated through high execution to personify just what it means to be, act like and exist as Brancaia. Silky smooth, liquid chalky, finely chiseled and structured, able to age long. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Buondonno Chianti Classico DOCG Podere Casavecchia Alla Piazza 2021, Castellina

High glycerin, notable alcohol and structure as well. A big wine as always for Gabriele Buondonno for several reasons, namely elevation and solar radiation but also the intangible of conversion rates and things just being natural, the way they simply have to be. Some vintages are bigger and greater than others and for sangiovese in varietal purity this out of 2021 will equivocate with superior strength, balance and trenchant intensity. Count on it. Drink 2025-2031.  Tasted February 2023

Buondonno Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Casavecchia Alla Piazza 2020, Castellina

To taste and think upon Buondonno as Riserva from as recent a vintage as 2020 is to engage in an almost fruitless exercise. This because the level of fruit, acid and tannin in cohorts is so immovable that without time in the bottle it’s hard to gain any real traction. This from 2020 carries more weight and energy than so many, especially from this triad of a location where Castellina, Panzano and San Donato in Poggio nearly converge. Gabriele Buondonno’s is like a stacked ferment of grapes, place and vintage needing three years to flesh and release some charm. Three more to be in the zone. Drink 2025-2031.  Tasted February 2023

Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, Panzano

Always important for a sangiovese to act and project as Riserva when choices are made for fruit to be this way. Cafaggio’s is exactly that and this 2019 resides at the top of the echelon for Riserva made by this Panzano producer. The fruit is exceptional and the structure a fine matter of acid and tannin intertwine. Still some grippy matter to resolve so expect this to drink at peak in another 12-18 months. Aerate now for positive results. Drink 2025-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Cantalici Chianti Classico DOCG Baruffo 2020, Gaiole

A surprisingly tannic and overtly structured Annata from Cantalici out of 2020. From Gaiole and seems to bring more grip and drying herbal feels than most UGAs from this vintage. Not the quietest or most amenable sangiovese but one needing time and that speaks for place more anything else. Barrel as well which also needs more time in bottle to melt and settle. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Cantina Tuscania Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Effige Nera 2018, San Donato In Poggio

Unequivocal and unmistakable as being a sangiovese from San Donato in Poggio for one reason alone and that is the blood orange perfume so bloody (pun intended) typical of this westerly UGA. Here as Riserva and from 2018 with its purity of red fruit so citrus is origin, fine grained though now liquefying tannin and from a vintage picked in late September yet balanced in alcohol, and ripeness ahead of a strange 48-hour spell cast by temperatures running daytime high and nighttime low. Really fine Riserva in the window at this very moment but will stay this way for three to four years easy. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

At Caparsa with Paolo Cianferone, John Szabo MS and Mona Haugen-Kind

Caparsa Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, Radda

Different fermentations are involved, tank and especially concrete, very much a matter of Raddese acidity, fruit sharp and über cherry in linear sangiovese. Needs another year to soften just that much more though these are quite nurturing tannins and the wine does really choose to please. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Caparsa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Caparsino 2019, Radda

Aged in the big barrels, determined by a selection of higher quality berries and the cask size. How does Paolo know which are the best bunches? “I just know,” he says. “For more than 20 years I know where the best grapes live.” Might be where the cinghiale eat, where the clay is wet or not, in dry weather. More of a Riserva vintage for Caparso, added richness a bonus and without any wood distraction this glides and glistens, slices and dices across the palate. Solid sangiovese with a cerebral twist. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Caparsa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Caparsino 2018, Radda

Mature aromatics, chewy red fruit, all the leathery plum and liquorice that can be packed into a Chianti Classico Riserva. Developed to the drinking stage, earlier as a vintage than many, hot one mind you and showing that right now, and more. Some mineral and chalk to the structure but pretty much good to go. Drink 2023-2026.   Tasted February 2023

Caparsa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Caparsino 2017, Radda

A vintage with no Doccio Matteo made because the grape quality and also quantity was not up to Radda par. “The wine is a mirror of the land, the people and the weather, like a dog.” The grapes here are from both Riserva selections and so quality reaches above par as only one of two, our two in one were produced. Severe at its moments and yet there is much concentration and compact elements, especially chalk and tension in this grippy 2017. Wait on it – the acids are also there to act as the fruition reaching catalyst. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Caparsa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Caparsino 2010, Radda

Just 2,600 bottles were produced and only eight, well now seven remain of the vintage. “Some wines get you down, some make you talk a lot and some make you drunk. I want a wine that will make you think,“ explains Paolo Cianferoni. “In 2010 I lost 75 per cent of my production and I don’t know why but when I have a glass it makes me think. Maybe what was left on the vine received the love that was left.” A sip and left to think about things because not only is this sangiovese perfectly aged but it is right in the balanced zone. Also the mystery zone and places we’ve never been. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Caparsa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Doccio A Matteo 2019, Radda

Single vineyard sangiovese with just two percent of colorino raised in 1000L botti, 12-14 months, just like the Classico. Doccio Matteo is the name of an old spring in one of the oldest vineyards, highest in elevation (450m) where the winds blow hardest. “Doccio” is a shower in Italian and Matteo refers to San Matteo. More tannin and tension here, especially as compared to Riserva (Caparsino) and needing an extra year to integrate. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted February 2023

Caparsa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Doccio A Matteo 2018, Radda

Single vineyard sangiovese with just two percent of colorino raised in 1000L botti, 12-14 months, just like the Classico. Doccio Matteo is the name of an old spring in one of the oldest vineyards, highest in elevation (450m) where the winds blow hardest. “Doccio” is a shower in Italian and Matteo refers to San Matteo. Just as tannic and full of tension as per 2019 Doccio Matteo but also Chianti Classics Riserva and yet the ’18 Caparsino DOCG is beginning to fade. Not this former IGT with the potential to become Gran Selezione and which rages with energy plus drive. Let it ride. Come back in two years. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted February 2023

Caparsa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Doccio A Matteo 2016, Radda

The 2016 Doccio a Matteo is the first sangiovese (in this line-up) from Paolo Cianferoni that’s actually ready to drink, in fact it’s very much there with some drying tannin mixed with dried fruit happening. Full and caky wine, rich and substantial. Must have salty protein to show best and for the win.  Last tasted February 2023

A single-vineyard Riserva from the plot above the smaller second house called Caparsino and filled with all the soils; argile, Galestro and Alberese. Surely an absolute about face expression with higher volatility and a high, near and nigh potential for advancing porcini notes. A deeper and darker black cherry. Characterful and mature in such a different way, The acidity is uncompromising even while the wine acts oxidative with more wood than the other Riserva. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Caparsa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Doccio A Matteo 2015, Radda

A fresher and more spirited sangiovese as compared to 2016, energy still running full and yet you can drink this with the right amount of air. Chewy liquorice, some tar, iodine and soy. Chocolate, lots of the dark stuff. The wines showed more wood back in these vintages. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Caparsa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Doccio A Matteo 2012, Radda

Eleven years old, a vintage of high quantity which also means that the wine is a fatter and softer one. Fully resolved now and drinking with lovely grace and elegance.  Last tasted February 2023

Lovely bit of development from a vintage of great fortitude and possibility though seemingly only recently softened. Now smooth tannin and yet so, so very sangiovese. The red fruit carries a liquorice note not noted in later wines and here the complexities are blooming, changing and renewing their vows. Lovely look back and easy on the volatility scale. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted February 2020

Carpineta Fontalpino Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Castelnuovo Berardenga

Wow the energy from 2021 Carpineta Fontalpino is off the charts, ergo there is this wide open sensation from Castelnuovo Berardenga that will not be denied. Fruit swells and impresses with its gingered-crimson beauty and the advances of egress by structural demand. While too youthful and awkward for all parts to hook up they will, in time, for all the right reasons and with zero regret. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Carpineta Fontalpino Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Vigna Montaperto 2018, Castelnuovo Berardenga

Apposite to Dofana for Vagliagli is Montaperto of Castelnuovo Berardenga, the grippy, forceful and tannic one. The immovable and unbreakable sangiovese so very linear, gripped by strength, of skeletal structure and needing time. Give it. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Carpineto Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Greve

Perfectly reasoned, seasoned and fine dusted Annata here from Carpineto, consistently contrived from year to year with 2021 being no exception to the rule. Good fruit and loins, strong bones, robust and trim. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Carpineto Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2020, Greve

There is nothing about this Gran Selezione that is not Carpineto and so kudos to the Greve estate for unyielding consistency, no matter the time or place. In fact this also represents a look through the mirror of a vintage, never overbearing or overpowering and just a snapshot of cool, herbal and brushy, like taking a long walk though a dry forest, air crisp with fresh air. The 2020 GS has matured some already so drink this while some others work through their issues. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Casa Di Monte Chianti Classico DOCG Le Capitozze 2019, San Casciano

There will never be denying the savoury elements and earthy nature of a sangiovese from San Casciano and Le Capitozze by Casa di Monte is not the exception. The acids in this 2019 Annata are quite incredible and there is plenty of fruit, red and ropey fruit to stand with the tart and tight wind that constitutes true style. Crunchy Annata with spirit and energy, a charcoal, tar and candied rose compliment, seasoning and all that can make a Chianti Classico thrive. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted February 2023

Casa Di Monte Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Le Capitozze 2017, San Casciano

A few years have seen this Riserva travel forward and the source is a hot, dry and exceptional vintage. And still a great freshness persists even if the sangiovese is ready to be enjoyed. The tannins are more than half resolved and their work in progress is just what the fruit requests but also deserves. This is nothing if not a lovely and joyous swell of Riserva, aged with ideal practice and wood execution, nearly come to fruition, always in maintenance of balance. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Casa Emma Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, San Donato In Poggio

The 2021s are being shown because many will indeed soon be released yet examples like this from Casa Emma are way too young and unresolved to really speak the language of its ancestry. But my what hides behind the curtain is so real, vivid to the point of acting out a passion play of psychological sangiovese thriller. An Annata with canaiolo and malvasia that twists and winds, sidles and turns through the sangiovese to aerate and intensify. All this said there are years needed to coordinate and allow Casa Emma to become the wine it wants to be. Even at Annata level. Always at Annata level. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted February 2023

Casa Emma Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Vignalparco 2019, San Donato In Poggio

Great depth noted straight away but then back to reality because perfume rising draws the aromatics and extends them stratospheric. This is exceptionally gifted as it pertains to perfume, violets nearly and most certainly roses. A sangiovese that might make a sort of taster to think nebbiolo were this tasted blind, though one so modern as to make a heart ache. Then a natural sweetness, wood abided and elasticized with texture and then spice. Much gastronomy here and with a few years melt the ooze will become amenable to match with complex preparations. Seeing this on a restaurant list. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Chianti Classico Collection Design

Casale Dello Sparviero Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Castellina

One of the few (of maybe a dozen) producers using pugnitello to augment sangiovese and here the five percent matters for the Annata from Casale dello Sparviero. Helps to distract from the barrel but then it seems the overall sentiment is wood and seasoning because the aridity is truly felt at all points on the palate. Needs time and yet the fruit will struggle to survive. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Casaloste Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, Panzano

A little bit (10 per cent) of merlot goes along way to soften and textualize sangiovese with 2019 as the main catalyst for a high quality Annata by Casaloste. Big wine to be sure, fruit driven, structured with great demand and acids sweeter than many. There is quite a wealth of character happening in this wine just getting started on its long journey ahead. Has markedly improved in the past year.  Last tasted February 2023

Notable ripe fruit and also a verdant austerity makes for a wine of two positions, angles and disparate emotions. A sangiovese of floral and also avian display while in delivery of liquorice and bitter herbs. Almost Riserva in style, glycerol and concentration at the fore, the rest waiting in the wings. Needs time. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2022

Casina di Cornia Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, Castellina

Plain and simple this is Castellina in Chianti yet one climbing the tight and structured hill though not the ripest of sangiovese ever developed. That said this is 2019 fruit and it’s about as phenolic driven as there has ever been. Really drying, brushy and most intense. Glaring and demanding. Drink 2023-2025.   Tasted February 2023

Castagnoli Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Castellina

High octane red fruit with a decidedly higher acid drive puts this sangiovese in fine speed with trailing vaporous emission. Very young and this vintage of 2021 seems to need more time than most any looking back just about a decade of time. Yes a good deal will be released to the markets this year but it has been a while since needing time in bottle is more important than this particular vintage. Great length here on Castagnoli’s 2021 to speak of greater things yet to come. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted February 2023

Castellare Di Castellina Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Castellina

A wealth of cherry red fruit in the classic idiom and quite frankly a Chianti Classico 2021 Annata more forward than most from the structured vintage. Solid bones though fruit is most up front and herbals season the wine with sweetness, Different set of circumstances for the wood in how it’s noted to be drying out at the finish. Solid effort for this Castellina house. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted February 2023

Castelli Del Grevepesa Castelgreve Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, San Casciano

Clearly too young to fully know the ultimate direction but there is some blood orange set against a dried herb backdrop in an Annata of clear and present San Casciano character. This is in fact the cooperative of Castelli del Grevepesa’s less sizeable cuvée and one with more singular character and sense of place. Very well made that shows the potential of 2021. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Castelli Del Grevepesa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Clemente VII 2019, San Casciano

Firm and grippy Riserva for 2019 and a Clemente VII speciality from sources drawn, blended and made whole. Professional sangiovese to a great degree, silky smooth and ready for food. Acids are just as sweet and tannins just a bit brittle. Ever so slightly and yet the wine finishes with an upwards lilt and twirl. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Podere Castellinuzza Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Lamole

A firm and herbal sangiovese with splashes of canaiolo and malvasia nera for extra seasoning, texture and most of all sapidity. This is Lamole in a nutshell, of those herbs with cereals, nuts and a textural feeling in lieu of acidity or rather in compliment to what structure demands. Lovely 2020, accessible yet grippy enough to mean business.  Last tasted February 2023

Big but not dense and for Lamole a heady sangiovese from the not so magnanimous Chianti Classico vintage. More than anything it is essential and encouraged to concentrate on the floral aspects of this wine, perfumed to the hilt with that Lamole commodity. Like all the bushy herbs in bloom, of purples and pinks, scenting the air at dusk even if one fails to brush on by. Lovely texture in 2020, mildly glycerol and giving the impression of almost gelid but surely sweet sangiovese fruit. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted March 2022

Castellinuzza E Piuca Di Coccia Giuliano Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Lamole

At five per cent it is canaiolo that lowers the Lamole acidity just enough to introduce sapidity and make this 2020 Annata drink with some proper scorrevole. Challenging vintage for this label, tight and racy even, definitely Lamole of origin and heeded in design. Will develop porcini and tartufo when it hits next age business three or four years on. Drink 2024-2027. Tasted February 2023

Castello Della Paneretta Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, San Donato In Poggio

How could we not intuit this as being a sangiovese from San Donato in Poggio? The signs are obvious from the start, blood orange and tart acidity but also a canaiolo influenced sapidity that aids in weights and balances for a 2020 Annata that benefits from such cuvée styling. The colouring too, for tradition and classicism. A touch of weight at the finish and a slight botanical tonic to add complexity if also minute astringency. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Albola Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2021, Radda

Quite a pure red cherry fruit and simply structured Albola with early accessibility from a vintage much restricted in such matters. This is clearly designed to be purchased and cracked with haste to seek immediate gratification. Simple and proud. Well made. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Ama Ama Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Gaiole

Ama by (Castello di) Ama is a richly textured and high glycerol Annata with all the wealth and generosity from the vintage captured, pressed and patented for a stamp of quality and guarantee of success. Crunchy red fruit and limestone strike, not quite high-toned but rising and ethereal as far as Classico is concerned. So well made and a harbinger for Gaiole within the greater territory for 2021. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Ama Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Montebuoni 2019, Gaiole

Quite the aromatic lift and high-toned entry for a 2019 Riserva that must be pushing generosity of ripeness and also alcohol. Warm and floral, viscous and layered. High octane flavour profile, generous of juicy red berry fruit and also barrel. Quite classic in a modern vernacular for a sangiovese (with five per cent merlot) that has come to pass and be recognized for more than two-plus decades now.  Last tasted February 2023

“Direct descendant of Castello di Ama Riserva in a return to the appellation with this being the second such vintage. Falling somewhere between the Ama Annata and San Lorenzo Gran Selezione, Ama’s Montebuomi is so very Calcari, regardless of the level of appellation, intensely woven, idealized and structured. Such mineral virtuosity at the Riserva level captured however, linear, vertical and compact. A compression exists by dint of those vineyard soils and also the living and breathing Gaiole terroir. Drying for now, fleshing to come, settling in later. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted March 2022

Castello di Ama Chianti Classico DOCG Vigneto San Lorenzo 1990, Gaiole

A grand old sangiovese from Ama, likely made by Lorenza Sebasti’s father and predating the winemaking work of Marco Pallanti. A wine twenty years before it would become one of the territory’s first Gran Selezione and an original Chianti Classico cru. Feels like some merlot mixed into this 33 year-old, or not but softness is a virtue. More truffle than porcini, creamy and holding well. Acids are indelibly stamped while tannins have all but disappeared. Beautiful old soul with a chocolate finish to reminisce about the wood involved. Good showing. Drink 2023-2024.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Bossi Chianti Classico DOCG C. Berardenga 2020, Castelnuovo Berardenga

Amazing purity of naturally sweet fruit and surely the priority in Bossi’s Annata 2020. If beautiful and amenable sangiovese straight out of the shoot is what you wish to drink then Bossi’s of clear and present Castelnuovo Berardenga account is just perfect. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Bossi Berardo Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, Castelnuovo Berardenga

Pure, clear and transparent purity of sangiovese, exquisite by fruit and in construction, well structured to hold back the years and make us understand the best is yet to come. Crisp, fresh and crunchy now, surely to become chewy later, with braised fennel and liquorice, tar and roses. The professionalism and intent are noted with palpable concern, the wine clearly destined to show well five-plus years down the line. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Castello di Cacchiano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, Gaiole

Castello di Cacchiano’s wines are made by Federico Cerelli, he of Gabbiano and Poggio di Guardia (of amongst other estates of reputation) and this Riserva speaks to a Monti in Chianti (within Gaiole) location. A pure example indeed, viscous and high in acid retention but also a blue to grey Galestro soil. A tad dusty yet plenty juicy and very much a traditional style of Riserva in stylishly retro clothing. Not old school, just classic. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Castello di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2020, Castellina

Castello di Fonterutoli’s 2020 is Gran Selezione like looking in the Castellina mirror because the purity of red, red, red fruit is the crux and at the core of what this wine wants to say. Hyper indicative of the vintage, clear and transparent, never too weighty or adamant and Fonterutoli puts everything in its rightful place. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti Classico DOCG Cavaliere d’Oro 2020, San Casciano

Big production and from 2020 a sizeable wine for Gabbiano’s San Casciano Annata though do not be afraid to aerate and get at it in this calendar year. The fruit is up front even while some wood seasoning persists and assists in creating a classic sangiovese effect. Concrete helps to keep the freshness. Good linger so this 2020 will drink well for a few years to come. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, San Casciano

High glycerol, as per the vintage no doubt and a bleed from chalky Galestro with a nod to Pietraforte for Riserva of suave style and chic demeanour. The professionalism and faux fructose-pectin texture is like pure berry cream, without lactic or milky feels. Modern and so stylish. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Meleto Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Gaiole

Very curious 2021 from Castello di Meleto, almost a sticky effect, like a savoury hard candy dissolving on the palate to reveal new character with each melting moment. Textural sangiovese with five percent merlot, one that works through aeration and on the palate then instigates the mind to imagine many developing possibilities. Sweet acids and tannins too, wanting to integrate but the wine is far too young to involve such foolery. Be patient, it’s sangiovese. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, San Donato In Poggio

One of the more famous, unwaveringly consistent and highest of quality to quantity ratios just has to be this from Monsanto in San Donato in Poggio. Five per cent each canaiolo and colorino complete the endemic local blend, in sapid swings and also hue, also in good humour with just enough tension involved to keep things so very real. Despite the generosity this is a pretty tightly wound Riserva from Laura Bianchi and one to cellar with the best of a long, winding and storied history of producing some of the territory’s most structured wines. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio DOCG 1970, San Donato In Poggio

Talk about an OG. One of the few Classico (Riserva) truly deserving of a place in that category as it pertains to cru identified vineyards. From 1970 there is perhaps less lingering fantasy and age-worthy decades long penetration but truth is only Monsanto and a handful of others can make a wine drink with status (and also grace) 52 years into its tenure. The ’68 and ’69 tasted in 2018 and 2022 respectively were better representations of the storied block and this ’70 emits a nutty and sharp pecorino cheese note, but also fennel and caramel for an overall umami arrangement. San Donato in Poggio umami of another era, sweetly savoury, inviting and subtly sour. Truly fascinating sangiogsee.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Monterinaldi Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Radda

The 2020 Classico is currently on the market while the soon to be bottled ’21 shows as an anteprima though that vintage, as firm and grippy as it may be will entice and delight sooner than most. In fact the 2020 is in nearly the same kind of place and so this tells us that. Monterinaldi’s position in Radda and microclimate produce wines like no other. Their wines move like the turtle, aging low and slow, even if they showed up ready and willing from the start. For Monterinaldi there was no hydric stress and the growing season delivered a consistent and constant five month phenolic development. This was a 35-40 day skin-contract maturation without worrying about extracting green tannins. Only six to seven months of aging in wood and this all adds up to doing things differently than many neighbours and other UGA positioned estates.  Last tasted February 2023

No other 2020 seems to scent like this from Monterinaldi and so it is more than worth commenting on the sense of place that is their southwestern Radda location. Herbal and dried flower potpourri but also something unknowable, intangible, even mysterious. Yes there is some early reduction but it can’t suppress the open-air meets underbrush perfume. Equanimity between maceration and fermentation makes this a candidate for top mid-term aging Annata, in other words begin drinking soon and make great use for three to four years thereafter. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted March 2022

Castello Monterinaldi Chianti Classico DOCG Vigneto Boscone 2019, Radda

The single vineyard sangiovese never touches wood, only concrete, in fermentation and also aging. It is the highest expression of Monterinaldi and so it will always be a cru Classico. If a Gran Selezione were to be made in the future it would be a different or rather a new label. This is not yet in bottle though it is a finished wine, so despite its anteprima positioning the wine can be assessed, for the most part at least. Thirty-one year old block at this stage, heavy in Alberese, 3.5 tonnes per hectare in yield, intensity and tension at the fore of what this wine just is. That said the 40 days of skin contact makes for beauty up front no matter the structure afforded. Cimento aging means captured freshness and there is truly no thought of either tannin or spice not arriving to set this sangiovese up for a long life ahead. This will be special. Drink 2025-2034.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Monterinaldi Chianti Classico DOCG Vigneto Boscone 2018, Radda

The 1988 planted vineyard at more than 450m on most excellent Alberese soils is the signature, Classico or whatever other appellate label you would wish to put upon it. Boscone knows what it must be and a long maceration (40 some odd days) plus only cement fermentation/aging makes sure to create a sangiovese of finesse and zero distraction. Nothing external, no wood to cake on any make-up, a wine as naked as the grapes were hanging on the vines. Higher acidity, yet another apposite occurrence in spite of the hot vintage because this place cools when necessary to gift saltiness and also sapidity, equal and opposite, also with thanks to the age of the vines. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Monterinaldi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020, Radda

For Monterinaldi Riserva resides between Classico and Classico Vigneto Boscone and picking happens between the two, though Boscone is an entity all on its own. This fruit usually comes from middle elevation. Riserva sees Botti and it’s just so obvious because there is more texture and compaction, not necessarily concentration but certainly tight grained layering because of the use of wood. So curious that even with wood this feels less barrel affected than most so Riserva. Monterinaldi’s is still a fresh and sapid sangioivese. Crunchiest Riserva in the territory, bar none. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Monterinaldi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, Radda

The time in 30 hL French cask is approximately 30 months and it must be said again that Riserva by Monterinaldi is the crunchiest of the area, far and wide, crisp and fresh, so clear and finessed. There is more concentration form 2019 to be sure and also fair because the purity but also longevity is just a perfect guarantee. As good as 2020 is as Riserva there can be no denying the next level success that this prime vintage brings to the table. And yet cooler vintages are usually long-lived ones – but at Monterinaldi they all are. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted February 2023

As far as 2021s are concerned there is great youth and an unrelenting wall of structure in this sangiovse (with eight percent canaiolo) from Dudda Valley in northeast Greve. Too much wood noticed at this early stage and so the tart, tight and sapid red fruit is held in tight, closed and yet to sweeten, flesh out or fatten for that matter. Wait at least 18 months more. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, Greve

Mainly sangiovese with eight per cent canaiolo to keep a proper level of pH and therefore sapidity with no rapid or hasteful maturation from 2020 Dudda Valley. Moderate alcohol, scents of salumi skin and roasted nightshades, viscous mouthfeel in a generous wine from Greve without gratuity and surely never taken for granted. Quantity is high for the vintage and appellation for a very promising wine. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Radda Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Il Corno DOCG 2017, Radda

Though six years old there is still a wall of structure for Castello di Radda and a single vineyard Gran Selezione that’s far from showing its best and releasing the charm. Dries at the finish but when the wood and tannin subside that sensation should release. Two more years it would seem. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Selvole Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, Vagliagli

Quite resinous, herbal, tart, tannic and full of tension. A challenging wine that should have softened by now. Wait another year and see what happens. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted February 2023

At Castello di Verrazzano, Greve with Maria-Sole and Luigi Cappellini, Michaela Morris and Caterina Mori

Castello Di Verrazzano Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Greve

Oh, ah, the perfume of Verrazzano. Not just aromas from a wine producing estate but the complex aromatic weave of a veritable and traditional fattoria, of olive trees, gardens and forest. Not an Annata of structural potency but more so one of evident spezzatura, of superior phenolics and balance. The first half of the wine is sapid, the second turns and finishes salty. In that sense indicative of bordering Montefioralle and yet the mix of strong red fruit plus savour is purely Verrazzano. Returns full circle to strength of perfume. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Verrazzano Chianti Classico DOCG 2017, Greve

Tasted from a gravity-filled system without pumping by machine to see what then effect on the wine might have, if any. Well if the exercise has any real consequence it would be on the energy and vitality of this Annata. The wine is full of pulse and life while structurally immovable and in no rush to mature. There is more precision on the nose and the palate as well. I’d say a good choice for bottling if not the most efficient way to produce your wines.  Last tasted February 2023

Such a unique aromatic expression here from Castello di Verrazzano and the pattern is becoming a thing of great consistent beauty. The judgement is sound if nearly spot on from a challenge and so the structure supporting makes for a resounding drink of sangiovese speciality. Very impressive for the year. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

View of the Greve Valley from Verrazzano

Castello Di Verrazzano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2018, Greve

For Luigi Cappellini some similarities are noted with what will come forward from 2020 (Annata) in that the fruit is of a similar ilk if also a compatible level of spezzatura. The ’18 Riserva used this warm vintage with mitigated assistance from the elevation of this northwestern part of Greve. Vineyards ranging from 250 to 480m quantify a keen effect on slower phenolic development. There is fruit maturity here and this won’t live as long as some other top structured vintages but as Riserva the savoury elements are heightened, the Grandi Botti effect on texture guaranteed and the Verrazzano perfume pops with every swirl. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Verrazzano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2004, Greve

There is much power and strength to 2004 in a Riserva more than holding the fort and the castle without showing any kinks in the armour or signs of decline. Even after 18 or 19 years there is very little development in this ’04 and I for one must applaud not just how slow it has evolved but also how little the Botti show up on the palate. A wine of fruit, spezzatura and savour more than chocolate or balsamic, start to finish. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Verrazzano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Sassello 2017, Greve

Sassello comes from the vineyard on the hill behind the Borgo at the highest elevation and while ripeness development will be slower there can be no doubt that 2017 was better here than most warmer and lower locations in Chianti Classico. The Sassello of this vintage is still stuck in first stage youth, quiet, dense and volumetric. The wine has moved but barely an inch, it speaks in fulsome texture and while yet to flesh out there is a roundness that will see it drink so well for years to come. The best of which will be two looking ahead and ten after that. Drink 2025-2035.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Verrazzano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Sassello 2013, Greve

The nose on 2013 is remarkably fresh but also open and generous, as fruity as it is filled with knowable Verrazzano perfume. There is a sanguine aspect to this ’13 but also a tar and roses section to put it in a place of its very own. Maybe even a sweetly herbal moment, middle plane minty with more than average structure still very much in charge. One of the bigger 2013s in the region, holding strong and going everywhere with all the time in the world. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Verrazzano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Valdonica 2017, Greve

Valdonica is both lighter and more linear as compared to Sassello with more classic speazztura and Verrazzano aromatics. Also a chalkiness and barrel induced texture but without the volume in Sassello. Valdonica is more straightforward, not as intense in terms of substantial fruit and also more available at this early stage. Saltier finish as well, more in line with Annata while Sassello seems akin to Riserva. Notable balsamico in Valdonica. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Verrazzano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG San Bartolo 2017, Greve

A single block Gran Selezione with the idea to make a more precise sangiovese (with some merlot) that expresses itself with great tension. Well first and foremost San Bartolo is a wine of fruit, big fruit and very generously so. The tension arrives halfway through the tasting experience as you realize a vice grip of tannin of intense expression has taken hold of the senses. The nervous nature of sangiovese combined with a single vineyard of elevation near 480m puts this Gran Selezione is a very specific place. These things supersede the dry and hot vintage in fact they lead at every stage. More chocolate by the Botti on the finish here than the other two Gran Selezione. Drink 2024-2031.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Volpaia Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Radda

Of all the 2021s to taste and assess there is no shock that Volpaia’s is just about as young and immovable as any. This is not major news for a vintage of great structure matched by upbringing for classic Classico. These are children of manners and respect, knowing their place in history, they being sangiovese, reticently expressive, necessary patient, with this Volpaia as experienced and abiding as any. The substance is that of a layered and complex weave with five per cent merlot involved to soften but also pull verdancy from a very tannic example. Bigger than recent vintages, weightier and potentially far more profound. Time will tell. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Coltassala 2019, Radda

Full and expressive Coltassala with smoulder and sneaky tannins behind a wealth of dark cherry red fruit. Seasoned yet the wood is gentle, beautifully integrated and while this is not the biggest, boldest or baddest of the Gran Selezione, by Volapia’s standards it is a munificent one. Shows off Radda’s acidity, especially at elevation and coupled with high level ripeness the chance to enjoy a bottle will come sooner than the average. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Vicchiomaggio Chianti Classico DOCG Guado Alto 2021, Greve

Guado Alto is the name assigned to Castello Vicchiomaggio’s Annata and solo sangiovese is the game. The fruit is about as honest and also forthright as it gets for the vintage and yet this smaller production (just 20,000 bottles) is the more focused of the estate’s wine at this appellative level. Really getable and manageable at this time which is something so many 2021s are yet to do. At the price this usually comes in at there can be only a few wines from this vintage offering equal and rarely better early drinking value. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Vicchiomaggio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Agostino Petri 2020, Greve

Talk about the passion, and the classics, in Riserva from Castello Vicchiomaggio the wonder is always present, accounted for and delivered through the name of Agostino Petri. No absence of these ideals from 2020, despite the challenge and the idea that this vintage is a Riserva vintage continues to be conceived. These things take time, wines especially built on sangiovese while here softened and made fruitier by ripe cabernet sauvignon. Spot on, generous and giving. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Cecchi Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Valore di Famiglia 2018, Castellina

Solid, weighty, tense and taut sangiovese here from Cecchi in the highest level on the appellative pyramid. Wound tight and will take five years to unwind, just as it has already been nearly five to wind up into this intense present character. Might dry out a bit and the seasoning will be peppery strong as the fruit subsides. The next few years will see the best moments for this Gran Selezioine. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Cinciano Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, San Donato In Poggio

Lovely 2020 from Cinciano, to no surprise with fruit and more fruit at the fore while support is effortlessly provided by both acid and tannin, equally, unequivocally and with hand held outstretched. Some more tension than quite a lot of 2020s but again the fruit does well to stay in line and for the ultimate purpose of balance. Another year will improve the situation. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Colle Bereto Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Radda

The most exotic perfume emits from Colle Bereto’s Annata in 2020 and there are none like it. Like cinnamon and coriander, pine and cedar, the forest and the spice cupboard fully involved. A truly structured and formidable wine, especially for 2020 and needing several years to resolve. That said the purity and quality are unwavering. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Colle Bereto Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, Radda

Big and brawny wine from Colle Bereto for Riserva and 2019 though of a concern with fruit cast in balance against structure lined up for low, slow and carefully curated development. And maturity with pure sangiovese raised and never braised, surely to be exulted and ultimately praised. Loving the acids within that structure and the chalkiness in smart ratio these vineyards seem to procure. Bravo Bernardo. Certamente. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Colombaio Di Cencio Chianti Classico DOCG Monticello 2020

The fruit is quite dark here and this has occurred in isolated frazione but more so pinpointed vineyard locations here and there from 2020 in the territory. Parts of Panzano and Radda but also here from Gaiole and yet the wine is soft, mature and accessible. More about sweet acids in structural terms so don’t think too much nor wait too long to drink this palatable wine.  Last tasted February 2023

Colombaio di Cencio presents a Gaiole herbology that’s always indicative and distinctive, sometimes by way of faintly sweet Amaro liqueur. That’s the first and then recurring feeling coming from this 2020, chalky and with acids that slide along with the red fruit speckled with fresh and also dried herbs. The tannins follow the latter with some pretty austere aridity. This will drink well in a few years, that much is certain, but unfortunately the bottle will not get any lighter. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted March 2022

Conte Capponi/Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Vigna Bastignano 2019, Montefioralle

More than promising vintage for this single vineyard Gran Selezione from Sebastiano Capponi and that is the operative word because Vigna Bastignano is beholden to time. From 2019 the one that suffices is such a structured sangiovese with broad shoulders with most substantial Montefioralle fruit to go the distance. More than suffices. Basti dire che. Drink 2025-2033.  Tasted February 2023

Dievole Chianti Classico DOCG Petrignano 2020, Vagliagli

Petrignano is a newer label for Dievole and in Annata form it’s a most forward thinking and drinking example from the Vagliagli estate. This from 2020 doubles down on the ideal with fruit sweet like candy, naturally and without any undue stress or tension in the glass. Easy, clean and getable. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted February 2023

Dievole Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020, Vagliagli

Here comes yet another bit of professional brilliance from Dievole at the Riserva appellative level, mainly with sangiovese plus two or three points of supportive and original territory DNA by canaiolo and colorino. Fruit swells straight away, up front and centre, equidistant from all parts connectable, structural and conceptual. Fruit is an apex predator that feeds on acid and tannin for survival. Dievole owns all the tools and gets it correct. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Fattoria Della Aiola Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Vagliagli

Aiola’s 2020 Annata is place and vintage driven raised in big casks and on promises, ready and willing to please when spring arrives, just around the corner. It’s really that close to having settled in and deliver the grace and charm expected. Quite a lovely, lithe and red citrus vintage right here of great specificity. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Fattoria Di Lamole Paolo Socci Chianti Classico DOCG Castello Di Lamole 2016, Lamole

Tart and volatile, a truly swarthy and natural sangiovese from Lamole. Both chewy and with some formaggi, a wine so very Lamole but more so this label within the UGA. Extremely parochial and idiosyncratic behaviour. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Fattoria Di Valiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Vagliagli

Sizeable case production and a sangiovese with some softening merlot out of the southerly Vagliagli UGA. Straightforward, of peppery plum and red citrus, currants and a dustiness about the overall feel. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted February 2023

Fattoria Le Fonti Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, San Donato In Poggio

Juicy, fruity, glycerin, simple and needing to be consumed. Drink 2023. Tasted February 2023

Fattoria Le Masse Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, San Donato In Poggio

Pure and ready, amenable and readable Annata here from Le Masse’s San Donato in Poggio vines, treated with utmost respect and for all the right reasons. This is textural sangiovese and quantities are so low you should count yourself lucky to secure just a bottle or two. Grace, understatement and charm are what this feels like are the things that comprise its beauty.  Last tasted February 2023

“To me, one of the best years for grapes,” tells winemaker Claudio Gozzi and the wood tank used for fermentation and now aging makes this noticeably a year wiser (than 2018) and so much more suitable to making this 100 per cent sangiovese. Even without tasting you can tell there’s a refinement, a calm and a settling that 2018 does not have. Cleaner, much more precision and seamless behaviour. Perfect volatility, sweet acidity and long, fine chains of tannin. Pure and honest, exacting, readier and will be just ideal with another year or so of time. Approximately 7,500 bottles produced. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted October 2021

Fattoria Di Montecchio Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, San Donato In Poggio

Purely San Donato in Poggio, red fruit of red citrus as gelid texture with a coolness and a fineness that speaks directly to 2019. The tannins are quite resolved and yet the wine has much to give and life yet to live. Look ahead five plus years and imagine the changes to come, but best to drink in the freshness for now.  Last tasted February 2023

The Annata of Montecchio always express a deeper San Donato in Poggio, classically citrus and red fruit meeting salumi cure, but there is always more. To the story and the point, Annata from 2019 gives earth, juice bled through stone and clay. If other UGAs are akin to Santenay than this Barberino Tavarnelle could be compared to say, Volnay. In sangiovese of course and Montecchio accedes to a Villages level, here in their suitably hyperbolic Annata. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2022

Fattoria Montecchio Chianti Classico DOCG Primum 2018, San Donato In Poggio

From Montecchio’s Premium Line in the squat half magnum bottle and from warm 2018 a mainly sangiovese with five percent cabernet sauvignon that smooths the angles and curves all the lines. Rounded, well-rounded at that, with really mature fruit, as if in a slow-cooked stew, braising liquid fine and viscous. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted February 2023

Felciano Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, Panzano

Dusty and herbal, quite the savoury expression, especially for Panzano and a wine of place above all else. Full and not lacking for fruit from a palate that does so much more in terms of impression and what this wine is capable of becoming. Still quite youthful so return in two years to see what will become.  Last tasted February 2023

Fèlsina Berardenga Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Castelnuovo Berardenga

Panzano and 100 per cent sangiovese, without a shadow of a doubt on either front, chewy and fulsome fruit, lots of sun and ripeness, chalky Galestro and perhaps even Pietraforte-induced structure. Acids are quite high for 2019 but then again it’s all sangiovese so why be surprised. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted March 2022

Firm yet fair Annata from Fèlsina and one off the harbingers not only for Castelnuovo Berardenga but surely Chianti Classico as a whole. The 2021s are a formidable group, like 2019 Barolo in certain structural and yet immovable respect. Though this entry is but an indicator, instigator and liquidator it does so with all possibilities and probabilities intact. Classic Fèlsina of a broad spectrum to speak on behalf of a wide breadth of fruit sourced out their many vineyard blocks. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Fèlsina Berardenga Rancia Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020, Castelnuovo Berardenga

There is a perfume, a scent of the earth and also Castelnuovo sky that creates au aura about Rancia for Riserva. The vineyard looms over the land and the fruit always marries with the earth to give away its character as it defies logic and does just this for the vintage. Each and every one actually, yet 2020 is warm and full, with pine and spice at the apex of Fèlsina’s usually aromatic display. A liqueur of macerating cherries season while more spice wakes and covers the palate, lingering and leaving memories behind. I will remember this Rancia, forever and always. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Fietri Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Gaiole

Express Gaiole savour, a verdancy unlike any other Chianti Classico commune or UGA. Crunchy red fruit like crusted cherries and of an intensity that has yet to dissipate, nor has this pure sangiovese softened in any way. There are layers to peel away and although the ripeness is not like 2019 it really doesn’t need to be. Speaks for the vintage and for Gaiole in correct ways, without apology and for longevity. Upper echelon 2020 Classico. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Fontodi Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Panzano

Definitely richer and also more overt structure from Panzano when you look at Fontodi’s Annata side by side with (Filetta di Lamole) and yet the vintage kinship is organized like cousins with familial ties. Finding high acid from 2020 and so all together there are many parts to put this vintage in the arena of long age-ability. Apt and ample viscosity makes for a mouthful of sangiovese and the variety always remains at the heart of a Classico by Fontodi. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Gagliole Chianti Classico DOCG Rubiolo 2021

Rubiolo is 100 per cent Sangiovese and Panzano fruit from 400-plus meters of elevation above and to the west side of the Conca d’Oro. Expressive of the two factions of Panzano character, texture and savour. Silky smooth liquidity and more accessible than what might have been pre-conceived though there is surely no lack of grip emanating through the cool ooze of this wine. Really quite fine. Drink 2024-2028.   Tasted February 2023

Gagliole Chianti Classico DOCG Rubiolo 2020

All sangiovese from Castellina (40 per cent), Panzano (45) and a small amount from Badia a Passignano (in San Casciano). “A regular season, warm but not like 2022,” explains agronomist Giulio Carmassi and so ”maturation was corchato (shorter)” and harvest was compressed in to five or six days. Rains came late in September, causing a nervous and quick pick. A good vintage though not considered top and yet the purity of red fruit is present. Saw a 20-22 day maceration time in stainless with aging for eight months, half in old barriques. Sent to concrete and blended. A firmness and still some moments of tension about this Classico with a push-pull posit tug between freshness and maturity expressed as salumi, skins too and two-toned fruit; dried currants and fresh pomegranate. For early drinking in any case, starting six months from now. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Gagliole, Panzano

Gagliole Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020, Panzano

Fulsome and chewy Riserva for Gagliole with 100 percent Panzano sangiovese part beautiful and part structured, by Galestro and Pietraforte soils. This fruit comes from the heart and epicentre of Chianti Classico Pietraforte with a warm 2020 delivering waves of fruit and mineral, alternating, integrating and soon to be evolving. This 2020 feels like a Riserva quite close to reaching its peak, likely in two years but the wealth of fruit means the door will open sooner rather than later. Drink 2024-2028. Tasted February 2023.

I Fabbri Chianti Classico DOCG Lamole Olinto Grassie E Figlio 2020, Lamole

A fine and lithe Annata from Susanna Grassi out of 2020 and yet without a doubt equipped with the fineness and beauty of eternal Lamole perfume. In a wonderful place right now, ease of fruit sliding on a corrente e snello scale, fine liquidity with a streak Of salinity. So apropos for Lamole and the varietal sangiovese it breathes. Spot on and restrained. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Il Molino Di Grace Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Panzano

“I don’t know why, but you will never see wines as dark as the 2020s,” tells Iacopo Morganti. Though truth is Il Molino Di Grace has never made less quantity and so concentration is as high as ever. Aside for hue this is “a nice Chianti Classico to drink now – my prelim is I don’t have enough,” says Morganti. Indelibly floral and stamped with quality approval, heady and yet elegant, forceful and elastic. Fine Galestro chalk of tannin and grip by Pietraforte. A different vintage and why shouldn’t it be? Happened during a pandemic and did its very own thing, without interruption and for all the right reasons. Magdalena Vineyard plays a big part in this level of appellative wine. These are simply grapes made into wine after all. Pure and real IMDG though with lower acidity and though big it’s easy to drink. Hyper real. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Molino Riserva

Il Molino Di Grace Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020, Panzano

In line with the Classico yet with better quality material chosen there is higher acidity and that matters greatly. Tannins are finer as well, yet that same darkness of pitchy and perfumed fruit is consistent with tighter and stronger grip. Must be granted another year in bottle to settle the strongholds and the score. The barrel has much to say right how, noted in grains running through the veins of the sangiovese. Older vines including Il Bosco are Riserva bound. The linger and length on this is infinite, at least in Riserva terms. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Il Molino di Grace, Panzano

Il Molino Di Grace Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, Panzano

Not just because of the extra year in bottle but also the kind of year, fruit more in red tones, effusive spoken language and elegance are what 2019 surely is. Acidity runs higher than 2020 and the wine while settling is still working through youthful energy. Still there are some bursts, fits and spurts from such a wine of vitality. Linear, less elastic but neither stringent nor too intense. Never vivid or glaring because it knows itself and what it wants to be. This will live long, that much is clear. Well, everything is very clear. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Il Molino

Il Molino Di Grace Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Il Margone 2020, Panzano

Fine tannic presence from Gran Selezione for 2020, several steps up from Riserva with less pitch and grab but still overt dark fruit. More diversity and complexity in perfume, notable violets and rose but really what stands out here is how the tannins allow the fruit to stay up front. There are no perceived grains or sand-papery textures involved, neither is Il Margone soft or fluffy. There may only be 8,000 or so bottles available at this quality and so a rare and must have wine it most certainly will be. Iacopo Morganti explains it well. “It’s not easy too make three different levels of Chianti Classico. You need to understand the vintage and the differences, especially when you have less quantity.” Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Il Palagio Di Panzano Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Panzano

As far as 2020 and Panzano are concerned there is a great deal of concentration and substance coming three ways from Il Palagio di Panzano’s Annata. Fruit, acid and tannin, all set to high intensity, each sucked and layered upon one another. A Classico in the great sense of the word and the appellation, pure and remarkable, not a sangiovese of any stringent notes despite how much has been pulled from these grapes. Juicy, no dustiness whatsoever and liquid running in soft waves. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Il Palagio Di Panzano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, Panzano

Panzano Riserva in glycerin and unction, substantial fruit and long cask aging, macerate juices swirling and compounding in complex flavours. Some verdant notes that are earthy-savoury driven, pine tree and needle, fern and allium. Complex weave of saline and sapid elements with a toasty oak component yet having fully settled in. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Isole Delle Falcole Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2018, Panzano

Only sangiovese and from a vintage where the final days of September saw crazy spikes in heat with nights at freezing. So the fruit was picked on the 28th and here the first Gran Selezione of Emanuele Graetz’s young tenure. Chewy sangiovese with so much palate feel, mouthfeel and texture. Again a Chianti Classico that you will not have ever tasted before. Leathery and fruit-centric with fine tannins though not the kind that will see this age the way the 2019 surely will. The flavours here however are complex and their linger is seemingly never-ending. A remarkable wealth of precociousness and purity, almost as innocent as a wine can be, lucky and wholly professional all at once. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Istine Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Radda and Gaiole

Angela Fronti’s Annata is an expression of several vineyards, where rocks are such an important matter, in soils of Galestro plus Alberese, but also elevation and slope. The Classico’s grapes come mostly from Radda vineyards (Istine and Casanova dell’Aia) but also Gaiole (Cavarchione, Tibuca and Le Noci). Though a child of cool, calculated and mysterious ’21 there is quite a rouse of joy and untamed energy coming straight out of this pure sangiovese. Fronti has done well to coax pleasure with little tension or pain and as such you could very much have a glass as soon as you wish. Barrel sample or not and so when it does find its wine into bottle this 2021 will drink well from the start.  Tasted February 2023

La Sala Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, San Casciano

With the oenological help of Stefano di Blasi it is this sangiovese from La Sala del Torriano that speaks in clear tones and terms. In San Casciano vernacular that translates as herbals and savour of the silkiest and sweetest kind. Like a dry Amaro, a chew of Australian liquorice and a lick of fine Maldon salt. Maybe some chocolate by the barrel at the finish. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

La Vigna Di San Martino Ad Argiano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020, San Casciano

Tiny production of Riserva here from La Vigna di San Martino ad Argiano in San Casciano and a curious example at that. Good ripeness and glycerol yet spiced, capsicum spicy and chalky within the context of pretty darn chewy fruit. All sangiovese and a wine certainly worth investigating to potentially really getting to know. Would like to put a few aside and see where they go. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted February 2023

Le Cinciole Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Panzano

Spiced aromatics, biscotti to ginger cookies, an eastern Panzano original, fresh and dusky, like the Frazione’s evening air. Tight and focused sangiovese, even more so Panzano on the palate, lightly glycerol and just so perfectly tart. Though a two-plus year old Annata this is really just about as fresh as it gets. Elevation contributes to the ideal, at 450m and near to the wines from Casole. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Le Cinciole Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, Panzano

Aromas will remain consistent in 2020, first of a baked amaretti or ginger cookie, a lovely toasted cereal but with an extra year in bottle this Annata expresses more brushy savour, a dried fennel character and yet plenty of freshness persists. The dusty quality is consistent from vintage to vintage and speaks to sangiovese needing time in the bottle to unwind and express its true to Panzano fruit. This is sangiovese of silky tannin but the same thing cannot be said of the mouthfeel. There is more savoury grip involved. Time will continue to help. Track record shows this possibility will become probability.  Last tasted February 2023

The Panzano work of Valeria Viganò and Luca Orsini travels from strength to strength and while this ’19 Annata was only bottled one month ago it shows the best freshness and right kind of crunchiness here at the Chianti Classico Collection. Indelibly stamped with Le Cinciole and Panzano terroir, a combination of earth and fruit showing as well as any these days. Can’t help but relish the level of tart and eye-popping flavours with an immediacy of early drinking possibility. Terrific Annata in every respect. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted March 2022

Le Cinciole Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Aluigi Campo Ai Peri 2018, Panzano

Aluigi’s fruit is darker than the Annata, its tannins are just as silky and as for mouthfeel there is more smooth consistency and character than in the other Le Cinciole wines. A much bigger wine from a bigger vintage in part because it was hot and also when the last two days of September produced high level degrees of temperature by day but also low to near zero by night. This means a big Aluigi with high level acidity captured and kept to be a catalyst for dark fruit to shine and age. Age well this will though it will always be a wine of depth and heft. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Vicky Schmitt Vitali – Le Fonti di Panzano

Le Fonti Di Panzano Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, Panzano

Classic Le Fonti and I mean what else but classic, as expected from fruit and producer so intrinsically connected it’s as though there is no separation between people and land. At this stage a maturity post reduction and locked in full freshness without steps taken towards the secondary. Spot on salt and pepper seasoning and a truly gastronomical sangiovese with soft merlot roundness plus hue-instigative colorino. Well blended and enjoyable in every respect. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Le Fonti Di Panzano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, Panzano

From 2018 there is the most crystalline clarity, purity and natural fruit sweetness from Le Fonti’s Riserva, this in spite of high level accumulated warmth and alcohol conversion rates. The merlot helps to smooth and silken the texture so that a seamless transition confirms the goal of invitation, to ideal phenolics and maximum pleasure. What this means for Vicky Schmitt-Vitali and Guido Vitali is a Riserva that speaks in their particular heart of Panzano language with a sangiovese so honest and direct, in every respect. Beautiful wine. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Le Fonti Di Panzano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2018, Panzano

Bigger wine in 2018, even more so than ’19, not because of stylistic choice or bigger dreams but simply because this part of Panzano experienced late season heat. Also cold nights and so Riserva’s acidity drives stride for stride with fruit, alcohol and tannin. Picking late ensured multi-toned ripeness and fully realized sangiovese dreams. An extreme vintage but one so well managed at Le Fonti because these custodians of Panzano are pragmatic survivors who can do nothing but fashion the most hospitable and nurturing Chianti Classico. It is the proprietors’ heritage, imperative and humanity. This is a wine of intensity and concentration, perhaps less fresh than 2019 but one that just may outlast that vintage in its own special way. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Le Miccine Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020, Gaiole

Barrel sample. Very taut, acids still running amok and wood very much in control. Blue to black fruit with a stop at purple, Gaiole savour and a whole mess of everything happening at once. Needs a minimum two years to settle in but there is plenty of stuffing to see brightness ahead. More than a bit early to make any lasting assessment.  Tasted February 2023

Le Palaie Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, Montefioralle

A new look at Montefioralle and a tiny production for Chianti Classico of perfectly timed maturity. Though there is a simplicity about the character of this 2019 it is nothing if not a lovely glass of wine. The 20 percent mixing in of merlot and cabernet sauvignon just pushes the point further to understand that this is about here and now. Drink up CC lovers. This is a basic gateway drug. Drink 2023-2024.   Tasted February 2023

Diego Finnochi and Elisa Arretini – L’Erta di Radda

L’Erta Di Radda Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020, Radda

Barrel sample. Only Diego Finocchi presents sangiovese in Riserva this way. With grace and fluidity, liquid sapidity and Raddese acidity. No canaiolo in 2020, solo sangiovese and the balance shows, the major grape able to create the push-pull of posit salty to mineral tug without problem. There is tension mind you, but no issues to report on. There never are. Still it’s simply too early for full disclosure or assessment.  Tasted February 2023

Lornano Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Castellina

Tasting and assessing Lornano from 2020 at such an early stage feels unprecedented yet here we are and try we will to see the forest for the trees. Some tart angles and more than ample tannin yet clear and sweet they are in surround of fruit we just know will become fleshy and expansive. Again, this is sangiovese and time is of the matter. Patience for Lornano and their corner of Castellina. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Losi Querciavalle Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Castellina

As with some other well known Chianti Classico producers that hold back Annata longer than most this feels strange to be tasting a 2020 from la Famiglia Losi. A most glycerol Castelnuovo Berardenga and one of impressive fruit though wood is very much a factor, imparting a floral and vanilla waft through the bones of the wine. That and what Alberese will instigate makes us understand that this sangiovese with sapidity catalyst canaiolo is not yet done what maturing it needs to do. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted February 2023

Fattoria Di Luiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, San Casciano

More than markedly youthful Annata by Alessandro Palombo from a 2021 vintage we are still years away from figuring out. Reductive and coiled tight with acids proper wrapped around substantial fruit. Neither pepper nor rubber but simply fruit, structure and youth. Need to revisit a year from now to see what it’s all about. Judgement is a tad reserved. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Fattoria Di Luiano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Ottontuno 2019, San Casciano

Not simply stuck in a black hole of structure but this 2019 San Casciano Gran Selezione is of an immovable infrastructure that defines positioning and appellate category. Big boned and more of an impression left as opposed to expressiveness, at least now and likely for five more years. Needing the toasty wood and dense tannins to dissipate, things that will take quite a bit of time. Drink 2025-2031.  Tasted February 2023

Marchesi Frescobaldi Tenuta Perano Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Gaiole

You can always feel the white soil of Tenuta Perano and nowhere more so than from Annata level Chianti Classico. More than sangiovese with 10 percent merlot and (5) cabernet sauvignon for a silky smooth 2020 that wants to share its impression as early as it can. Cool and sappy, easy to understand and professional as they come. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted February 2023

Marchesi Frescobaldi Tenuta Perano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, Gaiole

Perano glides as Riserva, smooth and suave, sangiovese ripe as necessary and just a few splashes of merlot tossed in for the good measure of sweet seasoning. Quite an easy drinking Riserva of 2019 generosity, the least amount of savoury elements possible as it pertains to Gaiole and these white calcareous soils of the Tenuta. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Maurizio Brogioni Chianti Classico DOCG H’Amorosa 2021, Montefioralle

Barrel sample. A smallest of small production for Annata determines the effort and fate of this Montefioralle 2021. Just a touch of verdant behaviour touches the back end but this is poignant and proper for 2021 of classic and traditional Annata style.  Tasted February 2023

Maurizio Brogioni Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020, Montefioralle

A small lot and still peppery reductive sangiovese as Riserva from 2020. Quite toasty, smoky even and lots of green running around. Needs time and yet it will be hard to imagine these roasted and smouldering notes ever fully falling away, or melting in. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Monte Bernardi Chianti Classico DOCG Sangió 2021, Panzano

From a property purchased in September 2018 above the village of Panzano, direction Volpaia. One of 10 hectares planted to the MB33 clone with this being the third vintage and first time shown at an Anteprima. There was 800mm of rain ahead of the growing season and the vineyard’s elevation attracts high solar radiation juxtaposed against cooler night time temperatures. Also less rot than at Monte Bernardi with similar soils of Galestro and Pietraforte. Michael Schmelzer refers to hedge trimming as the way to maintain composure. From a viticultural standpoint 2018 is a vintage that separates the wheat from the chaff, with no rain during the season. “If you have different clones, say 420A and/or do not hedge trim, you can’t complain about irrigation,” says Schmelzer. “You’re throwing away water.” Not Michael and the early results of his new frontier vineyard determine a sangiovese bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, enthusiastic, happy and full of energy. What else can you say? MB33 is part of the fabric of Chianti Classico’s future. Drink 2024-2031.  Tasted February 2023

Monte Bernardi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020, Panzano

Unexpectedly tannic vintage and also for what it means to be a Monte Bernardi Riserva. Less showy and forward than 2018 though the immediacy gained is again from a long 45 day post-fermentative maceration with higher than many stem inclusion. Higher than 2019 and 2021 in that regard. “I’ve reasons for what I do,” explains Michael Schmelzer. “My decisions are like my cooking instinct. I don’t follow the hard rules of a laboratory. I work on fundamentals, not relying on numbers.” Riserva is a matter of knack and intuition, salt and pepper seasoning, a Monte Bernardi style and best case scenario. Though grippy as a vintage there is haute and high caste toothsome piquancy in this 2020 and it may just fool us all by outliving the rest. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Greve from Montefioralle

Montecalvi Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Greve

Barrel sample. Showing every minute not yet gained as a sangiovese with a few percentage points of various complimentary grapes (3) canaiolo plus (2) altri vitigni creating a push pull of saline-sapid notations. A bit swarthy and volatility needs to settle but a little bit of sulphur at bottling will do the trick.  Tasted February 2023

Montefioralle Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Montefioralle

Lorenzo Sieni’s 2020 Annata is just perfectly Montefioralle, succulent through savoury and back again, acidity running up the sides of the palate and fruit round throughout. Never tries too hard nor demands too much, of itself or us, the willing and abiding tasters. Lovely Annata and perfectly expressive of time and place. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Alessandra Deiana and Michele Braganti, Monteraponi, Radda

Monteraponi Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Radda

Ripe red fruit to the nth degree and a most natural feeling emitting from Michele Braganti’s 2021 Annata with a readiness ahead of many. A sweetness in the plums and citrus expressed as pure sapid tang with perfect help made to slide across the palate. This is a restrained and fine acid example with sneaky structure laying low, much like Beaune pinot noir, albeit in Chianti Classico. “You just have to wait,” shrugs Braganti. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Monterotondo Chianti Classico DOCG Vigna Vaggiolata 2020, Gaiole

Good and plenty fruit with a twist in that additions of canaiolo and malvasia nera bring seasoning and spice. Travels well beyond salinity into aromatics and flavours from the spice rack and sapid sensations accrued. A crisp and crunchy Annata for 2020, spoken as Gaiole through the name Vaggliolata. Settling in nicely at this point and drinking really well. Savoury without overt greenness or toast. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Azienda Agricola Mori Concetta Chianti Classico DOCG Morino 2021, San Casciano

Quite a compliment of other endemic grapes not only aid and abet but work so properly too create cohesion and define this special Classico from San Casciano. The breakdown of 80 percent sangiovese, (10) canaiolo, (5 each) pugnitello and colorino is essential and creates a balanced 2021, of less tension than some but also pure without greens or greys mired in the void. A very successful and textured wine of silk and chalkiness for seven to ten years ahead. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Azienda Agricola Mori Concetta Chianti Classico DOCG Morino 2020, San Casciano

A singular Chianti Classico and also San Casciano expression with an almost San Donato in Poggio-like blood orange of red citrus expressiveness. Also textural, of glycerol and the savoury elements that while present are less what we think of when we consider San Casciano. Plenty of machinations in this 2020, of 80 per cent sangiovese, (10) canaiolo, plus (5 each) pugnitello and colorino. Stands apart from the pack. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Nardi Viticoltori Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Castellina

Traditional in so many respects and also a sangiovese plus five percent each endemic canaiolo and colorino for a doubling down of abiding respect to Castellina and all of Chianti Classico. Expertly tart and liquid chalky, a year away from integrating structure through the wine, to be followed by three to five years of fine drinking. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Piemaggio Chianti Classico DOCG Le Fioraie 2019, Castellina

Most curious aromatic 2019 from Piemaggio with Chinese five spice all over the waft. That and preserved strawberry, tar and roses. Quite nebbiolo like in some respects with different tannins of course. Cool and savoury, notable evergreen and mint, finely designed and amply structured. Good example of red Castellina while setting its own course of style. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Podere Capaccia Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Radda

The fineness of red fruit in layers and made to express breathes of fresh air in fine sprit by elevation in Radda sets this Podere Capaccia up for great success. Charming, graceful and yet grippy enough to stand up, defend its territory and survive for quite a stretch of time. Fine work from Alyson Morgan and team. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Podere La Cappella Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, San Donato In Poggio

Graceful and charming sangiovese with smoothness and texture added poignancy by 10 per cent merlot puts this 2020 in great vintage standing. Yes it is so very San Donato in Poggio but it’s also Podere La Cappella in a nutshell. The Rossini wines always express and taste this way, like bleeds from white limestone and a ripeness befitting this place. Also freshness by winds from the sea running through as a relish and a vim that keeps your hold of the palate. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Podere La Cappella Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Querciolo 2018, San Donato In Poggio

Very pretty 2018 Riserva, reddest of red fruit with that omnipresent streak of white Colombino limestone running through. Great and substantial fruit, high level acidity and my what fine tannins. A perfectly reasoned and seasoned Riserva for drinking 10 years. Easy. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted February 2023

In Riserva form Podere La Cappella really sees a long developed through late picking sangiovese come to full fruition. Beautiful flesh and texture, fulsome fruit and sweetening acidity. Very fortifying with that blood orange to limestone bleed in great hyperbole. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted February 2022

Fattoria Poggerino Chianti Classico DOCG Nuovo 2021, Radda

One thing you can count on is for Piero Lanza’s sangiovese to come out ripe as any in the territory and 2021 would surely not be an exception to the rule. The fruit is remarkable and the structural parts equally formative and formidable so I’m not sure Lanza has made such a wine in quite some time. Years are needed to settle the pieces, parts and puzzles of this magnanimous affair. Don’t care that Annata is the appellation. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Fattoria Poggerino Chianti Classico DOCG Nuovo 2020, Radda

Once again why should there be any surprise to find Piero Lanza’s sangiovese from Radda in this state of heightened grace and exactly and correctly what it’s interpreted to be?Where else would a wine so big seem so balanced? How else to explain conversion rates at this level so ideally suited to vineyards that ripen to a point and then begin again? It’s a matter of listening to wind, grains of wood and sand, essence of minerals and elements, spoken through stone. This is Poggerino, anew and reborn, year after year. Nuovo.  Last tasted February 2023

Piero Lanza’s 2020 is a bright, effusive and luminescent version of itself in that there seems to be a lightness of being and avoidance of rich density. Quite the aromatic lift this early and time around, floral, like roses, hibiscus and fresh tar, not unlike some Tortonian raised nebbiolo. As sangiovese there is sneaky structure in quantifiably knowable admonition and that is said in the most complimentary of ways. Radda chalk, sand and whole bunch verdancy bring complexities and the struggle is real. Disregard the appellative concept of Annata in part, because this should go long. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted March 2022

Poggio Al Sole Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, San Donato In Poggio

Lovely 2020 Annata from San Donato in Poggio though quite mature and resolved at this early juncture. Acids are still hopping and popping while the wood has done little melting into the overall feel of the wine. Seems like two parts are involved and integration may never fully happen. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Fattoria Pomona Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Castellina

Monica Raspi’s Pomona Annata is simply a beautiful expression of 2020 Castellina. Spiced and seasoned, just such correct tart and tang, crisp and pure with a swath of beautiful and natural swarthiness through the finish. When this finishes its journey the pieces will all have fallen into place and nothing will distract from pleasure. Kudos to Raspi for exulting the vintage to rise above the rest. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Principe Corsini Villa Le Corti Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, San Casciano

Firm and apropos of maker and location, reddest of red San Casciano fruit developed with purpose in vineyards graced by river stones of vines in the path of beneficial marine winds. You can feel the breathability and even a shade of saltiness streaking through the red berry aromas. Crisp, crunchy and then chewy as the wine fleshes across the palate. Duccio Corisini gets better and better at making wines of clarity and profundity. Grande Principe! Drink 2025-2033.  Tasted February 2023

Querceto Di Castellina Chianti Classico DOCG L’Aura 2021, Castellina

Proper and well raised sangiovese but also conceived as Annata with trenchant purpose is the state of Jacopo di Battista’s most correct L’Aura. There is a sweetness of fruit and acidity rolling as one without much structural distraction though there is some underlying strength in subtlety to see this open with furthered aromatic style. A direction is taken and these are wines to try. If you have not yet joined the watch the time is now. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Quercia Al Poggio Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, San Donato In Poggio

Purely, allegedly and unequivocally San Donato in Poggio here from Quercia al Poggio and an estate that writes the book on frazione definition. Sweetly natural red fruit from plum and citrus, tight and tart acidity but also warmth if kept fresh by breezes blown through. Another quality sangiovese from Vittorio and Paola with spicy bits and accents contributed by four supporting indigenous varieties. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Querciabella Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Greve

New directions, adjustments and mediations take Querciabella’s Annata into ever developing progressions and investigative accessing of new territory. Here from 2020 winemaker Manfred Ing finds new texture or next level mouthfeel for an Annata increasingly becoming and speaking on behalf of Greve and especially the Ruffoli hill. This vintage is not asked to over deliver and the statement made is one of drink-ability but also impression over expression. Top examples don’t try to impress – they simply do what’s necessary and so a deep impression is ultimately made. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Renzo Marinai Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, Panzano

Just a beautifully silky, suave and smooth Annata from Renzo Marinai in 2019, expertly blended and having now matured into a great place at this stage of its evolution. Red fruit captured to what just has to be the most ripeness in phenolic terms, with tannins so sweet they melt at first contact with the palate. Gentle in every respect including woolliness, liquid pepper and verdant finishing notes. That’s where the 10 percent cabernet sauvignon makes its appearance. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Renzo Marinai Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, Panzano

A fine and suave Riserva from the Panzano selection of Renzo Marinai, as much a Gran Selezione as many peers, open and fragrant, liquid swirl of sangiovese liqueur but also Cassis by 10 per cent cabernet sauvignon. Amenable and beautiful, handsome and sleek. Fine, fine wine. Drink 2023-2030.  Tasted February 2023

Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Gaiole

A clear and purposed Ricasoli Annata, standing on edge, pointed and direct to tell a story of tradition and five soils across many hectares of expertly managed vineyards. Grippy and firm, needing six months to a year in bottle, fine and expressive being the actions of the future. Hoping to see this released in the fall of 2023 in Ontario. That would be the right time to begin enjoying this wine. Impressive interpretation of Gaiole considering 600,000 bottles are made. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Rocca Delle Macìe Famiglia Zingarelli Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020, Castellina

Dark fruit as per very specific locations in Chianti Classico and a Riserva of depth to be sure. The well is full of macerating cherries, fresh leather and wood spice for tradition kept but modernity acceded to install confidence in what today’s Riserva in many instances has become. Fulsome wine from Rocca delle Macìe, to no surprise. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Rocca Delle Macìe Gran Selezione Chianti Classico DOCG Tenuta Di Fizzano 2020, Castellina

The classicism of a Famiglia Zingarelli Gran Selezione from a single estate and a much smaller sku than most would expect. Just 26,000 bottles made and a top pyramid expression at a most affordable price for very specific markets, including Ontario which should be thankful for the gift. Crunchy and conversely chewy, wood a factor in vanilla plus chocolate, acids sharp and on point. Will live gracefully for a few years yet. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Rocca Delle Macìe Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Sergio Zingarelli 2019, Castellina

It just feels as though a Famiglia Zingarelli sangiovese will always act, emit and taste this way, that were this wine poured blind we would know the origin and the appellation. That being Gran Selezione and with 2019 the glare and obvious beautiful red mess of Castellina fruit is right there. The tops for substantial fruit as far as this GS is concerned and possessive an aging potential long and great. Should become one of Zingarelli’s finest. Drink 2025-2033.  Tasted February 2023

Rocca Di Castagnoli Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Gaiole

It seems that only Rocca di Castagnoli unearths this very specific kind of red fruit in Gaiole and it must be attributed to location but also elevation. Less herbal and savoury than almost all the rest of Gaiole but surely startling and vital in its very own way. This from 2021 is firm yet fair, chalky tannic but seemingly not a fortress unbreakable or formidable to gain access. A well characterized and nurtured Chianti Classico that will give back. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Rocca Di Montegrossi Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Gaiole

Surprising grip and structure here from Rocca di Montegrossi’s 2021 Annata, well not exactly shocking but this is a vintage wine quite far from readying towards release. Tannins are fine chained, grained, unbreakable and of a saltiness really connecting the mineral dots of this wine. Some canaiolo and colorino bring added seasoning and so sapidity is a thing. Crunchy for Gaiole and less herbaceous than most. Should begin to open in 18 months or so. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Ruffino Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Riserva Ducale Oro 2018, Castellina

Suave and smooth, nary a tannic moment, easy drinking Gran Selezione. Not the most structured 2018 and very little tension but you can enjoy the wealth of fruit, wood and savour for three to four years while you wait for others vintages to settle in and open their doors. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

San Fabiano Calcinaia Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Castellina

Sangiovese with 10 percent canaiolo and colorino from the warm vintage down in quantity due to the April frosts, a year-plus spent in tonneaux followed by six months in bottle before release. That quantity was two-thirds of a normal production and concentration is surely above the norm in this 2021. Great acidity, highest level of the stuff and the fruit is ever-bearing ripe on the nose while tannins are overtly grippy and the wine needs another year in bottle to truly show its stuff. That said this will surely be the finest Annata from San Fabiano Calcinaia. Drink 2025-2031.  Tasted February 2023

San Fabiano Calcinaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Cellole 2019, Castellina

Mainly Sangiovese with some colorino and a few splashes of merlot “that speaks Chiantigiana.” Also a 500m elevation for most of these grapes, the sangiovese planted in the 80s and converted to organic in the 90s. A stony Galestro soil opposite to the sandy clay and calcari, i.e Calcinaia around the borgo and winery. Only Cellole delivers this cool, liquid peppery swarthiness that the Classico does not show and also a combination of verdant but also distinct minerals notes. Tannins are exceptionally taut with at least two to three years remaining before they begin to truly integrate. Drink 2025-2033.  Tasted February 2023

San Fabiano Calcinaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Cellole 2015, Castellina

Unequivocal Cellole profile, woollen and natural, earthen and full-bodied. The more this 2015 ages the more it smells and tastes like Cellole, the place. It simply exaggerates and hyperbolizes with each drop in tannin, each integrate connection between maturing fruit and those once über grippy tannins. Classic Calcinaia acidity bar none.  Last tasted February 2023

Cellole is San Fabiano Calcinaia’s top tier Chianti Classico from Guido Serio out of Castellina in Chianti. There is always a curious and distinguishable aromatic profile in all their sangiovese but especially from the Gran Selezione. Part hematic and part natural in origin that is split between land and cellar. As for the vintage the sweetness of fruit and the thick texture it bleeds is the plasma and the oxygen that gives it breath. Expressly Castellina in deep red fruit and with a particular San Fabiano chalky twist. Opens and breathes some more with air and time. Well-framed and positioned at the price point for a good seven or eight year run. Drink 2020-2027.  Tasted May 2020

San Fabiano Calcinaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Cellole 2010, Castellina

The third to last bottle of said vintage is opened for this tasting and what a treat to have a moment with this inaugural vintage of the Cellole as Gran Selezione. Showing its age in aromas to be sure and yet the palate is vibrant while oak flavours and spice are intrinsically pronounced. The swell is filled with soya, iodine, black cherry and a sanguine flood throughout. Tannins persist in a chalkiness as well but what is most fascinating is this gastronomy of a Gran Selezione. It just tastes like Tuscan cuisine and though a finger can’t be put on exactly what that is, well there is a gaminess, from dry-aged bistecca to picciona that makes this wine taste like it does. Then arrives the porcini, tartufo and orange zest. Complexities abound and all are pleased.  Last tasted February 2023

San Fabiano Calcinaia Vin Santo Del Chianti Classico DOCG 2006, Castellina

A small amount of sangiovese joins trebbiano and malvasia bianco for Vin Santo from what is considered a top appellative vintage. Clocks in at 15 per cent after more than 10 years in caratelli, emerging as nutty and finely golden toasty as any in the biz. Hazelnut namely but also this gelid lemon and gingered orange crème brûlée flavour that lingers forever. As savoury as it is sweet so don’t confine this to dessert wine times. Begin the night with an ounce or two alongside the antipasti, preferably of a pâté, parfait or rillettes kind. Drink 2023-2036.  Tasted February 2023

San Felice Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Castelnuovo Berardenga

Annata or anything else by San Felice can only act like a child and a rebellious one at that when tasted so early in its tenure. Barrel and tannin are far from ready to relent and allow their wine its due. There is a fortress door to open and the substance behind the gates lies in waiting to be free. Two years methinks before that becomes reality. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted February 2023

San Giusto A Rentennano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Le Baròncole 2020, Gaiole

Barrel sample and the youth of this San Giusto wine is something too behold. A fortification equal to both Siena and Firenze combined. Le Baròncole is serious, stone-faced and impressive. My goodness. Score and full assessment reserved to a much later date.  Tasted February 2023

Tenuta Carobbio Chianti Classico DOCG 2018, Panzano

Then comes along Carobbio with a wine older than almost any other Annata in the collection and yet even from 2018 this sangiovese has yet to hit its stride. Dark fruit of baritone voice and depth puts this in unique territory and it would seem the grapes were mainly picked later, after the two day heat spike at September’s culmination. That said low nighttime temps kept the acidity and so 2018 from Carobbio should age as well as any Riserva and many Gran Selezione from the vintage. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Tenuta Casenuove Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, Panzano

Fruit quite mature of 90 percent sangiovese with five each merlot and cabernet sauvignon, a focused expression and very much the warmest of (western) Panzano style. You can taste the Bordeaux grapes in here, with a Cassis for sure but also some desiccation of small berries. Minty and a cherry stone bitterness on the palate with drying tannins. Give an hour of air and drink over the next three years. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Tenuta Casenuove Chianti Classico DOCG 2018, Panzano

Fruit quite fresh for 2018 and in a way more so than the following 2019, here again from a consistent blend of 90 percent sangiovese with five each merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Juicy Panzano expression, ready and willing to please, tannins softening now and acidity captured with truth. Raspberry and blueberry, fruit captured at peak and here an Annata with silky tannins, everything in line and ready to roll.  Last tasted February 2023

Crunchy Panzano Annata here from Tenuta Casenuove, peppered as opposed to peppery, as if with freckles or micro-sized bits of earth. Plenty of salt and pepper seasoning but again nothing sharp or spicy about it and fruit so very berry red.  Tasted March 2022

From the southwest corner of Greve in Chianti, southwest of Montefioralle and close to Panzano. Modish and modern for 21st century sangiovese is just this, stylish, chic and highly motivated. Quite fully developed and felt red fruit of glycerin, pectin and mouthfeel but you want more and more. Impressive magnitude in bringing so much fruit into the mix. Not overtly high in acid or tannin so use this early and often. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted twice, February 2020

Purple shales where the three UGAs of Montefioralle, Panzano and Greveconverge

Tenuta Casenuove Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2019, Panzano

Riserva is 100 per cent sangiovese, a bit dusty and reserved, acids and tannins very much in charge. Crisp and crunchy for Riserva with notable fennel and balsamic notes with a nuttiness that is a palate extension from palate sweetness. A factor of new and used barriques with baking spice that in conjunction with full on ripeness to the edge creates a feeling of sleepiness. Enervating sangiovese. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted February 2023

Tenuta Casenuove Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2018, Panzano

A Riserva quite consistent with the ’18 Annata, than the 19s, fruit captured at a more harmonious induced state and ultimately juicier as a result. Tannins silky with plenty of glycerol in a Riserva of dark western Panzano caramelization. Would not wait to drink this 100 percent sangiovese because maturity is fully happening already. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted February 2023

Tenuta Di Arceno Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Castelnuovo Berardenga

A vintage for which merlot at 15 per cent does wonders to install calm and roundness into San Gusmé sangiovese of dusty, drifty and instigative tannin. There is a swirl of red to purple berry liqueur in this high glycerol content of an Annata to take Castelnuovo Berardenga into another stylistic and one not often reached. Modernized, renovated and refurbished. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Tenuta Di Carleone Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Radda

All in with sangiovese from Radda and the term in purezza rings true on so many levels. First by grape variety, second by commune/UGA from which acidity is expressly Raddese and finally for an Annata of superior clarity. Quality too, guaranteed and obvious as witnessed by a wine both getable now yet structured for longer than most would postulate and mistakenly choose the under to pontificate. The lines and ascension are perfectly incremental and Tenuta di Carleone will rise with the finest of the 2020s. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Tenuta Di Lilliano Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Castellina

There are many, not all mind you but a great number of 2021 Chianti Classico in delivery of this silken, glycerol and so very modern character. That and a firm grip with high level acidity captured. A big wine this time from Lilliano, stylish, chic and strutting. Fruit set and connectivity are well aggregated though this won’t be one to age indefinitely. Drink in the near term. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Tenuta San Vincenti Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Gaiole

Soft, getable, smooth and silken sangiovese, made more so in this way by 20 percent merlot for a drink as soon as possible example for the vintage. A 2020 of fine style, simple, functional and professional. Relatively speaking this is a small lot Annata (at 20,000 bottles) and worthy of your attention. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted February 2023

Massimo and Cosimo Bojola – Squarcialupi, Castellina

Tenute Squarcialupi La Castellina Chianti Classico DOCG Cosimo Bojola 2021, Castellina

Squarcialupi farms 33 Castellina hectares plus 10 in Maremma. Massimo Bojola’s is the only cellar in the village of Castellina. His father in law purchased the land, building, enoteca, restaurant and aging cellar in 1980. From 2020 all the wines are organic. Aged in amphora for 11 months, all sangiovese on skins, the label hand drawn by Cosimo himself. The only Chianti Classico DOCG for which 100 percent comes out of amphora and Cosimo’s is anything but light and yes it’s a different style but there is nothing idiosyncratic about this wine whatsoever. Blood orange, tar and roses, just sticky enough to solicit palate attention and really just a pure expression of sangiovese. A melt of sweet clay, very Galestro mineral. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Tenute Squarcialupi La Castellina Chianti Classico DOCG Squarcialupi 2020, Castellina

The label is a of a painter in the Squarcialupi Palace, drawn by Cosimo Bojola. Just over a year in medium sized cask, same vintage as the Amphora Chianti Classico yet darker of fruit which seems counterintuitive to this not remaining on skins for 11 months – as with the Cosimo Bojola. It’s the colorino, even at five percent doing the hue-mans work. Rich and unctuous, high acid tang, intense and a bit vivid. Stays its course all the way through, never wavering or being led to distraction, neither by overly aggressive tannins or astringencies. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Tenute Squarcialupi La Castellina Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2018, Castellina

All sangiovese, subjected to a prolonged capello sommerso maceration for up to two months. Spends two years in smaller wood, 10 and 14 hL sizes and going forward there will be at least some amphora aging for this wine. Much meatier and marbled than both Annata with Cinta Senese muskiness and peppery finocchiona spice. Complex Riserva in so many respects, plenty of fruit substance with minerals popping in and out at every turn. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Tenute Squarcialupi Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016, Castellina

A 100 percent sangiovese made from the sace vineyard as Riserva, of same prolonged maceration a la Capello sommerso. Aging in small Tuscan barrels made near Rufina, barriques and tonneaux of size. Adds a tougher and grippier feel to sangiovese, unlike the softness of French barriques. This Selezione has settled well and the fruit is remarkably fresh. All parts of this ’16 are in order, in symbiosis repeated and layered, folding back upon itself again and again. Ready to drink, wholly enjoyable, now and for a few more winters. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Terra Di Seta Chianti Classico DOCG 2021, Vagliagli

Dense and fulsome, as always with generous barrels exaggerating the macerate pool in which thick and viscous sangiovese with five percent cabernet sauvignon swims. An intense example, especially at Annata level and though the tannins are a bit hard and drying there is ample to substantial fruit to handle the realities of this wine. Wait two years. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Terreno Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Greve

Mainly stainless steel fermentation plus some open top fermenters, followed by 16 months in large (30 hL) botti. A mix of the younger plantings from all three vineyard sites; Terreno, Montefioralle and in some vintages also Sillano across the valley from Terreno up against the Monti del Chianti. Makes up approximately 35-40 percent of the total (80,000 bottle) production. The 2019 is the Annata on the market and this will likely be released later in the Spring. Approachable like many 2020s of darker fruit and a roundness making this ready as soon as anyone would wish to drink it. Already at this stage the freshness and generosity meet at a point of open amenability. Good flesh on the bone and also like biting into red stone fruit. Clarity and purity. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Terreno Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2018, Greve

Sangiovese plus 10 percent cabernet sauvignon, (5) colorino and mainly Bonnille Vineyard across the valley from Terreno, of eight hectares on Alberese soil purchased in the 90s to add to the existing seven at Terreno. Similar altitude upwards of 350m and a warm vintage leading to 14.5 percent alcohol. Open top fermenters called Mastella are used for the fermentation, introducing oxygen and yet keeping a cap above for a wet journey through to the transfer for aging in big barrels. A Riserva of sanguinity and also animale, a lovely salumi and also raw meat muskiness that speaks to making an appellative wine from a very specific place. Good structure here as well, showing signs of life to live until the end of the decade. Really good work here from the vintage. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Terreno, Greve

Terreno Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Asofia 2019, Greve

Asofia is only from the oldest vines planted in 1980 and 2019 i the first vintage labeled as Gran Selezione. Previous it was a single-vineyard slash cru-designate, 100 percent Chianti Classico. A much more pinpointed and focused wine as compared to the Classico, aromatically charged with Alberese and clay as the soil source abutting the Chianti Mountains. A maturity and concentration of fruit as per the old vines that lend experience and fullness. Picked on the 4th of October and it shows in the phenolic quality, upwards of let’s say 8.5, pushing nine out of 10 on that hypothetic scale. Brush and cooler climate from the surrounding woods lends a savoury element to this wine and in Greve terms there is an almost Lamole at elevation and perfumed aspect of this hyper specific sangiovese. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Terreno Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Sillano 2019, Montefioralle

One of two Gran Selezione and harvested almost a week later on October 10th, referring to the place and little church near the village of Montefioralle. From 500m on calcareous soils (Essentially Alberese), not Formazione di Sillano as might have once been supposed because of the name of the place. No barriques or tonneaux, aged 24 months in 12 and 24 hL oak, finishing at 13.5 percent, much apposite to 2018 that finished at 15 percent. This is purely Montefioralle, exquisitely so, cool and fresh, elegant and if this isn’t an ideal vintage for the UGA then I for one will have no idea what is. Purity of parochial red fruit and a temperate state of being, calm and relaxed. The tension lies hidden in the shadows of this wine, non-explicit and as a result the sangiovese seems non-plussed. The tannins are upright, timely yet taut. All this to say that Sillano will be ready just a bit later than Asofia and will also live just that much longer. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted February 2023

Tolaini Chianti Classico DOCG Vallenuova 2021, Castelnuovo Berardenga

Lovely aromatic swirl emanates from the Vallenuova 2021 and the capture is pure Castelnuovo Berardenga, regardless of how ubiquitous that may sound, or seem. This is the sangiovese of great and wide open space, of crisp air and therefore freshness but also dusty qualities that speak to grape and place. Wait a year and drink for three to four thereafter. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Tolaini Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Vigna Montebello Sette 2019, Castelnuovo Berardenga

Hard to pick a better vintage from which to create a Montebello for the ages. Here a pure Castelnuovo sangiovese that sings, in warm weather and were it to rain, happily anyway, structured and built to last a lifetime. This is Tolaini’s success, their benchmark at the top appellative level, so right, correct and true. Bravo. Drink 2024-2033.  Tasted February 2023

Vallone Di Cecione Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Panzano

It just feels like a wine from Vallone di Cecione and the amazing thing is you only need to taste one or two wines, three or four years running to recognize the gentle breeze of sapidity running through the subtle swarthiness of their sangiovese. With canaiolo too, for that sapid streak cutting into acidity, extending the character of complexity and yet the unction of Panzano is the final call. This 2020 is exacting for VdeC. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Villa Trasqua Chianti Classico DOCG 2019, Castellina

Classic Trasqua lightning, purity of red fruit for Castellina incarnate, well matured being from the ideal 2019 vintage. Yet as with the tradition of Trasqua time is the essence to define how this sangiovese (with four other grapes mixed in), they being five percent each merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and (3) alicante bouschet. Together all will travel, take it easy and in another year culminate at peak. Not sure this producer has crafted a better Annata in recent times, or ever for that matter. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Viticcio Chianti Classico DOCG 2020, Montefioralle

Well matured and by now ready to rock and roll sangiovese with just a few splashes of merlot to deliver an herbal dissolve through black cherry fruit and high acidity. A fine vintage for the Montefioralle estate, silken and cool, almost tarragon-minty and as stylish as it comes for the UGA. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Pruning at Il Molino di Grace, Panzano

Il Molino Di Grace Gratius 2019, IGT Toscana

Choosing not to compare Gratius to Chianti Classico at any level, let alone Gran Selezione, is wise and for several reasons. For one thing the blending in of canaiolo and colorino changes dynamics by setting and settling acidity, elevating pH and stabilizing colour. For more reasons check out the manual but here are the Coles notes. Gratius delivers two-toned liquorice, more direct solar radiated brightness, finer and yet less immediately understood structure and a chewiness that sets it apart. What matters is here is that Gratius is the representative for the single San Francesco vineyard and so it is a profound IGT ready, willing and able to become a wine graced with the Gallo Nero and labeled as Panzano. Two new Austrian casks will conceive 3,900 bottles going forward and the future is all about DOCG quality at the highest appellative level. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted February 2023

Il Molino Di Grace Gratius 2018, IGT Toscana

Feels like 2018 Gratius is in a bit of a dumb phase, like what can happen with pinot noir, especially from Bourgogne. This is not Iacopo Morganti’s favourite vintage of Il Gratius but this is the misunderstood child and it will bloom late, or again. While it feels a bit sleepy now (some would say old) it should be looked at in the light of mature and experienced. A prime sample of a single vineyard made in low quantities for what the land needs to say.  Last tasted February 2023

Bottled just before the Chianti Classico 2019, so just three weeks ago. A blend of sangiovese with canaiolo and colorino, as it’s its nature and privilege. The sangiovese is taken from the vineyard on top of San Francesco’s hill, adjacent the canaiolo and colorino vineyards. A limited (3-5,000 bottle) production, a wine that’s all about selection (from two vineyards) and elevating craft to the highest of Il Molino di Grace levels. Still sees some barriques but going forward the plan should be to age only in large casks. The chewiest and most textural of the wines, with sapidity and colour matching salinity, acidity and savour. Drama but one in complete control, that is Gratius. Drink 2023-2030.  Tasted February 2022

With Giulio Carmassi and Cosimo Soderi at Gagliole, Panzano

Gagliole 2019, IGT Colli Della Toscana Centrale

Could be labeled as a Gran Selezione but it began in 1993 as a Vino da Tavola with 10 percent cabernet sauvignon mixed into the Castellina sangiovese, changing in 2013 to only Panzano and as of 2018 it has been 100 per cent sangiovese. Comes from the Pietraforte soils but also some Galestro involved and in turn the balance comes about in a sangiovese round and at other moments squared. Accessible and conversely agreeable, more well rounded ultimately speaking and less about tension or grip. The kind of structure that is both sneaky and stretched so that time can only improve the experience. Two more years will really see it all come together. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted February 2023

Gagliole Pecchia 2016, IGT Colli Della Toscana Centrale

Called Pecchia since 1999, from a Castellina vineyard of the same name and a second block (closer to Fonterutoli’s Siepi). The name remains the same and yet since 2013 the sourcing is all estate grown Panzano, from a block at the top of the property on pure Pietraforte soil. Here from a most beneficial 2016 for a sangiovese that has matured quite a bit and yet the acidity is intense, the tannins solid as the hard rock of the vineyard and the ability to keep changing will surely be a thing of many more years to come. The mix of tension and resolution is quite there. An IGT of wisdom and also potential, stiff and solid yet singing with feeling based on experience and years under oath. Most intriguing wine that will become a Gran Selezione as of 2018. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Isole Delle Falcole Vecchia Vigna 2020, Toscana IGT

An apposite vintage to 2018 for this unparalleled field blend of sangiovese, colorino, canaiolo, ciliegiolo, malvasia bianca and trebbiano though since 1948 much has changed and more sangiovese planted means less interruption or intrusion from the gaggle of other grapes. Just as juicy and gregarious while also vertical and filled with old school tension but also charm. Mid-weight and also alcohol, approximately 14 percent but this is a valley of elevation and woods so freshness just fills the air. This is very special. The 2018 was just a bit loose by comparison. Tannin on the back end suggest waiting two years. Drink 2026-2033.  Tasted February 2023

Isole Delle Falcole Vecchia Vigna 2018, Toscana IGT

The plot was originally planted in 1948 to sangiovese, colorino, canaiolo, ciliegiolo, malvasia bianca and trebbiano. Hard to find a field blend like this anywhere. Twenty plus percent is original vines and the rest planted, but also restored in 1982. Emanuele Graetz re-planted 1,000 (sangiovese) plants in 2022. Spends 18 months in older wood and yes, this is what you would expect, though how could you possibly know what to expect? Produces only 6,000 bottles from nearly two hectares and the purity is so real, with verticality, some leathery maturity but much more so a juiciness that determines the true spirit of the wine. Is this ready? No, not quite but man you want to drink it. Clean, honesty and remarkably focused despite the potential for tohu vavohu. Picked on the 24th of September. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Isole delle Falcole Merlot 2020, Toscana IGT

Will be called Auré which stands For Maurizio and Loretta, owners of the property who have sold to Emanuele and are responsible for planting the merlot in 1978. Just six rows making 1,200 bottles maximum and one of the few old vines examples gone solo in the Classico area. I mean you have to taste this merlot to believe. Plenty of fruit but red with no tar, char or smokiness. Instead all perfume, picked a week ahead of sangiovese, nothing drying or leathery but just the sweetest textures, aromas and tannins. A great site and yes merlot is special for where it comes. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Monsanto Sangioveto 2017, Toscana IGT

As a reminder Sangioveto’s vineyard is called Scanni, sangiovese planted in 1968 by Laura Bianchi’s father Fabrizio and first harvested in 1974. Not sure these adept and adroit grapes have ever experienced a vintage like 2017 and yet Sangioveto defies the vintage’s absurd levels of aridity and heat by expressing freshness and exceptional acidity. Hard to believe how the essence of Monsanto’s San Donato in Poggio could be secured but ’17 succeeds with core clarity and tolerance. There is some caramel in the flavours but that’s only after the uncanny scent of prosciutto, salty and sweet, peppery and herbal. The vintage delivers purity and layers of fascination for the palate to absorb. High gastronomy Sangioveto indeed. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Monsanto Sangioveto 1990, Toscana IGT

When you reflect upon Sangioveto 1990 as a sangiovese 22 years post original planting and 16 after first vintage then you understand it was already an experienced sku. Consider 1990 as a great vintage in the Chianti Classico territory and now this original standard bearer of San Donato in Poggio quality becomes something deserving of your highest attention. Laura Bianchi’s father Fabrizio foresaw the best of the best from this block and to follow both 1988 and 1989 meant serious business. This particular bottle is nominally advanced, with earthy tones while affirmed of Sangioveto’s haute acidity and formidable structure. Tart fruit, citrus included, persistent intensity and salumi musk are all there. Though this bottle is not fully indicative of 1990’s quality it’s parts are brilliant, even if they don’t add up to the expected whole.  Tasted February 2023

San Fabiano Calcinaia Cerviolo 2020, Toscana Bianco IGT

A blend of 50-50 chardonnay and trebbiano, honeyed in hue both by some days of skin contact and some advanced maturation at nearly three years of age. Only sees stainless steel. Can’t miss the terpenes and orange pekoe tea while acidity is quite prominent in delivery of lemon and orange through promiscuous flavours. An absolutely unique take on Toscano Bianco that startles with its freshness and how expectation turns to incredulousness. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

San Fabiano Calcinaia Cerviolo 2019, Toscana IGT

Cerviolo Rosso is composed from cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot, an ironic name for a wine considering how many grapes these little deer will consume in any given given vintage. Raised only in tonneaux and one of the few IGTs with no sangiovese though before 2012 there was some in the mix. The idea was to separate from Gran Selezione when that appellate category became part of the portfolio. This dates back to 1986 and here from 2019 the tannins are fierce, the fruit black and the connection thick as thieves. Man does this need years to resolve though the ripeness is light years ahead of the recent past and the style is all Calcinaia. Drink 2025-2031.  Tasted February 2023

San Fabiano Calcinaia Cerviolo 2014, Toscana IGT

Same blend (as seen going forward to 2019) of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot just a few years after sangiovese was removed from the mix. This from what was seen at the time as a disastrous vintage and yet time has been kind because first the lowest of low quantities due to stringent selection meant that only top berries were used. Second, time has helped in ways it just can’t effect after the warmest of seasons. This is settling in nicely with a recent relent of tannin but the swarthiness is purely Calcinaia and so with age there is a most obvious connection noted between this Bordeaux blend and the Cellole Gran Selezione. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Tentute Squarcialupi Galaverna Metodo Classico Dosaggio Zero

The name refers to the ice that forms on the leaves of trees in winter. First sparkling wine for Squarcialupi made from malvasia bianca, two months on the fine lees in tank followed by 18 more in bottle. No dosage ”an experiment 100 percent because you don’t find sparkling wine made from malvasia in Chianti,” says Cosimo. Dry and delicious, of great fruit matched by equal and opposing acidity. Picked a month ahead of when it would be were it used in table wine with a potential alcohol of 10.5, translating to approximately 12 percent (minimum) at the end. Straight citrus, linear and richer than might be imagined. Impressive first effort leaving lime and tonic at the finish. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted February 2023

Tenute Squarcialupi Chardonnay Rugiada 2021, Toscana Bianco IGT

From a vineyard at 600m, the highest of Squarcialupi’s 33 hectares, made with two different selected yeasts. First a non-Saccharomyces strain, then after there days a Saccharomyces is added. Goes through malolactic and then stays on lees for three months, in tank. Snappy, green apple style chardonnay, grippy, linear and of a fine citrus line, namely lime. You really feel the calcari at the finish. A difficult place to cultivate because of the Alberese but more so the Colombino, less yellow and much harder ock predominating a limestone soil. Fantastic length. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted February 2023

Tenute Squarcialupi Dama d’Ambra Vinificazione in Amphora 2021, Toscana Bianco IGT

A varietal malvasia aged in amphora, normally picked in the second half of October, less fresh and spirited as compared to chardonnay. Fermentation happens after de-stemming and crushing, in amphora with skins for six months. White balsamic, lemon curd and “for us it’s a white wine not just for fish but antipasti and pasta with white ragù,” tells Cosimo. “It’s a light red wine.” This is the third vintage, no longer just an experiment but now a going concern. Fine bitters, savoury botanicals, dry tonic, fino, green olives and a perfectly pleasant balance. Very well made. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted February 2023

Caparsa Rosato Di Caparso 2020, Toscana IGT

A selection of 100 per cent sangiovese, 48 hours on skins, no saignée, only run-off juice. Feels so pure and natural, sour tart, candied rose to sweet basil with a pause at pink grapefruit. Far from your dry and pale Provençal style but arid and intense in its own special way. Drink 2023-2024.  Tasted February 2023

Caparsa Rosato Di Caparso NV, Toscana IGT

The most basic of Paolo’s sangiovese, non-vintage here but in reality it is mostly 2019. Some years there is more blending involved, especially if a cold vintage is at the centre. Seasoned and a little bit spicy, simpler drinkable and finishing at herbs, both fresh and dried. Drink 2023-2024.  Tasted February 2023

Caparsa Amphora Di Caparsa 2022, Toscana Bianco IGT

Direct from amphora, trebbiano and malvasia, fermented and rested together for five month to six months, unfiltered, bottled with sediment. A tisane of lemon grapefruit and pekoe, so very tannic and of a salve texture though slippery, sliding away and not leaving its paste trailing and sticky behind. Still so young and not really in any real charming stage. Promising. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Caparsa Amphora Di Caparsa 2021, Toscana Bianco IGT

A Bianco from amphora, made with trebbiano and malvasia, fermented, aged together for up to six months, unfiltered, bottled with sediment. Always a tisane, now a year in bottle showing as a honeyed lemon and orange lozenge, decreasingly tannic, settled and ready. A finer vintage as compared to 2022, seamless, graceful, silkier and alluring. There is fantasy and emotion in 2021. Perhaps 2022 will develop a similar personality with a year in bottle. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted February 2023

Caparsa Bianco Di Caparsa 2019, Toscana IGT

A mix of trebbiano and malvasia but just fermented on skins for a few hours, pre-dating the amphora methodology. Apple and lemon jelly, simple, fresh somehow still and far less interesting than the amphora whites that will follow. Drink 2023.  Tasted February 2023

Mimma 2019, Toscana IGT

Mimma could have been Chianti Classico, it could be Gran Selezione, dedicated to “all the girls of the area,” says Paolo in all earnest seriousness, hand-picked grapes by Paolo’s wife Gianna and daughter Fiamma. This is the flagship, small production less than 2,000 bottles, grapes from all over the vineyards, picked in the middle of harvest, during the second pass. There is a restrained intensity in this sangiovese and it does indeed make you think. That’s important, It means Gianna and Fiamma get it. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Filippo Bianco Frizzante Metodo Classico

Made by Paolo Cianfiero’s son Filippo of 100 percent sangiovese, oxidative, energetic, citrusy and pretty fucking delicious. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted February 2023

Castello Di Verrazzano Sassello 2000, Toscana IGT

Like the 2004 Riserva there has been less evolution in 2000 Sassello, the sangiovese that will eventually become the first of two Gran Selezione for Verrazzano. There is certainly more concentration and compaction but the freshness is astounding and the generosity so appreciated 22-plus years forward from vintage. Top quality acidity season bar none. How can we not envision up to five more similar and ten full years of good drinking from this Sassello? Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted February 2023

Terreno Professore (Screw Cap) 2020, Toscana Bianca IGT

Made with petit manseng and roussanne (90 percent), plus (10) malvasia bianca and trebbiano, harvested mid-September and aged in wood for 11 months. An experiment to look at screw cap versus cork that Sofia and Giacomo are hoping will answers some questions. Well – what can you say because the wine under screw cap is tainted while the wine under cork is singing. Filtration issue? Cap liner problems? Bottled at the same time however so it’s a mystery.  Tasted February 2023

Terreno Professore (Cork) 2020, Toscana Bianca IGT

Made with petit manseng and roussanne (90 percent), plus (10) malvasia bianca and trebbiano, harvested mid-September and aged in wood for 11 months. An experiment to look at screw cap versus cork that Sofia and Giacomo are hoping will answers questions. Well – what can you say because the wine under screw cap is corked while the wine under cork is singing. Filtration issue? Cap problems? Bottled at the same time however so the issue must be with the cap somehow. In any case this is a most curious and frankly delicious white blend, rich and viscous with just a hint of barrel induced flintiness. White flowers and honeysuckle with a glycerol aspect to make it seem richer than it is in terms of residual sugar, so let’s say 2.5-3 g\L. Lovely mineral-metallic finish with lime and tonic. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted February 2023

Good to go!

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WineAlign

Grande, Chianti Classico

      Tasting through 175 Chianti Classico DOCG from the last three vintages confirms the territory’s ability to consistently achieve another level of quality

Passport to Chianti Classico

In February I made the annual pilgrimage to Tuscany for the Chianti Classico Collection to taste through a few hundred examples of the local sangiovese, a perennial workload that is my pleasure and indeed, my privilege. Feel free to scroll down past the next few thousand words to read the reviews. I have been repeatedly fortunate to take in the renowned history, food, olive oil and vineyards but most importantly have been the forged relationships with so many producers and custodians of what is affectionately called the Gallo Nero. At this time travel for work and also pleasure remains unknowable and it will be this way, at least for the immediate future. All of us have to wait and see when the next visit can be possible, to again take in the hills and landscapes where Italy’s most important grape variety is grown. That is why the partners at WineAlign have joined virtual hands with the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, Chairman Giovanni Manetti, the producers and sangiovese to orchestrate a different kind of sensory experience. They created an opportunity for the region’s wines to be delivered directly to the consumer’s doorstep. Two unique Chianti Classico mixed cases, each a masterclass in a box. A second set will follow in late summer/early fall.

The Passport cases are a culmination of years of learning, tasting and hard work. They are the first of their kind for WineAlign and the 12 wines chosen are foremost a decision made collectively after the critics each sat down to taste dozens of examples. The wines are also an extension of what new facets and nuances about Chianti Classico’s sangiovese John and I learned in Florence back in February. For me that continuing education goes back several years now. Since May of 2016 I have made nine visits to Chianti Classico and tasted more than 1,700 different wines. In February 2017 I was honoured as an official ambassador by the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico. I take my role as ambasciatore to heart and feel the profound weight of the title and the endearment. It is a great professional honour to speak, write and educate on behalf of the region but the work and the messaging from and for the farmers, producers and the land is a two-way street. The people who bottle Chianti Classico are shepherds of place and I, along with many others, act as messengers of their wines, but more importantly, their story. We all take this journey together. The sentiment is a shared one, the relationship symbiotic and the feeling entirely mutual. And so the Passport Cases are a product of much thought, purple teeth, blood, sweat and joyous sangiovese tears.

Since 1716 Chianti Classico has preserved the unique qualities of its native land and soils and it is the Black Rooster that protects the wines from all imitations.

Chianti Classico Consorzio President Giovanni Manetti

Sangiovese and the quality pyramid

Sangiovese. The grape that defines Chianti Classico. Other endemic grape varieties may or may not augment the wines; canaiolo, colorino, pugnitello, malvaisa nera and others. So too might cabernet sauvignon, merlot or syrah but at the heart and the crux (at a minimum 80 per cent to qualify for DOCG status) of the matter there is always the local and unwavering sangiovese. Then I would imagine many of you are wondering about the levels of appellation that make up the tiers of Chianti Classico’s DOCG pyramid. There are three, Chianti Classico DOCG, Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG and Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG. Each and every bottle that is made from 100 per cent grapes grown in the delineated Chianti Classico area is stamped with the Gallo Nero, a 304 year-old symbol of guaranteed quality for the territory. What separates the tiers is aging in barrel and bottle (12, 24 and 30 months minimum) but also thresholds for extract and alcohol. As a general rule the price rises as the pyramid is ascended but some Annata (as they are referred to) can be more expensive than Riserva and vice versa. Same goes for each of these levels in relation to Gran Selezione, but for the purposes of simplicity, for an estate that bottles one, expect the GS to be at the peak of importance and also cost the most. For others the traditional Riserva or perhaps a self declared cru rises to the top. Keep in mind that Chianti Classico is a region of vineyards farmed by single estates. You need to get to know them, one at a time. We all want to compare apples to apples but one producer’s silver may be another’s gold.

PDO Olive Oil is a guarantee of quality

Partnerships also travel across commodity lines and one of Italy’s most symbiotic affairs lies within the joint ventures of Chianti Classico DOCG and Olio DOP Chianti Classico. The two are inextricably linked, not just by territory but by a shared passion of estates. Winemaker and Olive oil producer are in so many instances one in the same. While many consumers don’t know the difference between a PDO oil, an Italian extra virgin oil, and non-Italian or even non-extra virgin olive oils, there are profound reasons to care. Looking at price without understanding the real value of a PDP product is key to the message.

Start with preventative benefits and a healthy lifestyle. Two spoons a day of Italian extra virgin olive oil, or better still, PDO oilcan prevent serious illnesses. Some Italian doctors have proved that oleic acid creates an anti-inflammatory barrier that can prevent, for example, some forms of tumour from growing. The Food and Drugs Administration (USA), also maintains that oil is, to all intents and purposes, a “medicinal food”, if it contains at least 70 per cent of oleic acid: Italian extra virgin olive oil certainly does. But although this information is easily accessible to everyone though multiple means of communication, there is still a great deal of confusion and even ignorance surrounding the oil sector.

The first organized (and voluntary) Consortium of Extra Virgin olive oil produced in Chianti Classico dates back to 1975. From the beginning this structure defined strict regulations to obtain a traditional, fine quality product. In the year 2000 oil produced in the Gallo Nero hills obtained European recognition with PDO certification, thanks to those very specific chemical and organoleptic features that link it inextricably to its terroir of origin. Twenty years on, PDO Chianti Classico olive oil is still a small niche production of very high quality.

Gallo Nero Lounge, Chianti Classico Collection 2020

Regulations and the 2019 harvest

The fruit must be processed within three days of harvesting, in temperature-controlled conditions. All PDO Chianti Classico oil is cold-extracted and the processing temperature may not exceed 27°C. Yields may vary from 2-3 kg per tree, depending on the number of olive trees per hectare (but it is actually much lower). As with sangiovese for DOCG wines PDO Chianti Classico must include at least 80 per cent of olives from the four main varieties grown in the production zone; frantoio, correggiolo, leccino and moraiolo. The year of the olive harvest must always be shown on the label. Lastly, it must correspond to certain chemical and organoleptic parameters which are an improvement on and/or more selective than those for non-PDO extra virgin olive oil.

In 2019 the total quantities were hugely affected due to the weather and compared to the previous year’s harvest PDO Chianti Classico suffered a 75 per cent loss of oil destined for certification and 50 per cent of non-certified extra virgin oil. Despite all this organoleptic qualities were high, showing the pleasant, piquant hints of fresh and aromatic herbs on the nose, typical of Chianti Classico PDO oil and the bitter olive/raw artichoke flavours with a spicy finish of rocket, chilli pepper and black pepper. All these features are typical of Gallo Nero PDO oil, and of the terroir, problematic for olive growing but generous in the complex sensations it offers.

Stazione Leopolda, Firenze

Come on up for sangiovese’s rising

When we look retrospectively back at the last seven vintages in Chianti Classico the upward trend in quality argues in favour of the law of increasing returns. Producers have invested time, money and hard work, small farms have moved from home-gardening to professional vignaioli and larger estates have ticketed block-specific projects to compliment commercial continuity. Chianti Classico’s agglomerated return is more than proportionate to investment. Any graph will show the rising, from market share through qualitative studies of ripeness, extract and balance, to critical praise across the board. Writers everywhere are on the bandwagon, circling the region with written hyperbole in recognition of the good becoming great with a kind of religious and spiritual belief.

Chianti Classico Ambassadors, 2020

Vintage reports

The 2013 vintage saw great variabilities, first from the weather, in spikes and storms, then in the resulting wines of which no two seemed the same. The “blood orange” vintage I like to call it and the first in recent memory to really speak of sangiovese’s great complexity, multiplicity and diversity. What followed might have ended things altogether and prevented the current streak from continuing. The 2014 growing season was fraught with challenge; inclement weather of frosts, rain and cool temperatures, not ideal to make impressive and strutting sangiovese, but producers hunkered down and their mettle tested, showed what experience, acumen and forward thinking could produce. Like 1998 and 2008 before, 2014 was and still is a vintage of sneaky structure.

Sommeliers of the Chianti Classico Collection

Then comes along the easy, breezy and close your eyes year that is 2015. Virtually no climate hurdles and wines that make themselves. Is ’15 one for the ages? In a word, no. Will these sangiovese drink beautifully and defend cellars everywhere from bottles snatched, their corks pulled and the wine spilled too early? In another word, yes. All wine regions need a 2015 in the throes of enigma and glory. That’s where 2016 fits in, after the calm and before the storm, or in the case of 2017, the fire. The 2016 vintage was about as perfect as it gets, allowing sangiovese to fully ripen at 600, 650 and even more meters above sea level, to turn vineyards in places like Radda, Ruffoli, Lamole and Monti into veritable Edens. The wines of 2016 are glorious and structured. They will live in infamy, respectfully, without grandstanding, low and slow in development, long into a sangiovese night. This is where Chianti Classico became the future.

John Szabo M.S., a.k.a. Il Professore

It may have rained some in the last months of 2016 but after the calendar turned there was no precipitation until the beginning of the second week in September. Imagine what the berries looked like on vines before those rains. Picture the desiccation, consider the sugars and know the unevenness of phenolic ripening. Once again the farmer’s imperative for digging deep to trust intuition became paramount to save the vintage. Patience encouraged those sangiovese clusters to swell and take advantage of three blissful weeks that followed. Warm by day, cool at night, phenolics hitting their peak. The sangiovese of 2017 are singular and in the most concentrated wines their tannins are really something, at times dire, aforementioned in terms like “so-called death squads.” At the base of the appellative pyramid they can be consumed early but as a general rule, the higher you climb, the wider the gap becomes and the longer you may need to allow for the structural components to settle in. A complete about face comes with 2018 in Chianti Classico of grace, understated beauty and ease of drink-ability. They are a fresh collective breath of sangiovese air, a break from adversity and a set of wines to enjoy in advance of another vintage that will bring yet another step up in quality and ultimately glory.

If nine were eight

In Chianti Classico we break the territory down by commune. Chianti Classico will always come first but in all of Toscana only it is possessive of such distinct communes. I am not alone in truly believing that the sangiovese changes from commune to commune. Even recently it may have been far too difficult to say that each commune has a specific set of characteristics, but with so much good wine on the market the qualifying of definitions is becoming clearer and easier to do. The sangiovese made by each producer are in fact singular and surely related to the soils, however complex they may be, within the boundaries of their commune.

Through to December 31st, 2018 there were nine communes. Greve in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Castellina in Chianti, Poggibonsi, San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Barberino Val d’Elsa and Tavarnelle Val di Pesa. On January 1, 2019 Barberino Tavarnelle became a new commune, thus reducing the total in Chianti Classico from nine to eight, by merging the municipalities of Barberino Val d’Elsa and Tavarnelle Val di Pesa. The joining is one of fourteen mergers of municipalities in Tuscany approved in recent years. These days of writing feature articles about a place within a commune inside a territory tells and potentially schools us about something highly profound. Riddles, mysteries and enigmas are now yielding to solutions, comprehension and understanding. The special nooks in Chianti Classico are geographically defined pockets where vineyards and villages align for organized, like-minded production and same-belief system marketing.

With Dario Cecchini and Nadia Fournier

The territory is commonly divided by commune but its tiers of structure do not end there. There lies within more specific sub-zones, zonazione, places of interest where microclimates and shared geologies bring land and producers together. Five of the nine Chianti Classico communes have their own Associazione Viticoltori or Vignaioli; Castellina in Chianti, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Gaiole in Chianti, Radda in Chianti and San Casciano Val di Pesa. San Donato in Poggio has also banded together within their commune of Barberino Tavarnelle. Greve is the notable exception because the precincts of Lamole, Montefioralle and Panzano in Chianti have each formed their own associations. These three exist inside the greater neighbourhood that is Greve in Chianti. Panzano may not be the only sub-zone of its kind but at this triennial level of the place within a place, within a place pyramid it is arguably the most unified and defined frazioni of all.

Chianti Classico Collection 2020, Stazione Leopolda, Firenze

The reviews

Which brings us to the wines. In February I tasted and reviewed the following 177 examples of sangiovese. Please feel free to advance forward to the DOCG level and vintage you wish to read about by right-clicking on their WineAlign-linked sub-headings.

Passport to Chianti Classico: Case #1

Passport to Chianti Classico: Case #2

Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 (31 Notes)

Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (50 notes)

Chianti Classico DOCG 2016 (13 notes)

Chianti Classico DOCG 2015 (2 notes)

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2017 (12 notes)

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 (32 notes)

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015 (6 notes)

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2014-2004 (5 notes)

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2017 (8 notes)

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016 (16 notes)

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015 (2 notes)

Chianti Classico DOCG 2018

Badia A Coltibuono Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 ($29.02)

Tasted with Roberto Stucchi from a tank sample ready to be bottled. Stucchi reminds of the 220mm of rain in August which causes a déja vu Gaiole reminiscence for me going back to August of 1995.  A wet and auspicious start fasts forwards to a a happy ending. So fresh. Light yes but back up the truck and imbibe with reckless if joyous abandon. You just want to drink this while Roberto quips, “and present it as Grand Selezione.” Wink wink, nudge, nudge for the tongue-in-cheek gamay of sangiovese vintage in Chianti Classico. Shine sangiovese shine. Drink 2020-2025.   Tasted February 2020

Bibbiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 (168286, $23.95)

The brightest Bibbiano to date is this 2018 from Tommaso, ripe to ripest and with an extended cappello sommerso feel to the glycerin fruit. Crunchy in as much as you could want, very Castellina (or at least Bibbiano’s two-pronged valley within) and perfectly positioned as a Chianti Classico sangiovese of character. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Cantine Bonacchi Chianti Classico DOCG 2018

Fresh sangiovese from Castelnuovo Berardenga and quite heady in its rich constitution with a wooly character and sneaky thick texture. There is a sour if supportive edging to the acidity and it rolls right along with the fruit. New version of old school if a label needed to be put on what this is. Still crazy after all these years. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Buondonno Chianti Classico DOCG Podere Casavecchia Alla Piazza 2018

You need to consider the micro-climate of these terraced vineyards of Casavecchia alla Piazza in the heights of Castellina at the western limit of Panzano’s Conca d’Oro. ’Tis a weightless weightiness, a crafty way to compose sangiovese with energetic blood orange winter lightness of citrus being and to make for a wild ride in Chianti Classico expression. Big and invisible simultaneously while conversely stretched, elastic and regaling. You must taste this to not understanding but smile trying to do so. The only living boy in Chianti Classico. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Carpineto Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 (356048, $19.95)

Classic Carpineto, savour in and out of every red fruit poured pore, sip and savour. Long as a Greve in Chianti summer’s day and so worthy of carrying across and through several winters. Keep warm with this comforting and soothing Chianti Classico. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Castagnoli Chianti Classico DOCG 2018

Extreme brightness of Castellina in Chianti sangiovese in Castagnoli’s 2018, tightly wound and crunchy herb and earth crusted, tart and properly focused on both its intentions and the small lot crafting it purports to tell. Good story right here and one worth knowing. Drink 2021-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Castellare Di Castellina Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 (970095, $24.95)

Solid work in 2018 from Castellina’s Castellare, fresh as you might desire and developed to a starting point that’s ready to enjoy as the words are spoken. Structure is somewhat sneaky, more so than initially realized. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Ama Chianti Classico DOCG Ama 2018 ($34.95)

Forget about launching points for 2018, Castello di Ama’s is the whole matter, all points 360 degrees on the compass covered, at the beginning, through the middle and extended at the end. More than just a fresh face there is a density of fruit-acid circling on the palate and then this slow simmering warmth developing late, later and latest. “I never, never wanted water once.” Quenching. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Querceto Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 ($24.95)

Quite the startling and striking sangiovese from Querceto’s Dudda Valley in Greve vineyards from 2018. Real savour over fruit attack, short perhaps of full glycerin though no slouch in terms of macerated texture. Just a touch, if properly volatile. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Volpaia Chianti Classico DOCG Volpaia 2018 (953828, $28.95)

In terms of 2018 this from Volpaia is one of the harder vintage Annata to crack and in fact the traditional construct speaks to sangiovese’s need for time. A crunchy exterior protects the soft and layered interior to double down on suggestions that say wait five years before diving straight in. You of course can enter this Radda sanctum earlier but 2024 or 2025 will see the beginning of true glory. The worth will prepare, support and enrich the wait. Volpaia’s is truly one of the most structured Annata for the vintage. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted February 2020

Vicchiomaggio Chianti Classico DOCG Guado Alto 2018

Guado Alto is indeed a high level Annata and spoken in upwardly mobile tones for Greve sangiovese. Rich as ’18 can thrust upon fruit and then really wound acidity that strides and even sings baritone along. Big wine, very red and layered with the tops of them. The smallest and the the first of four Vicchiomaggio cru that provides for only 50 hL (6,000 bottles). Drink 2021-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Coccia Giuliano/Castellinuzza E Piuca Chianti Classico DOCG 2018

Perfume of an ulterior sort, not just exotica but also something sappy, resinous, oozing even. Pine and more herbology than many this speaks to Lamole certainly but even more so altitude and all the Mediterranean shrubs that grow at altitude. Also speaks to wind and aromatics flying hither and thither. Such parochial stuff oh my. Drink 2021-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Colle Bereto Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 ($31.95)

Radda perfume for sure and certain, but the most pertinent aspect to note and ultimately take away from Bernardo Bianchi’s 2018 is architecture. His is structured Annata that cries for patience and expects to be at best three years forward from Anteprima. The fruit content and variegated intermingling with the structural parts is elastic in its seamlessness so you can envision a ten year or more development before real secondary character interjects. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted February 2020

Journalist taste at Chianti Classico Collection 2020

Famiglia Nunzi Conti Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 ($27.95)

Floral and candied aromas, rose petal and a liquid, San Casciano Galestro melted and stirred into red juice. Quite juicy and liquid chalky in fact. Simple, quite pretty and very drinkable straight away. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Fattoria Cigliano Di Sopra Chianti Classico DOCG 2018

From a place (San Casciano) that gifts perfume but in the most savoury of ways. There too is a deep red darkness to the fruit and here the full advantage of 2018 is taken into consideration. Everything here is done with acumen intention, including maceration, pressing and extraction. The redundancy effects the outcome, restricts the subtleties and brings immediate gratification. Fourth vintage for the estate’s young winemakers and expect two steps forward from 2019. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Fèlsina Chianti Classico DOCG Berardenga 2018 (730788, $29.95)

Fèlsina’s Berardenga is a fully developed 2018 with massive attack of the greatest generosities offered and with zero inhibition. Crunchy, Castelnuovo fluff-earthy and in a world where “you drink my wine, so why don’t you make your world mine.” Trouble moves away with a sip of this ’18, leaving a feeling of warmth and settled intensity. This will develop remarkable secondary attributes in only ways Fèlsina can. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Le Miccine Chianti Classico DOCG 2018

Subtly aromatic, seemingly brushy, forested and mountainous in origin. Gaiole in fact, surrounded by olive groves and plenty of cinghiale housing woods. You can feel the wood and the woods in the way it smothers, exhales and reels you in. Very rich and highly irascible in its voracious meatiness. Singular expression to be sure. Drink 2021-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Fattoria Di Luiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 ($24.50)

This is perhaps the most approachable, amenable and refreshing Luiano ever made by the unflappable Alessandro Palombo. Beautiful wine here made by the man with the mitts, the maestro from San Casciano. Fruit first, fulsome, flying and mouth-filling. What else needs to be said? Perhaps that this will live in a certain kind of infamy, to be opened in 2055 at which point Palumbo will taste, shrug and walk away. Drink 2020-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Brogioni Maurizio Chianti Classico DOCG 2018

Big, deep and low-toned sangiovese is just this, having taken full vintage advantage for the great welling effect. Dark, purposed and attacking. Leaves everything on the table, securely weighted and fastened. From Greve. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Monte Bernardi Chianti Classico DOCG Retromarcia 2018

Let’s talk about the passion. Let us discuss the care, the careful consternation and the vineyard work that leads to something so effusive, effulgent and expressive. Let’s consider this southern Panzano perfume. Once we have exhausted all the shadowy hyperbole we can then begin to understand how Michael Schmelzer builds or rather stands back and watches as his sangiovese constructs itself. The present and the future are right here. Drink now, then and forever. Would love to see this in 15 years, or perhaps more. Drink 2020-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Monteraponi Chianti Classico DOCG 2018

There can be no denial or denying the knowing, no lack of understanding in fully accepting a Radda height accessed, performed and used for full effect. Sangiovese knows how to make über plausible use of its hillside altitude and by association the forested surroundings, but in certain cases it requires a sanctimonious winemaking intuition and that right re dihere is the crux of Monteraponi’s situation. A corner of Radda expressed by Michele Braganti in ways no one else may try and as such, exercised as it must be. This is Chianti Classico for what it is. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted February 2020

Podere Poggio Scalette Chianti Classico DOCG 2018

If ever a Poggio Scalette adapted to, extended from and celebrated a vintage it is this from 2018 that hyperbolizes the context. Richesse like never before or perhaps memory serves short and blinders allow for new beginnings at every time and turn. Big sangiovese for Ruffoli in Greve here from Jurji Fiore and one that speaks to what can happen at heights in warm times. A bit apposite to expectation and causing some wild thoughts. Need to re-visit this time and time again. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Poggio Regini Chianti Classico DOCG 2018

Quite resinous and sappy sangiovese, reminding of Lamole but without the accompanying floral perfume. A touch beyond, on top of and reaching over the subtle line. Fine enough and better to drink this young. From Castellina in Chianti. Drink 2020-2021.  Tasted February 2020

Riecine Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 ($28.95)

Fully conceived, attacked and modernized sangiovese in the brightest red fruit vein, of berry mixed with red lightning. Amazing Gaiole vineyard gives life to the 21st century. Fabulous acidity and freshness from the hands (or lack there) of Alesandro Campatelli. Structure creeps in and confirms without conforming to any static standard or typicality, in mixed levels of attack. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Rocca Di Castagnoli Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 (222810, $19.95)

Full on attack from warm, ripe and concentrated 2018 fruit defines Rocca di Castagnoli’s 2018. This brings and delivers the whole lot of goods right from the top for immediate enjoyment. Total extraction to throw every iota of acidity and available tannin into the mix. Acts youthful and wise at the same time. Terrific three to five year Annata that expresses everything at once and all the time. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Rocca Di Montegrossi Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 ($34.95)

Monti in Chianti is gathered, accumulated and condensed into this Annata with extreme prejudice. That which is left to the imagination in the work of Marco Ricasoli Firidolfi is sottosuolo, in the Galestro of his Gaiole vineyards. Not that the ’18 is less than intense because Marco’s sangiovese takes nothing for granted and leaves little behind on the canes, spurs and leaves of his vines. It’s all here in this Annata, boasting of great confidence and every rock that can be bled into sangiovese’s varietal lifeblood. Extreme tightness of acidity and structure for to speak of freshness, protracted towards potential. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted February 2020

San Fabiano Calcinaia Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 (234308, $21.95)

Quite heady and excitable Castellina here in San Fabiano Calcinaia’s Annata out of 2018. Crunchy, classically rustic, in request of patience, time and the need to wait in bottle. Pretty traditional and fresh stuff right here for you who like what style of Chianti Classico you’ve known, seen and wish to continue drinking. Drink 2022-2026.  Tasted February 2020

San Felice Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 (282996, $19.95)

The most extracted and distracting sangiovese comes from San Felice and in 2018 the fruit is met, matched and driven by the barrels from whence it came. What a full bodied, throttle and concentrated Annata this is, truly, unabashedly and completely. The hands of Leonardo Bellaccini go all out to brings even bigger parts for the all in example. Drink 2020-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Tenuta Casenuove Chianti Classico DOCG 2018

From the southwest corner of Greve in Chianti, southwest of Montefioralle and close to Panzano. Modish and modern for 21st century sangiovese is just this, stylish, chic and highly motivated. Quite fully developed and felt red fruit of glycerin, pectin and mouthfeel but you want more and more. Impressive magnitude in bringing so much fruit into the mix. Not overtly high in acid or tannin so use this early and often. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted twice, February 2020

Terra Di Seta Chianti Classico DOCG 2018

Reductive and peppery stuff here from Kosher Chianti Classico producer Terra di Seta in Castelnuovo Berardenga. Quite representative for the capabilities of the commune in warmth, strength and early tension. The shell needs to crack before the charm may spill forth. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Panzano

Vallone Di Cecione Chianti Classico DOCG 2018

Newfangled and old-school actionable in simultaneousness Panzano activity, an entanglement of classic sangiovese and colorino in a web of reductive meets candied shell beauty. Very tannic in a surprising turn away from the fast and furious fruit welling. Wait for the twain to be met. Drink 2021-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Bindi Sergardi Chianti Classico DOCG La Ghirlanda 2017

Such a pretty, focused and far from enigmatic 2017 is this comforting sangiovese, the floral and sweetly perfumed La Ghirlanda from Bindi Sergardi. Yes it’s an expression of Castelnuovo Berardenga but so much so a feeling of Mocenni, at least in great part. Also peppy, wryly and with a devilish smile, like an ironic Leonard Cohen song. “Is this what you wanted?” Not to worry, La Ghirlanda is not haunted by the ghost of you and me. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Borgo La Stella Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Warmth and altitude combine for Radda beauty in a modish sangiovese so much more fine than beast. The earliest onset of drinkable recognition comes straight from the charm of this well-made wine. Cracks the whip quickly to solicit structural notes for a fast interaction with fruit to find an immediate and insistent coefficient of existence. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (23325, $16.95)

The warmth and the development make this the most approachable and get me now sangiovese you ever did encounter. Well done for 2017 in that the fruit was allowed to develop its phenolics across a broad spectrum of high yield vineyard fruit. Solid reasoning and seasoning makes this work. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Ca’ Di Pesa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Burrone 2017

Quite wildly aromatic this from new and exciting Ca’ di Pesa with a deeper set of structural values than the initial fruitiness would have led you to believe. Just feels like a conglomerate bleed, full of Panzano Galestro, Alberese and even a streak of wispy Arenaria running through like dark cherry in its veins. Very impressive indeed. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Cantalici Chianti Classico DOCG Baruffo 2017 (403733, $24.95)

Deep feelings from this Gaiole sense of sangiovese wonder. All that 2017 can gift is settling in with comfort, warmth and the R.E.M. subconsciousness of a Chianti Classico dream. Richly fruity, layered, dramatic and fine. Finest modern day Annata from the house in a vintage that makes the result even more impressive, poignant and important. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Caparsa Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

In bottle from a tank sample and essentially a finished wine yet bottled. Picking started on September 19th. Quite heady for 2017, full of all the acids and Caparsa tannin that came of 2016. Lively sangiovese with drive, structure and one of the greater abilities to age. There’s a perpetual triangle of motion and precision that keeps the drive alive. An Annata in Radda that clearly benefited from the heat of the vintage. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted February 2020

Tenuta Carobbio Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 ($33.60)

Tank sample – a finished wine but not yet bottled. The 2017 Annata from Carobbio comes as such a surprise, a complex equation identified with the sweetest tannins imaginable. Really quite unexpected, fresh and feels silky in the mouth, clearly one of the finer ’17 Annata’s produced. Structure’s candle may not hold up to the vintages that came before but that does not seem to matter. Don’t think too much, just drink this one and thank Dario Faccin for making it this way. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Castelvecchi Chianti Classico DOCG Capotondo 2017

Classic Radda and savoury, dusty and quickly reached sangiovese for Capotondo and exacted as would have been expected. The traditional quotient is reached, breached and put into full effect. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Casa Sola Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

From Barberino Tavarnelle. High tonality and dusty, reductive and closed young sangiovese. Pressed and picked early with heat and kept acidity though somewhat greenish tannins and not wholly formed phenols. Needs time and then not so much. Drink 2021-2023.   Tasted February 2020

Casale Dello Sparviero Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (10358, $17.95)

Such a big and polished wine, like something out of reach neither in the immediate nor in the deep past. The barrel is everything and yet nothing at all. Fruit swoons and hides behind the wood and waits in wings, static, without wings. Strong and not far from balsamic and cedar notes of the next stage to quickly come. Drink 2021-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Casaloste Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

A subtle, quiet and reserved Annata from Panzano’s Casaloste, a bit in demure and not the 17s of many other. That said there is plenty of fruit traction and interaction. The warmth of the year is noticed, the pepperiness exaggerated and the acidity quite the same. Pretty big and boisterous. Drink 2021-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Castelli Del Grevepesa Chianti Classico DOCG Clemente VII 2017

All sorts of fruit collects and weighs down in this attacking sangiovese, of tart raspberry, strawberries red and green, currants and a spice masala that speaks to sources here, there and everywhere. Savoury dried nuts, meats and cures make this complex if a bit all over the place. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Della Paneretta Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 ($24.00)

San Donato is Poggio orange, hematic and of a specific tang and that makes for a notably distinct and obvious sangiovese. This aromatic recognizability is comforting and conditions the palate to accept the reality that one need’s to pair this wide open red so that it and all feel supported. Fresh pasta ands cinghiale would do right. Such a proper version of ’17 for the frazione. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Albola Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (339937, $19.95)

Albola’s 2017 is one of the deepest sangiovese expressions, more flavourful than aromatic, fully formed, developed and realized. That means the vines, vintage and veins run deep in Radda’s blood and the feeling is of deep concentration. Nothing is left on the table. It’s all in the glass. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti Classico DOCG Cavaliere d’Oro 2017 (219808, $18.95)

If the all-purpose Chianti Classico is what you seek from 2017 and for immediate gratification than you have arrived and that can be pronounced unequivocally. This is a Mercatale-San Casciano in Val di Pesa beeline straight to the right place. Crisp, clean, fresh and elastic fruit speaks of the grand time and place. Warm and inviting with a concrete freshness that does what needs. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Radda Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 ($22.95)

Quite bright and effusive in 2017 there’s a feeling of the gentle and the comforting in this from the Castello di Radda. The liquid chalky texture is a bit distracting while the wine strolls uncaringly along. A bit aloof and unremarkable but surely no offence meant or taken. Happy is a glass in hand. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Verrazzano Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 ($30.45)

Such a unique aromatic expression here from Castello di Verrazzano and the pattern is becoming a thing of great consistent beauty. The judgement is sound if nearly spot on from a challenge and so the structure supporting makes for a resounding drink of sangiovese speciality. Very impressive for the year. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Monterinaldi Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (383604, $19.95)

The bulk of the juice ferments and ages in concrete vats and a mere 20 per cent sees time in old barrels. A house that travels from strength to strength says so much about the supporting cast of characters that have elevated the game over these last three vintages. Just as this has happened you wonder what will come next. In the meantime this ’17 walks lightly, speaks confidently and pours a charming glass of deliciousness. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Tenuta Cinciano Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Pretty wine here from Cinciano, ripe and really acting out the vineyard play of multi-faceted sangiovese coming together for a seamless estate expression. No holes, plenty of charm and more than what is needed from varietal, vintage and place. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Conti Capponi/Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 ($31.78)

Hard to imagine how a 2017 Chianti Classico can raise the bar across all its constituent parts as this from Conti Cappone is able to effect. The level of primary meeting intellectual notability is well, notable. Fruit rises up to meet acidity and acidity to rise for the challenge of sweet tannin., The bond and the chain is unbreakable. In Annata. No less. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Dievole La Vendemmia Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 ($23.95)

A sweet and salty liqueur from Dievole’s 2017 with all the layers that great modern aging vessels can gift. A highly skilled effectuation and subsequent result gives this Annata such a drinkable and amenable feeling. Very polished and chic wine right here. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Fattoria Di Valiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (354019, $19.95)

A wide array of fruit qualities come together with hope, dreams and anticipation. Along with the pressing also comes a reductive and slightly baritone note thats speaks to the style as it repeatedly goes out, seeking love. It will find some, in time and for a few good drinking years. Drink 2021-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Fattorie Melini Chianti Classico DOCG Granaio 2017 (395145, $19.95)

Candied florals, a sour note with hard-pressed fruit and brittle tannins. Plenty of wood and a tough nut to crack. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Lamole

Fontodi Chianti Classico DOCG Filetta Di Lamole 2017 ($36.95)

Un unmistakeable moment begins right away with I Parfumi di Lamole, forging an immediate connection by way of aromatic emissions from the always suave and conversely strengthening Filetta from Fontodi. The vintage is both fortifying and also hyperbolizing for the frazione and with this stellar house’s ability it just comes out equal and right. So long and never dissipating. Drink 2022-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Fontodi Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (933317, $39.95)

Equally if oppositely aromatic to the Filetta from Lamole and so properly judged, with wood less interested in taking over the project in this vintage. The production seems to have taken a step away and just allows the lightness of structure to mellow along with the litheness of being. Great decision making puts this in a league of its own. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

I Sodi Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (435123, $18.95)

Ripe and relatively pretty sangiovese from I Sodo, a touch pressed but within reason. Goes for all the marbles early and so that is when you must make use to pair, match, sip and enjoy. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Il Molino Di Grace Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (85209, $24.95)

Recently bottled and more than a pleasant surprise because 2017 is a vintage that you had to make exaggerated adjustments then wait to see if the chances taken would lead to positive results. For Il Molino di Grace the proof is in the depth of fruit expression but also in the consistency, or rather the torch taken and growth forward. The best 17s are those that adapted to challenge, adversity and were willing to change. In that way they resemble themselves and add new breath to the light that is sangiovese. Here Annata shows off idiosyncrasy, complexity and multiplicity. As fresh as 2017 can be with enough structure to keep moving forward. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Il Poggiolino Chianti Classico DOCG Il Classico 2017

The savour and dustiness of sangiovese coupled with a challenge are on display from this deeply rendered wine. Il Poggiolino’s is not uncommon for the vintage and the fruit is dug in so deep, into ripeness and the earth. There’s surely a dried component, both fruit and herbs but also acids and tannins in their tight angles. Will settle a bit and drink well for three years. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Isole E Olena Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (704346, $34.95)

The vintage sends sangiovese in so many directions, some into the well filled with simple fruit and others over the wall into ultra-savoury territory. Paolo di Marchi’s does both and more. There’s a freshness and a depth to the not so serious but oh so serious conflagration. What’s special is the supple and actionable structure, of acidity embracing and unproblematic tannin. Works like an Isole e Olena Annata should, with imaginary Riserva folded in, with all stones rendered and all points looking north. Drink 2022-2031.  Tasted February 2020

Lamole Di Lamole Chianti Classico DOCG White Label 2017 (476317, $24.95)

A solidly constructed Annata from Lamole here with some advanced features that have it drinking well at exactly this juncture. Tart and rich in converse relationship but conjoined as required. Well made and a triumph for the estate. “Had to keep walking” to find the amazing. Sensei Lamole. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Fattoria Le Masse Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Very pretty wine again from Le Masse with greater acids and bigger tannins than many. That this was accomplished without too much consternation or pressed aggression is a true testament to all facets of the process. Commendable in many ways. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

L’erta Di Radda Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

A wild berry sangiovese if ever there was one from Radda and clearly a vintage matter coupled with the want of L’Erta to happen. So much fruit substance and not exactly a drive to age. Matters not in cases such as this. Crushable as a result. Drink 2020-2021.  Tasted February 2020

Montefioralle Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Expect Montefioralle to deliver something other at all times but especially from this. Expect the unexpected, the idiosyncratic and the unusual. Look out for the beauty from things even if you have little frame of reference. Then take in the Damson plum and the dusty tannins. Most of all don’t be shocked at the acidity that can only come from Lorenzo Sieni’s parochial sangiovese.  Last tasted February 2020

Dry vintage, full fruit, deep red, almost out of cherry and into plum, better acidity than some of its ilk and says Lorenzo, “not greens tannins.” Agreed. Quite silky, almost glycerin and long. Well done Sieni, well done. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted September 2019

Monterotondo Chianti Classico DOCG Vigna Vaggiolata 2017

One of the tougher sangiovese nuts to crack, Gaiole or otherwise and yet this Vaggiolata vineyard Annata is so very brushy and bushy Chianti Classico. This maker is that kind and the heart is soft beneath the stony exterior. A perfect example of Chianti Classico needing time to enter the fields of agreeable and charming. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Podere Capaccia Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Things turn brighter in a sangiovese like this from Radda, not so much lighter as one from which fruit can shine. Light in terms of tannin but sneaky enough to elevate and extend. More chew than crunch in a pressed fruit roll-up carnival of the heart ’17. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted February 2020

Podere Cianfanelli Chianti Classico DOCG Cianfanello 2017

Quite a boat filled with sweet and herbal notes are part fruit and part tannin though less so in terms of acidity. A bit soft that way even while the grains keep things seized at present. Drying late in that way and not ready to say three words, like yes, now and integrate. Drink 2021-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Podere La Cappella Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

A little bit of San Donato in Poggio goes a long way into defining a special sort of Chianti Classico with this by Podere La Cappella a prime example. The white Alberese is herein always a factor with the orange so deeply sensory and frankly distracting. In a good way to even better so think about fruit and acids as one with the strength to receive and work alongside structure. Rich 2017 here.  Last tasted February 2020

Sangiovese with merlot in two and three year old botti and barriques, to be bottled in two weeks. Smells like Colombino stone, licked by rain with the fruit at its highest La Cappella promise. It’s never been this rich or full but sapidity will always streak through these wines. It reminds me of really high quality mencìa, in a way, piqued by toasty spice, juicy and ready for great meats and roasted vegetables. Drink 2020-2028.  Tasted February 2019

Poggerino Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 ($26.75)

Almost always set at the centre of the heart, of richness and hematic depth. The warmth and development of Piero Lanza’s Radda sangiovese are never to be underestimated nor should there ever be shock from the accumulated results. They are made exactly as the vineyard and the vintage dictate. And they are in balance. This 2017 falls right into line. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Poggio Al Sole Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Tons of fruit and fruit pectin content in Poggio al Sole make for a delightful if quite sumptuous 2017. There is nothing light or lacking here and in the short term it’s a good a bet as you are likely to taste. Not all vintages and every estate need to provide structure. Seek, find and imbibe. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Fattoria Pomona Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

The way of Pomona is carefree and natural yet knowing and exacting. The Castellina in Chianti sangiovese here may seem at ease, mellow and even soft but it can bite if it so chooses. The fruit sources are wise, the chance they are afforded high and the way the slow build careens then slides is magic. Few Chianti Classico can do what this can. Get to know the plan. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Francesca Semplici and Riccardo Nuti, Fattoria Montecchio

Fattoria Montecchio Chianti Classico DOCG ‘Primum Line’ 2017

From 95 per cent sangiovese with colorino, picked smartly over the course of September, if a bit variable the stacking and layering saves and fills, covers and extends so that the middle palate gains flesh and the tannins are ripe enough. Going strong.  Last tasted February 2020

Spring frost has resulted in minuscule quantities from a very young vineyard (though 22 years of age). Pretty impressive for Annata, with enough freshness to balance the weight and the sheer presence of this wine. This is the Premium (Primum) alternative to the original and much larger production Chianti Classico DOCG. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2019

Quercia Al Poggio Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Vineyard truths are spoken in a San Donato vernacular with exceptional grace and humility. This is a bit richer and pressing than might have been ideal so the tannins are somewhat brittle and drying but the overall togetherness is more than proper. Finds the ways to reach back for more when needed and to hold back when necessary. Mostly in balance as a result. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Querciabella Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (728816, $48.95)

The Querciabella warmth and relative hedonism is on display in 2017 but knowing what a year or two can effect on this sangiovese is so essential to looking at them in their youth. This 2017 will turn into one of the finest of the territory for two most important reasons. A collection of grapes from more than one commune source and a stringent sorting process that pulls out then combines the best. The tannins are really fine here. Let it rest and look for the great relish between five and ten years on. Drink 2022-2031.  Tasted February 2020

Renzo Marinai Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Deep, hematic, rich and also ferric. This fully extracted and concentrated sangiovese brings it all up front, centred and with furious haste. Gives everything now and for all to want. Wants for nothing moving forward so use it, abuse it and don’t pause too much in case you are thinking to cellar and then reuse it. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Risotto, Caffe dell’Oro, Firenze

Ruffino Santedame Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (523076, $19.95)

The advantage in vintages like ’17 is clearly one enjoyed by larger estates because moving fruit around for cuvée speciality makes blending the crux of the matter. And so Ruffino’s is a well-managed, masterly arranged and all purpose Chianti Classico. This is a time to try Ruffino’s beautiful Annata. It will not disappoint. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Val Delle Corti Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Welcome to Roberto Bianchi’s wonderful world of sangiovese foraged, forged and formed by a cappello sommerso beginning. Creates a texture that captures Radda and the new Chianti Classico from out of the ashes of a hot vintage and a really old Piedmontese technique. Nowhere can locked in freshness and texture combine for such great effect. Dramatic and grounded, each with as much necessity as feeling and time will dictate. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Vecchie Terre Di Montefili Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Not so many reductive sangiovese in 2017 and those that are tend to be peppery with brittle tannin. Not the case in Vecchie Terre di Montefili’s as the shell protects freshness without compromise to safety. Aromatics therefore come through the cloud and talk in floral tones. This sits elevated at a lovely precipice but not so high as to extend volatility above and beyond the fruit. Organic, from Panzano and truth be told no other sangiovese smells as exotic as this. Just delicious and will age really well. A highlight of the year. Bravissimo. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted February 2020

Vignamaggio Chianti Classico DOCG Terre Di Prenzano 2017

The middle of the road is properly taken for a 2017 Annata of medium bodied notability. Hard to say what the winner is but going with fruit is a good bet. Acids and tannin are a bit soft and a bit hard, neither really winning or losing. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Villa Di Geggiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 ($35.95)

Truth be told this 2017 from Geggiano persists as a youthful and too early to call Annata. The particular Galestro and Alberese in these micro-climate championed western wing of Castelnuovo vineyards make for some of the communes most charming meets structured sangiovese. Why should the heat and the challenge effect anything otherwise. So much here, so many levels of Chianti Classico to unfurl. Drink 2022-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Viticcio Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (283580, $23.95)

Beautifully drinking 2017 Annata with a Montefioralle smile and charm. All the adjustments have been made so that acidity fully supports, surrounds and extends the fruit. Some tannin at the finish but thankfully quick and not the point that matters most. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Giulia Bernini, Bindi Sergardi

Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Bindi Sergardi Chianti Classico DOCG Ser Gardo 2016

The newer of the two Bindi Sergardi Annata is Ser Gardo, taken from vineyards on the producer’s I Colli Estate. Dedicated to Niccolò Sergardi, a.k.a. Sir Gardo, Governor of the city of Siena (1530) and guardian of the city. I Colli gives way to the IGT (Achille) and this Chianti Classico off of stony, calcium carbonate soils rich in Alberese. Epitomizes the Bindi Sergardi-Castelnuovo Berardenga cherries and roses freshness. If lighter then great, if sneaky structured even better and it is those roses (mixed with nasturtium) in an imagined spice that comes from chewing on fresh petals. Ripe, 2016 and intensely satisfying. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Caparsa Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Caparsa, name of the estate and the main house. One hundred per cent sangiovese aged mainly in cement. A straight ahead and crunchy Annata with a noblesse and a natural accountability that speaks in Paolo Cianferoni’s body language. Still a touch aggressive and yet the acid-tannin structure is quite impressive. Also tasted from a bottle open four days ago and truth be told the difference is negligible at most.  Last tasted February 2020

Lovely glycerin and elastic sangiovese not without a generous component from barrel. A touch of greenish tannin from that wood but plenty of fruit to swallow it up, or at least will do so in time. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted September 2019

Tenuta Carobbio Chianti Classico DOCG 2016 ($33.60)

Stop in here for a rest and exult in the near perfect grace, charm and collective soul in the heart of an Annata. To say that the Novarese family and Dario Faccin should feel the greatest sangiovese reward from this appellation would be a grand understatement. This version of Panzano and Chainti Classico DOCG is what it is, what it can and must be. Should be. Has to be. Richly glorious and confidently understated. The cleanest sangiovese and the one that speaks most succinctly of the land. These are the reasons why Carobbio is the most underrated, but for how long? This ’16 will see proof to that and so much more. Drink 2021-2031.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Bossi Chianti Classico DOCG C. Berardenga 2016 (994608, $22.95)

The push-pull of conversion takes richesse and melts it into firm grip for sensations only a ’16 of such style can drift. The cherries of Chianti Classico are so magnified in maceration and liqueur, so much so this may just be the dictionary entry. Wild and so full of energy as if this were not Annata and yet not quite Riserva. Wow from this wine. Drink 2020-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Monterinaldi Chianti Classico DOCG Dall’Anno Mille 2016 (383604, $19.95)

Five months in there is really not a huge amount of movement to speak of save for a rise in energy that indicates this Annata is coming out of its slumber. It also means that six more months should really see it blossom, flower and sing.  Last tasted February 2020

A huge leap in quality for the Radda producer, clearly a sign of work put in the vineyard and steps towards making the right, correct and delicious local sangiovese. A really textural wine and of really fine acidity. Molta buona. Drink 2019-2023.  Tasted September 2019

Castello Monterinaldi Chianti Classico DOCG Vigneto Boscone 2016

The single vineyard at the top of the hill at 450m is the Alberese dominant site for this stunning sangiovese of concrete and barrel, but the treatment is just about as hands off as it gets. The vineyard was planted in 1988 and these 28 year-old vines at the time are surely in their prime. Yes time is important but the actionable gestures are already playing with our emotions and tugging on our heartstrings. Such a focused wine. As a reminder there is no Gran Selezione produced at Monterinaldi and so think about the isolated cru in the best vineyard making this wine. Just think about it. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Fattoria di Valiano Chianti Classico DOCG Poggio Teo 2016 (250563, $17.95)

A solid Annata in 2016, fruit already moving forward in development, acidity hanging strong and tannins melting in. One of the more silky, creamy and chocolatey of Chianti Classico. Well-made to be sure and offering plenty of maximum consumer friendly pleasure. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Il Barlettaio Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Quite an extracted and well-pressed 2016 from Il Bartellaio that has steamed straight ahead and come into drinking window view. Take this and use it now for best results. Solid sangiovese to clear the senses and begin anew. Drink 2020-2021.  Tasted February 2020

Lornano Chianti Classico DOCG 2016 (211599, $18.95)

Lornano is one of those Chianti Classico estates that requires patience, both from its makers and its buyers. The soils and the compounding elévage work insist that the wines remain in bottle before revealing their charms. This 2016 is exactly one of those wines that speak to the manifesto. The fruit is here and the possibilities are long and endless. Wait to embrace them. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Losi Querciavalle Chianti Classico DOCG 2016 ($19.95)

Talk about time. Losi’s sangiovese demands it, insists it be granted and brings beauty when we are properly listening. The Alberese remains in charge and the fruit is aching, waiting, nearly ready to bust out. So crunchy and chewy in simultaneous rumination, so cherry hematic and full of vintage wealth. One of the estate’s best Annata to date. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Piemaggio Chianti Classico DOCG Le Fioraie 2016 ($29.99)

A remarkably rich and layered 2016 from Piemaggio, full on with impressively concentrated fruit. The cherry ooze and chocolate melt are unrelenting, coating the palate with each subsequent sip. Leaves a mark in many coats. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Tenuta Perano Chianti Classico DOCG 2016 (10360, $24.95)

The white and grey clay plus fine decomposed Galestro soil mixes with great 2016 promise for one of Gaiole and the greater territory’s most polished ’16s. Almost too good to be true and in just Frescobaldi’s second vintage. Almost feels like a peak has been reached so the question is, how far can this property go. Sky’s the limit? Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Villa A Sesta Chianti Classico DOCG Il Palei 2016 ($23.99)

Lovely wine from the kids at Catelnuovo’s Villa a Sesta in 2016 with so much grace and beauty. Not that this has been lacking before but this takes a wonderful step forward. Helps to wait another year to taste the pure cherries and the fine liqueur. Has really integrated and is ready to roll. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Chianti Classico DOCG 2015

Castell’in Villa Chianti Classico DOCG 2015

The wait is almost over and the opportunity nearly upon us to seek and find what grace comes from Castell’in Villa’s Annata 2015. There are few peers that require this much attention to detail and patience but it is the Principessa Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa who demands that she ands also we do this. The estate gifts sangiovese from so many plots, blocks and micro-climates and yet we still must wait for these parts to come together. They are and in rhyme will only slide in for the ultimate glide, in time from fruit, herbs, wood and in the fineness of what lives. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Pruneto Chianti Classico DOCG 2015

Developed dried fruit resides in Radda space, oxidative and old-school. A charmer with a very specific style. Know what it is. Spice all over the finish, both from wood and in that dried drupe. Drink 2020-2021. Tasted February 2020

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2017

Buondonno Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Casavecchia Alla Piazza 2017

Gabriele Buondonno’s 2017 is what you might refer to as a tour de force, a recklessly controlled gangly and gregarious mulch of ripe fruit and massively structured maintenance. That it maintains its poise is remarkable considering the heft and the fortitude. Warm spot where these vines grow and so there was no avoiding the sun in this torching vintage. So young and far from innocent, fruit so priceless and anything but precious. Let it ride for a while. Drink 2022-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Castellare Di Castellina Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2017 (508507, $29.95)

So much cherry and so little time. Not the biggest expression of Castellina though surely one of the most effulgent there is. Rich in the faux sugary ways of sangiovese from warmth and in youth. Drink 2021-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2017 (705335, $40.00)

Quite reductive for a sangiovese from Volpaia and so indicative of what the land requests, matched be the efforts of the team. A liquid white pepper pique is so unique, so interesting and so much the catalyst to create the lift and the character. The possibilities for changes through the aging process are of a stronger potential here than from so many 17s, though time remains for the results to be seen. Real length from this high altitude sangiovese purports to promise that Volpaia’s ’17 Riserva is in true Radda form and charm. Drink 2022-2031.  Tasted February 2020

Fattoria Di Fèlsina Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Rància 2017 ($55.75)

Few Riserva can seem so far away and yet so close to within reach. Rancia would have survived the 2017 crazies as unscathed as any, of that there can be little doubt. Quite reductive and youthfully challenging the matter here is one of no holds barred and options yet unexplored. The mild astringency is perfectly normal and Rancia Riserva will find its way out. Bank on it. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted February 2020

Il Molino Di Grace Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2017 ($29.95)

Only from the upper vineyards closest to the cellar, one of the more pristine Riservas, of freshness, purity and clarity that Molino di Grace sangiovese did not used to show, but changes have led to this. You don’t think about the transitions or the structure because they just present themselves effortlessly and seamlessly. A remarkably fresh ’17 that was picked late, on time and best decisions were made in the cellar.  Last tasted February 2020

Wow ’17 Riserva could handle waiting until 2021 to be released. So grippy, such acidity, so much concentration and while quality is exceptional still the vintage quantities are so low. A number in and around 40 per cent of normal. Wooly tannins, so in control and very fine. Remember there was also a frost in May that decimated the vines, followed by three months of intense heat. Vineyard management and the most pragmatic, accepting and realistic team in place made sure to do everything right. “Corretta” to the nth degree. As is this organic and biodynamic Riserva. Drink 2021-2029.  Tasted September 2019

Luiano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2017 ($39.95)

Luiano’s ’17 Riserva is a bad boy, a troubled youth of rebellion and great strength, its frontal cerebral cortex not yet fully formed. Massive attack of fruit and tannin, not to mention natural acidity of another mother. Really wants to see you and be with you, ‘but it takes so long my Lord.“ Hmmn my lord. What a formidable San Casciano Riserva, still full of innocence, searching for its elegance. May turn out to be one of the best. Drink 2023-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Marchese Antinori 2017 (512384, $49.95)

Quite reductive and yet relenting for an Antinori Riserva with a dollop of cream silkening the formidable fruit and its shellac of structure. This is ’17 at the height of warmth and everything else that makes the vintage one of great interest, To some the tannins could be seen as unrelenting and more than challenging for balance. That they are yet when they give in the fruit should be at its peak. Drink 2022-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Monte Bernardi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2017

“I’m happy with our 17s but I don’t know that i would classify them as Monte Bernardi wines, in fact Retromarcia was missing 50 per cent of its fruit due to frost.” The honesty of Michael Schmelzer. That said it’s as delicate and pretty as it gets for the vintage and while a bit of an anti-Riserva so to speak, I have to beg to disagree because the mild swarthiness is very recognizable, comforting and always lends to energy and excitement in the wines, especially when they are young. What wan’t necessarily noted in Monte Bernardi’s Annata that shows in Riserva is the silky and elastic woolliness of the texture and the coating tannins. This is a most unique expression of Panzano and the vintage, a coagulated, hematic and crunchy earth-driven sangiovese with some of the finest varietal tannins around. Crisp and taut, fresh and promising with a long future laid out ahead. If Monte Bernardi is what you seek, this will satisfy your every desires, and your means. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted February 2020

Poggerino Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Bugialla 2017 ($45.00)

Another hefty and balanced piece of Radda sangiovese heaven here from the Bugialla label, a Poggerino sign of true reality and success. A Riserva of the land, of the vineyards and of specific blocks, rows and vines. What tannins these are, demanding, of a time, certainly a vintage and a place. Make ‘em as they are given to you, That’s what winemakers like Piero Lanza do. Drink 2023-2031.  Tasted February 2020

Riecine Chianti Classic Riserva DOCG 2017

Such a fine liquid intensity with deeply sensorial acidity makes Riecine’s 2017 an unmistakably dramatic one. You have to appreciate the lightning fruit matched against the savoury herbal Gaiole backdrop and the sheer luminosity that brightens the fruit. This is a formidable Riserva but for reasons not usually noted. In a world and a class of its very own. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Rocca Delle Macìe Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Famiglia Zingarelli 2017 (930966, $24.95)

Rich and so developed, a Riserva for the people and one to hang an early hat on. So many have to wait but the Zingarelli is telling you the time is now to seek enjoyment. While the unapproachable ones work their way through trials and troubles this Famiglia will welcome you to the table. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Rocca Di Castagnoli Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Poggio A Frati 2017 (23358, $32.95)

Poggio a’ Frati is consistently layered with all its categorical character, beginning in the soil and finishing in the glass. Never overbearing and always filled to the tang in prim brim with ever-bearing berries. Quite tannic this 2017, less than ready, impressively structured and fashioned in a Gran(d) way of design. Could easily slide appellative categories, up, down, side to side. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted February 2020

With the brothers Boscu Bianchi Bandinelli

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Cantalici Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Baruffo 2016 (541078, $32.95)

Ahh, that Gaiole essence. The hills, the bush, the things that grow, all the scents and perfumes. All found tucked under the arm and laid beneath the skin of this glorious sangiovese. Carlo Cantalici is surely proud of this 2016 and he has pressed his fortune for a ticket to longevity. The wine is almost ready, almost but not quite. “Under my thumb, the girl who once had me down.” Won’t be for long.. soon the change will have come and it’s down to Baruffo. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Capannelle Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Few Chianti Classico Riserva exhibit this combination of heft and also hard to get demure. Mildly smoky and with a tar-roses-char like some nebbiolo and more so because of the gangly wood spice and tannic thrush. Big wine with years to go before the herbs and the grains relent. The fruit needs to be patient and hope holds for that to happen.  Drink 2023-2027. Tasted February 2020

Caparsa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Caparsino 2016

If you can’t smell and taste the Galestro soil specific to Carparsa’s corner of Radda than you may need to heed a bit more attention. There’s an elegance and a fortitude mixed with a fine sour cherry that makes this singular, specific and a wine that mimics the place. Very structured, acids sharp, pointed and fine, linearity sure and trustworthy. Clean, finessed and definite with all the organic, natural and compost plusses kept in mind. Carries all the necessary bones and attributes to arrive at a seven year mark up to double that time. Inimitable saltiness that’s not really noted anywhere else.  Last tasted February 2020

From Paolo Cianferoni on a 12ha Radda estate at 450m. A citrus note lines the aromatic front, almost white grapefruit but also bleeding red, of pomegranate and red currant. Lovely mid palate, pure and purely ’16, with purest Radda acidity and chaste laser focus. Great attention to detail in the vineyard is more than apparent, translating with utmost unalloyed and unsullied clarity straight down through the glass. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted September 2019

Caparsa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Doccio A Matteo 2016

A single-vineyard Riserva from the plot above the smaller second house called Caparsino and filled with all the soils; argile, Galestro and Alberese. Surely an absolute about face expression with higher volatility and a high, near and nigh potential for advancing porcini notes. A deeper and darker black cherry. Characterful and mature in such a different way, The acidity is uncompromising even while the wine acts oxidative with more wood than the other Riserva. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Carpineto Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 (47118, $29.95)

The classic Carpineto way, done in the vein of ancients with a look to the future. There’s a high tone running amok with a toast of the fruit and a plum maceration deeper down. High level acidity and “you can’t disguise” the type of work done here. Tell me lies? Not so much. The truth in clarity of a Carpineto CCR is always spoken. Drink 2021-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Casa Emma Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

A San Donato in Poggio vernacular comes closer into view with this Riserva from Paolo Paffi. The orange is studded with aromatics and the local limestone runs through every vein. It also bleeds from every pore before talking tannins and the probabilities for a long future. Tightly structured wine here, compact, versatile and voracious in its virtuous pursuit to eat, drink, sleep and extoll the vintage. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Della Paneretta Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Castello di Paneretta strives for clarity and purity from a gorgeous vintage that could have allowed for more depth and density. The decision to stay clear of overdone and overwrought is a beautiful thing and so much pleasure is our fortune. Lithe, open, fragrant and sumptuous. A Riserva reserved strictly for drinking. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Bossi Berardo Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 (113316, $38.95)

A Riserva from Bossi is one that makes so much sense in what we’ve come to expect from the appellation, that is sweetly rendered fruit, spice primarily oak derived and great punch. A crunchy Riserva this is, taut, tight, tannic and worthy of time. Give it that and more. The fruit is 2016 after all and from the great wide open Castelnuovo Berardenga space. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 (719864, $34.95)

Great godly perfume, San Donato to the nth degree, welling and simultaneously rising. The glass is full no matter the quality of the contents, the texture filling and seamless, the extension forever forward. What you have is the portal into Il Poggio and know this. That Riserva and that Gran Selezione can and must be extraordinary and off the charts. The launching point here seems plenty great enough for all combined and concerned. Drink 2023-2031.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Verrazzano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 ($49.60)

Deep Riserva from Verrazzano in 2016, full of all things driven, ambitious and tonal. Volatile at this stage because of a reductiveness multiplied by fruit liqueur that can’t help but rage. Really needs to settle and become itself. For now there’s angst and intensity. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Vicchiomaggio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Agostino Petri 2016 (993360, $29.95)

The appellative category is looked at, considered, scrutinized and a decision on its stereotype lands here. Petri is the cornerstone and the exactitude, especially for Greve in that it just acts in ways you expect there to always be. Earthy crunch, crusted fruit, herbs, Amaro and sweet tannins. Drink this early. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Colle Bereto Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 ($41.95)

You really do need to pay a visit to Colle Bereto’s slice of the amphitheatre pie in their sector of Radda in Chianti because the soil, expositions and micro-climate beg for this response. How else to try and understand the tenderness and desire multiplied for such high level and full-bodied result. Few if any combine richness with elegance, mid-level volatility with down to earth sensibility. Clear and animal magnetic together. It’s remarkable. Drink 2022-2032.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 (216309, $24.95)

Come and get me is the quick, early and olive branch extension from Castello di Gabbiano’s ’16 Riserva with all the Mercatele in Val di Pesa confluence that can be jam packed into one voluptuous bottle of sangiovese. Plenty of stuffing and deep red flavours, into plums and a clafouti full of softened berries. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Monterinaldi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Dall’Anno Mille 2016

The Riserva is a highly refined wine but it is not wood that makes it this way. Concrete is the order of the way that wines are refined, with some old barrels and some amphora. No it is the vineyards the cause this Riserva to act so polished and stylish with so many herbal and woodsy hints it flashes before your nose, brain, taste and eyes. As a reminder there is no Gran Selezione produced at Monterinaldi and so think about the Riserva as being the wine of best selection and has always been this way. Hard to find a reason to change. Perhaps soon from another set of parameters (including concrete eggs and amphora) and vines.  Last tasted February 2020

Lovely vintage in Riserva form for Daniele Ciampi, of fruit sweetly developed, ripe and effusive. Full extract, tang and force all combine to grip the palate and keep it all swimming upstream. Drink 2020-2027.  Tasted September 2019

Castello Monterinaldi Chianti Classico DOCG Amphora 2016

From a tank sample. The in process sangiovese with no name that includes quite a compliment of concrete eggs and amphora raised fruit. Fermentation as with the others one year in concrete vats and then to the new vessels which could become the Monterinaldi answer to Gran Selezione. The fruit sources are part Boscone and part Riserva sites that are in the middle of the hill below the borgo. Same silk texture, same stylish classicism and yet the brushy, fennel savour is somewhat lost. Same but different and in this opinion completely worthy of the Gran Selezione appellation. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted February 2020

Conti Capponi/Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 ($43.95)

Still a youthful, closed and reductive 2016 in Riserva form there is a whole helluva lot going on in Capponi’s wine. Wooly, swarthy, volatile, uninhibited and nearly exhibitionist from all there is to nose and in showing its natural self. There’s something of a missive vernacular far from soft spoken in how this acts like whole bunches redacted in unstoppable fermentation. Like a waterfall rush of flavours, textures so wild and so free. What have you done here Sebastiano? Gotta give in and try, put some away and see if you can figure out the reasons why. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted February 2020

Famiglia Cecchi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Villa Cerna 2016 (14200, $29.95)

Proper, rich and savoury, very soil driven Riserva, ubiquitous in that it speaks for a large set of parcels and remains focused. Chewy with fully developed fruit sets, some dried sweetly in leather jackets, some perfectly ripe and yet to advance. A verdant note mixes in. All there, layered and at times disparate but complex as needed. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Fattoria Montecchio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Fashioned from 95 per cent sangiovese with a richness that reaches peak San Donato. Elevates so much so it speaks to layering, variegation and intention. Warm, inviting and alleviates any concerns about nervousness or undue tension. So carefully extracted, crafted and exacted. A house in flux of experimentation and the pushing of boundaries moves from strength to strength. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Il Palagio Di Panzano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 ($39.95)

A warm and fuzzy Panzano feeling felt straight away, humid, spicy, Galestro instructed. Some pretty serious tannin, weight, magnitude and a considerably deep impression. Quality with high acid notes acting as a foil to the formidable thing of it all. Bigger that ’15 in so many respects. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Istine Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Levigne 2016

Levigne from Angela Fronti delivers a duality that talks in a vernacular made of more than a commune. The concept is Gaiole meets Radda and each has its say though their mingle and intersectionality layering clouds the distinction in the way you’d hope they would. There’s a softness and a brut strength behind the exterior that tells something conceptual and educational is happening. Forget light, bright and easy. Bring on the ambition, the execution and the swagger. Drink 2023-2032.  Tasted February 2020

Le Fonti Di Panzano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 (282921, $44.95)

The full compliment fills Le Fonti’s 2016, led by a purity of vintage fruit second to none and a fineness of aromatic spice that repeats with delicate bite after you taste and let it linger. So subtle and balanced, danced with agility and poise. A wonderfully understated and stealthily structured 2016. Remarkably delicate. Truly. 20 years easy. It’s the good shit from Guido Vitali. Drink 2021-2034.  Tasted February 2020

Ormanni Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Borro Del Diavolo 2016 (435149, $44.00)

So you say you want a feeling for how things once were, how there was a time when steeping in tradition made for comfort, understanding and nobility. So you want to taste sangiovese with the intuition of ancients but you want crisp, clean and pure. So look to Ormanni, dual commune citizen, Poggibonsi meets Barberino Tavarnelle soil and climate. Big and gracious this is, magnanimous and generous too. Drink 2022-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Podere Capaccia Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

The bright light and fresh face of Capaccia is something exceptional, exciting and new. So much fruit and rose petal emits from the nose and while comparing sangiovese to other important grape varieties is neither necessary or my style I have to say that the Premier Cru (Nuits-Saint-Georges) feeling of this fruit can be imagined in pinot noir terms. Rarely do I feel the need to do this but this Riserva takes me there and then comes home. Huge stride forward for the estate. Drink 2022-2032.  Tasted February 2020

Poggio Torselli Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 ($29.95)

Just what you might, would and will expect from a 2016 Riserva in the hands of Poggio Torselli, leader for the modern San Casciano. Silken, sweet fruit filled, creamy, soft oak and mellow. A menthol note runs through and cools. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted February 2020

Quercia Al Poggio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Surprising or not the ’16 Riserva from small batch Quercia al Poggio is a pretty heady and serious wine, reductive, rich and a tough nut to crack. Plenty of wood sheathing at this very stage brings texture, silken and quite creamy. A whole lot of everything that will require time. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Querciabella Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Querciabella is entrenched deep in its roots in that Riserva is a true extension of Classico, stylistically speaking. While there are moments of density and hedonism the grounded nature keeps it cool, calm and collected. The level of development is something that has begun but the low and slow process is born of a structural guarantee. Aging potential is really there. Drink 2021-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Renzo Marinai Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Once again the same 90 sangiovese with 10 per cent cabernet sauvignon mix, an extra six months in bottle with some barriques. More of the same, an extension from the Annata and with great consistency. Two peas in a pod. Wood off the top, spice, spicy and full of sultry notes. So specific to place and its just understood. Crafty Riserva with sweet tannin and an effortless swagger. Soft enough to begin drinking well in late Spring 2020. In Riserva the notation is a big wine, of big oak and with big plans that will take quite some time to unfold. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted September 2019 and February 2020

Rocca Delle Macìe Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Ser Gioveto 2016 (974964, $28.95)

Some Riserva need time and some are so fresh they beg to be had. Sergioveto is one unto itself, of a moniker that says I am a clone and a different sort of sangiovese. In fact the herbal and dried fruit notes mixes with graphite and incense make for a distinct Castellina affair. Drink this early and often for best results. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Il Grigio 2016 (716266, $29.95)

A Leonardo Bellacini sangiovese will always seek top ripeness and first rate barrel and so no shocker here. Reached the expected heights with 2016 fruit carefully crafted for best results. Leo did not press matters or go too far despite the vintage temptation and a really fine wine has been made. Classic, pristine and enticing. Drink 2020-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Terreno Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Greve is the source and Terreno’s gorgeous fruit comes from a Right Bank spot that warmed to the task in 2016. The silkiness and quality glycerin texture is so inviting and truth be told, born of fruit so pure and true. A highly polished wine with so much upside. Drink 2020-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Villa A Sesta Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Rich and high acid Castelnuovo Berardenga ’16 from Villa a Sesta, warming, caring and smooth. No fruit has been missed or harmed in making this lush and lightly spiced Riserva. Real quality and clarity with just a hint of local savour. Makes this the real deal. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Viticcio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 (599308, $31.95)

Montefioralle savour and development covers the phenolically parochial fruit for Viticcio’s well made 2016. Pressed for success, showing its full plume and locally developed flavours. Very much a sangiovese with a sense of place. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Paolo Cianferoni, Caparsa

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015

Caparsa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Caparsino 2015

Warm, inviting, broad shouldered but on the leaner side of muscular. Rich liqueur, fine tannins and here sharp acids. Crunchy Alberese and Galestro earthiness and real savoury as a textural ideal. Just drinking right well in the here and now. Use it up while waiting for the great 16s. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Lornano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Le Bandite 2015 (230672, $24.95)

Anyone who knows the Lornano oeuvre knows that looking at a 2015 Riserva so soon in its life is like looking at a stopped clock. Gets you thinking about wanting to leave. The zeppelin walls of tannic fortitude, faux reduction and rock led solid elemental credit are far from paying out. In this neck of the Castellina woods they make Alberese sangiovese the way they used to do. In five years time we’ll be able to say “I can hear it calling me back home.” Drink 2023-2031.  Tasted February 2020

Losi Querciavalle Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015 ($24.95)

Losi Querciavlle, bastion of one of the globe’s most impressive Alberese landscapes and home to some of this territory’s finest chiselled sangiovese. Like marble structures slowly formed by only those who know how to separate the form from the mass. This is the intuition Pietro Losi and his prodigies know and gift to the world. Give their wines time and you will understand. Like this ’15 Riserva, strong, confident, understated, perhaps yet misunderstood but surely pure and true. Bravissimo. Drink 2023-2033.  Tasted February 2020

Lunch, Terre di Seta

Terra Di Seta Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Pellegrini Della Seta 2015

A Kosher Chianti Classico Riserva made from 95 per cent sangiovese with cabernet sauvignon. Aged in tonneaux and barriques, half new. A smoky touch and very silky texture. A selection of grapes as opposed to the cru of the Gran Selezione. The first vintage was 2010 and while there persists the style of peppery reduction there too is a smoothness and a mentholated note to what happens when fruit hits wood. Sangivoese with agreeability, age ability and certainly a step up for the table when the category needs to be employed. Drink 2021-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Villa Di Geggiano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015

Now to introduce you to the Boscu Bianchi Bandinelli brothers, Alessandro and Andrea, two men who covet, own and articulate their western wing of Castelnuovo terroir. As custodians of these classic southern Chianti Classico Alberese and Galestro vineyards they have come to understand their nuance and their specialities. So, Riserva from 2015 now comes to its beginning having needed every bit of the extra two years in bottle it has received. Yes this Geggiano ’15 Riserva still needs time and if you abide by the premise it will come alive, surmise and in turn, surprise. In fact it will make a lasting impression and stay with you forever. Drink 2022-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Villa Trasqua Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Fanatico 2015

Villa Trasqua Riserva comes into its own no less than five years after vintage so the window of opportunity for pleasure seeking is really just now opening. The glimpse into what it can be reveals a recent school of stylistic thought, rich and extracted, full of concentrated sangiovese with a savoury edge. This ’15 is one of the warmest yet, resolute and resilient to keep moving with energy and constant speed. Riserva in the marathon, not the sprint. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2014-2004

Caparsa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Caparsino 2014

The quercetina vintage, from which vines protected themselves with flavinoid, anti-oxidant properties in response to solar radiation and changing weather. The crystals that form in the wines and on the corks are harmless and do not alter aromas or flavours and Paolo tells the world they are there. Funny because it was a cold and wet vintage. The Caparsa style, cool excitability, finesse and structure are here in the way they will be in ’16 albeit with more cool thoughts. Under appreciated and undervalued. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Caparsa, Radda in Chianti

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Caparsa Doccio A Matteo 2012

Lovely bit of development from a vintage of great fortitude and possibility though seemingly only recently softened. Now smooth tannin and yet so, so very sangiovese. The red fruit carries a liquorice note not noted in later wines and here the complexities are blooming, changing and renewing their vows. Lovely look back and easy on the volatility scale. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Ama Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2007 (1500ml, $115.00)

There is a depth here and a development that says ’07 will not last another fortnight though while it acts this way it will continue delving in the sort of secondary truffled and porcini notes that dole great pleasure. Solid start right here to a 13 year-old Riserva that is simply a treat to behold, wonder and nod in agreement at the 2020 Chianti Classico Collection. Drink 2021-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Poggerino Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Bugialla 2007

A warm vintage and Piero Lanza would say “similar to 2015,” higher in extract and well-developed phenolics. Has aged really well, the secondary notes fine and so closely recalling a dried strawberry mind. Acids are very persistent and strengthen the drying tannin and the longevity of this wine. Won’t travel another 13 years but should linger nicely for a few more. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Poggerino Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Bugialla 2004

While 2004 has aged considerably as compared to 2007 the style and character are so different you would almost think they are not linked at all. Deeper, stronger and of a plum fruit way, with balsamic and lightly truffled notes. More wood, wood spice and a brown butter nuttiness. The palate is staying alive with a Tuscan flavour that was the order of that time and eventually leaves the door open for a Raddese character 10 years forward to take its place. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2017

Castello Di Ama Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG San Lorenzo 2017 ($48.95)

The first of the so-called death squads to be released, a.k.a 2017 Gran Selezione is this from Castello di Ama, collective soil of top estate Gaiole fruit and fully recognizing the soul from whence and where is came. Quintessentially Castello di Ama and full of all the warmth and succulence in the way that fruit can act out of such a heat-scorched and arid season. Crunchy and dusty, plenty of macerating plums and no lack of wishful tannin. Drink 2022-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2017 ($75)

So apposite to the Fonterutoli Annata “normale” in that the tonality is high, mighty and still rising. More crisp notes, feathered ripeness and a liqueur that seeps, steeps and spills. Some might feel it hot, others bothered and here the sentiment is like indoor winter comfort. That must be the idea; farmhouse dining room, hearth alight, hearty fare, company, sangiovese to the maximum degree. Drink 2022-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Vicoregio 36 2017

Of the Fonterutoli Gran Selezione Vicoregio 36 is the biggest, baddest and most tannic beast of them all. The fruit seems worthy and task equal though time is of that essence in understanding. Such a wild ride and yet so like 2017 to make that happen. Drink 2022-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Badiola 2017

Badiola is an entirely new way to investigate Gran Selezione in that it hits all the high notes. Tripping the acidity light fantastic and sweet tannic grains of mighty proportion. Where the fruit is at is anyone’s guess but let’s assume it will emerge when the lights begin to dim. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Querceto Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Il Picchio 2017 (938738, $49.00)

Il Pichio 2017 is a fully formed, rich endeavour of concentrated fruit and a bastion of structure. Delivers all the necessary goods to develop, pivot, morph and turn into something secondary that will be no less interesting to behold. Watch it unfold and behold the pleasure. Top styling, balance and wonder that captures, subdues and puts a vintage in its place. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted February 2020

Volpaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Coltassala 2017 ($84.00)

Volpaia’s Coltassala is a really concentrated Gran Selezione and one of the vintage’s early risers. That tells us it will go to bed equally early and slumber for quite some time. The architectural wonders of Radda heights are acclimatizing as we speak but will not open up the shutters and the doors for years it seems. A full compliment of ready and willing fruit is there but kept and suppressed. The emergence will be a vintage exceptionality and live that way for longer than the average ’17. Drink 2023-2032.  Tasted February 2020

Conte Capponi/Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Vigna Bastignano 2017 ($74.95)

Magnificent and magnanimous perfume emanates from Bastignano 2017 in ways never noted, nosed or thought to be needed. Jackie Wilson Gran Selezione. A wine that can “step up and face the world.” Listen. The roses and violets mix with that ’17 savour and the dried notes match the fresh ones step for step. “Your love keeps lifting me higher and higher.” Drink 2022-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Querceto Di Castellina Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Sei 2017 ($57.95)

Querceto di Castellina’s varietal Gran Selezione sangiovese is the work of oenologist Gioia Cresti (Carpineta Fontalpino) and agronomist Valerio Grella. Sei is the number six in Italian and there were many instances of this number coinciding with the production of their Gran Selezione. The (Belvedere) single-vineyard wine comes from a special selection of grapes in a vineyard area measuring 6.6 hectares with a density of 6,666 vines per hectare. The tonneaux barrels predominantly used hold 666 bottles of wine and family matriarch Laura was born on 6/6/46. Another wild and carefree Gran Selezione from the Castellina estate brings acidity to new sangiovese heights, to no surprise at 480m, with a tone not oft seen in this territory. Serious tang and seriously tart, fruit buzzing of currants and citrus everywhere. Will evolve into the most singular GS that can be next level imagined. Drink 2022-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016

Bibbiano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Vigna Del Capannino 2016

Capannino’s side of the Bibbiano tracks makes Gran Selezione that dissolves like good dark chocolate on the tongue. Never relenting, piquing of energy and spice, here the land makes sangiovese buzz and pulse with drive and intensity. Rich and rendered, still a meaningful two to three years away from integration. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Bindi Sergardi Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Mocenni ’89 2016

Mocenni takes all the advantage that 2016 can possibly pass its way and runs carefree into the wind. The fruit is pretty much as ripe as there can ever be in sangiovese struck by silver acidity and gold tannins, so you can imagine the result. This needs 10 years to fully unfurl, unwind and unfold. Please give it at least half that much time. Drink 2024-2034.  Tasted February 2020

Cantalici Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016 ($60.00)

Just a lovely smooth, acidity supported, chocolate and spice Gran Selezione with stage presence and drawn by an artist’s fine line. Great attitude here, a mix of the new and the old. Presents Gaiole to the world in beautiful hyperbole and with accredited distinction. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted February 2020

Carpineto Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016

Classic Carpineto with big juicy fruit, high acidity and a dusty volatility that speaks to youth like few others of its ilk. Will settle and turn into something lengthy, characterful and fine. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Casa Emma Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016

From San Donato in Poggio and some of the territory’s juiciest sangiovese is magnified and hyperbolized in Gran Selezione form. Plenty of wood though not overly suppressive of the fruit. Nice balance and spice to boot. The vineyard is a piece of heaven on a hill and Paolo Paffi’s touch is full of grace. Drink 2021-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Di Verrazzano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Sassello 2016

The richest of Verrazzano’s wines is this Sassello and the story is a great one. One of history, progression and birds with great taste. Grapes gone from table wine to Annata through Riserva and now in Gran Selezione form grown at 480m. So much chocolate and wood derived spice. Thick and unctuous for the category and that’s really saying something. Drink 2022-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Dievole Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Vigna Disessina 2016

Vigna Dissesina occupies a Castelnuovo Berardenga world of high level fruit, acids and tannin encouraged and accumulated at the highest professional level around. All the necessities that resources can provide do what’s right necessary and abide by making high level Gran Selezione. All are here in this bottle. Exceptional wine with style, layering and class. Drink 2023-2031. Tasted February 2020

Fèlsina Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Colonia 2016 ($208.99)

The consistency of Fèlsina in terms of well pretty much everything reaches the summit, apex and summit of this Colonia. Fruit, acidity, style and effect are all accessed in a similar way while barriques fatten and enrich this Gran Selezione to the point of bracing. Perhaps the most accumulation ever in a Colonia fills this 2016 with supreme fruit quality and a base of acidity that drives the engine. Massive tannic extension and energy of intensity. Huge wine with big plans and twenty years lay ahead. Drink 2023-2033.  Tasted September 2019 and February 2020

Il Molino Di Grace Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Il Margone 2016

Extremely youthful ’16 but the clarity of that vintage’s fruit can’t help but be up front and present. The accountability begins right here, with 2016s out of which fruit was allowed to stay fresh and yet in Gran Selezione form there has to be time. Allow for development and the accumulation of flesh, but also succulence. This sumptuous Margone comes replete without the old style of hammer on head mentality. It’s the new and elegant one. Tasting this offers a clear picture into how Iacopo Morganti has impressed his talents and his will onto the wines of this estate. Sip one here and there over the next 15 years and it will be as close as one gets to standing in these Panzano vineyards in a pair of the Grace’s shoes. Drink 2023-2036.  Tasted February 2020

Le Fonti Di Panzano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016

Begins at a point just exactly where the Riserva ’16 takes its leave and carries the torch of purity and delicacy. Efficacy too, efficiency for sure and an effusive level of strength that belies its lightness of being. Yes it takes richness in sangiovese from Panzano and this estate to another level but never forgets the heeded understatement it demands to pay forward. Another outstanding effort and worthy of 20 plus years in the cellar. Drink 2023-2035.  Tasted February 2020

Principe Corsini/Villa Le Corti Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Zac 2016

The transition from 2015 to 2016 takes Zac out of the IGT realm and into the appellative one occupied by Gran Selezione at the top of the heap. This new position atop the pyramid is the right and apropos one as a legacy of love and respect. Extreme juiciness defines this Zac from Duccio Corsini’s Le Corti and the amount of kudos it deserves has everything to do with how it has been given every opportunity to shine. Succulent acids and grand red ripeness are what you want and hope for. That and a long life ahead. Grande Duccio. Drink 2023-2033.  Tasted February 2020

Ricasoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Colledilà 2016 (293522, $59.95)

Of the three Ricasoli Gran Selezione Colledilà is the succulent and opulent one, of candied roses with spice and high quality, succinctly Gaiole acids. Sumptuous, unctuous and built for pleasure. Amore even. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Ricasoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Roncicone 2016

The Monti in Chianti artist formerly known as IGT is now a knight in shining Gran Selezione appellative armour. The 2016 vintage marks the launching point for one of Francesco Ricasoli’s sangiovese explorations and believe when it is said that one thousand years of Ricasoli thought have led to this. Roncicone is varietal strength embodied, also wisdom, methodology and in potion terms, herbolgy. Mixed an elemental Amaro with chewy red fruit in hyper-sangiovese reality. Ripe and concentrated, a tour de GS force. Single vineyard, proud and opulent. Drink 2023-2032.  Tasted February 2020

Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Ceniprimo 2016

As with the Roncicone, Ceniprimo moves from IGT to Gran Selezione in a catgory shift to peak pyramid appellative Chianti Classico that is, well, categorical. The dine first single terroir sangiovese exploration is the biggest of Ricasoli’s three and also the one submerged under the most amount of barrel. Gaiole and Monti are reasoned and seasoned in GS framing with richness and über smooth consistency. While surely a big big wine it too will silken and lengthen after enough time has elapsed. Sangiovese. It needs the bottle. Drink 2023-2035.  Tasted February 2020

Rocca Delle Macìe Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Sergio Zingarelli 2016 ($122.95)

Sergio Zingarelli the Grand Selezione is the rock, the gentle giant, the patriarch of the company’s wines. As a Grand Selezione it allows its actions to speak for the rest of the portfolio to follow. It leads the estates; Macìe, Sant’Alphonso, Fizzano and La Tavelelle. In 2016 the sangiovese is so different and yet so Castellina in that red cherry fruit core teased by spice. Smells like roses and the feel in the mouth is swelling, rising like a tide increasing as it barrels in. In the scheme of timing it would be prudent to allow those waves in years to go out several times before looking for that window of Grand Selezione opportunity to begin. Drink 2024-2034.  Tasted February 2020

Terra Di Seta Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Vendemmia Assai 2016

Assai is the estate cru, of the oldest vines on the property and 100 per cent sangioevse aged only in tonneaux A step up in fruit quality handles the wood and the category (including the Kosher angle) with more energy and finesse. Also a reductive rubberiness that so reminds of South Africa. Quite the dark chocolate component though also vanilla in waves. Drink 2022-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015

Castello Di Monsanto Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015

The acumen, wisdom and also the persistent reduction are formidable in this incredibly concentrated wine. So Monsanto, so in delivery of San Donato in Poggio, so Laura Bianchi. Seemingly equipped with the needed stuffing in the way that 1968 managed to accrue over 50 years of travels. Here in Gran Selezione form the tendencies and the abilities are multiplied tenfold. Magnificent and magnanimous, the concentration is foiled by focus and precision, from all that has come before, moving into the present and then going forward with everything that occupies, in hopes and dreams. Drink 2025-2037.  Tasted February 2020

Carpaccio at Terre di Seta

Terra Di Seta Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Vendemmia Assai 2015

Assai is the estate cru, of the oldest vines on the property and 100 per cent sangioevse aged only in tonneaux. A hyperbole of dark fruit, strong wood adage and fully reasoned meets seasoned Gran Selezione with all the protective, resinous, wood-spiced and tacky tannic bite. Really needs to settle and mellow. A top Kosher expression of firm, big-bodied reds will satisfy a high end corner of a very specific market. Drink 2022-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Good to go!

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WineAlign

Chianti Classico’s big Raddese

Radda Rocks

Modern discourse concerning the sangiovese of Chianti Classico submits to a motif of matters integral and essential in observing a common style found in the territory’s wines. While the variegate of soils in clay, limestone, schist and sandstone decomposed into the Galestro, Alberese, Macigno, Calcari, Colombino and Arenaria are the lifeblood, it is acidity that acts as the crux and the catalyst for elevating these particular sangiovese. Matters swell, flow and develop even deeper when communes, sub-zones and frazioni are taken into account. In the case of Radda there is an exacting set of acidities that come to the forefront of these wines. They are the big Raddese.

Related – Get Radda for Chianti Classico

Radda in Chianti

L’Associazione “Vignaioli di Radda”

L’associazione “Vignaioli di Radda” ha come scopo principale la diffusione della cultura vitivinicola di Radda in Chianti presentando strumenti, provvedimenti e politiche che sostengano la viticoltura, ed in particolare la produzione di vino di qualità. The association of vignoli, a group of producers with the mission to spread Radda wine culture by presenting tools, measures and policies that support viticulture, and in particular the production of quality wine.

Val delle Corti, Radda

Radda’s 24 produttori are a strong and unified unit. They are Allesandro Gallo (Castello di Albola), Alyson Morgan (Podere Capaccia), Andrea Samichelli (Cantina di Castelvecchi), Angela Fronti (Istine), Barbara Widmer (Brancaia), Bernardo Bianchi (Colle Bereto), Claudia Guercini (Terrabianca), Cristina Grilli (Podere Terreno), Daniele Ciampi (Castello di Monterinaldi), Diego Finnochi (L’Erta di Radda), Federica Mascheroni (Castello di Volpaia), Gabriele Rosi (Borgo Salcetino), Ilaria Anachini (Fattoria di Montemaggio), Martino Manetti (Montevertine), Michele Braganti (Monteraponi), Orsola Beccari (Vignavecchia), Oscar Geyer (Borgo la Stella), Paolo Cianferoni (Caparsa), Piero Lanza (Poggerino), Riccardo Lanza (Pruneto), Roberta Contrino (Podere L’ Aja), Roberto Bianchi (Val delle Corti), Stefano Peruzzi (Castello di Radda) and Valentina Stiaccini (Tenuta di Carleone).

Ladies and gentlemen may I introduce to you, Roberto Bianchi @valdellecorti

In the words of Roberto Bianchi. “Large and small we are all aware of being guardians of a very special spot of Tuscany. The differences of wine production within a territory is its greatest asset. As for the vintage, ’18 is complicated with a bit of greenish tannins. The heat and then rain, followed by two weeks of tropical humidity in late August. Higher elevations were a real plus, despite the factor of less concentration but those who hung longer and avoided mold and mildew made elegant wines.” Climate change has opened the door for this fringe commune to take centre stage.  Says Bianchi, “other communes have tremendous problems of overheating. We don’t have that problem in Radda.”

Nadia Fournier, Philippe Boisvert, Carl Villeneuve-Lepage and Krysta Oben at Casa Chianti Classico

In the words of Godello when last he waxed on about Radda. “Most likely you’ve arrived at this page because you know that the story of Radda in Chianti will make for a terrific read. If you’ve landed here and do not yet know the blood of Radda’s sangiovese or are not yet excited about the commune’s 2017 harvest then I urge you to press on. In Radda they are farming higher, further and edgier. Their time in the sun as the cool kid on the fringe of selvage sangiovese viticulture in Chianti Classico has begun. Like all wines subjected and connected to global climate change, in Chianti Classico the future of sangiovese will be inextricably tied to those from Radda. Until now it has been generally understood that above 550m (or so) of altitude it is more than difficult to ripen sangiovese in Chianti Classico. That too is changing and the 2017 vintage will offer great proof.”

Canadians at Val delle Corti, Radda in Chianti

In September 2019 a fourth visit to Casa Chianti Classico in the past three years could only yield a deeper understanding. The educational and promotional home of the Consorzio is housed in what was once the Franciscan Convento di Santa Maria al Prato in Radda in Chianti. It is here that the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico has set up its new education and events centre to promote the wines of the Gallo Nero. This time around 13 professional, intrepid and curious Canadian sommeliers and journalists attacked a comprehensive tasting of Radda’s sangiovese. John Szabo M.S., Nadia Fournier, Philippe Boisvert, Jean-Sébastien Massé, Carl Villeneuve-Lepage, Christina Hartigan, Robert Stelmachuk, J.P. Potters, Toni Weber, Krysta Oben, Faye MacLachlan, Adam Hijazi and Godello. A visit earlier in the day with association president Roberto Bianchi at his Val delle Corti property opened 26 eyes to Radda’s high, cool and fringe possibilities. Here are tasting notes on 30 such examples replete with the commune’s big Raddese acidity.

Chianti Classico Annata

Poggerino Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

You must walk these Radda vineyards to understand what’s in this glass. Regard the way the rows of vines change colour in September and give up a variability of timing. It is these stops along the way where winemaker Piero Lanza makes his picks then crushes, macerates and collectively ferments. It results in the most seamless, albeit high alcohol, glycerin and textured sangiovese. It is Chianti Classico made precisely the way it needs to be made from this very specific place. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted February and September 2019

Val Delle Corti Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

What has one year brought to Annata ’16? Not much to be honest. A roundness of Raddese acidity has come about. A result of slow and steady work in the vineyard that strays away from acidity that disturbs but instead allows for a doming effect, a cappello sommerso, a rounded cap with help from what was done inside the walls.  Last tasted September 2019

Just bottled and I mean just bottled, a sangiovese of bright red to purple fruit with a 30-40 per cent assistance by what Roberto Bianchi employs through fermentation called piemontazino, or macherazione carbonica a capello sommerso. Leaving 30-40 per cent of the fruit in stainless steel tank on skins for three to four months. Tames the Raddesse acidity for the Annata and makes it more than drinkable. In 2016 it’s crushable, back up the truck gulpable. Beauty in sangiovese “questa, è radda.” This, is Radda. Drink 2019-2023.  Tasted September 2018 and February 2019

Brancaia’a Barbara Widmer with Vancouver’s Christina Hartigan

Brancaia Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (519173, $24.95)

Brancaia ’17 shows some breath of fresh restraint air out of a vintage not exactly simple to effect. There is some glycerin and also some warmth but there too is balance and joy. Solid ’17, the kind I’d like to meet. Drink 2019-2022.  Tasted September 2019

Colle Bereto Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 ($31.95)

Bernardo Bianchi’s 2017 benefitted from the most stringent if mechanical sorting process to bring about a clean, transparent, effusive and spiced Annata. It’s modern and also refreshing, fully expressed and crunchy, as Radda should be. Not one for the ages but clearly high level in its class. Drink 2019-2022.  Tasted September 2019

Volpaia Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (953828, $28.95)

Pretty taut for Volpaia though truth be told this Radda sangiovese always requires some time. Fullness of fruit and equally supportive acidity meets the texture of altitude and the advantage of acumen. There are layers here that many ‘17s will just not have, exhibit or develop. A tour de vintage force really. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted February and September 2019

Borgo Salcetino Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

A young, tense and reductive Annata, not yet responsive, quiet and bashful. Plenty of fruit lurking and needing some air to open up. A touch of green tannin on the back end. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted September 2019

Walking on Alberese with Angela Fronti in her @istine_raddainchianti and #cavarchione Gaiole in Chianti vineyards ~ #chianticlassico #vignaistine #vignacavarchione

Istine Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Angela Fronti’s come together of twofold Radda plus Gaiole vineyard fruit is the future of crafting balanced and understandable Annata. In the world of changing climates you will need to balance elevations, acidities and ripenesses in order to keep Chianti Classico on point. Welcome to the microcosmic confluences of Istine, with fineness, fruit and spice. Some solid tension too. Drink 2020-2026.  Tasted September 2019

Caparsa Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Lovely glycerin and elastic sangiovese not without a generous component from barrel. A touch of greenish tannin from that wood but plenty of fruit to swallow it up, or at least will do so in time. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted September 2019

Vignavecchia Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Tasted with Orsula Beccari in Radda in Chianti, from a just about ready barrel sample. The dusty rose and violet perfume, pretty and savoury of a particular Vignavecchi localitá nose. This is the Macigno and the Alberese speaking, of elegance woven through structure. Lovely purity. Drink 2020-2027.  Tasted September 2018 and September 2019

Castello Monterinaldi Chianti Classico DOCG Dall’Anno Mille 2016 (383604, $19.95)

A huge leap in quality for the Radda producer, clearly a sign of work put in the vineyard and steps towards making the right, correct and delicious local sangiovese. A really textural wine and of really fine acidity. Molta buona. Drink 2019-2023.  Tasted September 2019

Castello di Albola Chianti Classico DOCG 2016 (339937, $19.95)

Albola’s are some of the highest of any vineyard not only in Radda but in Chianti Classico, ranging from 350-680m of elevation. The average age of the vines is around 20 years, and since 1999, 10 hectares have been replanted per year. The Acciaiuoli family of Florence built the Castle in the 15th century and commissioned the estate to plant in the 15th century as a symbol of their high status. The estate was acquired in 1979 by the Zonin family. The Annata is aged in 3,400-liter Slavonian grandi botti for a year, followed by three months in bottle. In a changing climate the ripeness of this sangiovese and with help from an ideal vintage means the highest level of glycerin red fruit, sweet savour and silky tannins. Top shelf stuff in 2016. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted September 2019

Podere Capaccia Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Sweet fruit, simple, red and ripe, all red berries, nothing flashy or fashionable. Straightforward and a touch into the syrup. Drink 2019.  Tasted September 2019

Podere Terreno Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Terreno’s lights are flashing with sangiovese of bright fruit and ultra high tones. That said there is a macerated and extracted depth to this, with layered acidity and grippy tannins. It’s very youthful and not showing its best, at least not yet. Might allow the shell to be cracked in a year or more likely two. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February and September 2019

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG

Val Delle Corti Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Riserva follows the ’16 Val delle Corti line, a selection from the original 45 year-old vines and young beyond estate compare. A visceral, glycerin-collective, more perfume inclusive of what grows and yet the attack of acidity is ulterior, of another motive all together, relatively speaking as compared to the Annata. This is Riserva of truth and potential, to live longer than those wishing and crying out for immediate rich attention. This does not beg for anything. You should let it lie, allow it to breath and drink it in. Later. Drink 2021-2029.  Tasted September 2019

Val Delle Corti Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015

Much, much hotter than ’16 and now with two more years of bottle age, which is so necessary. There is an emergence of floral spice, a tickling, salty that gets in the sense of smell and wakes you up. Enlivening vintage of sangiovese Riserva from Bianchi. Also comforting so it does both for you, with great generosity.  Last tasted September 2019

The 45 year old vines are responsible for this single cru, 100 per cent sangiovese that while older is yet bolder than the barrel sample tasted of 2016. Here you feel the hottest weeks of the summer, less elasticity, fluidity and fluency than that 2016. And yet it is so intuitively elastic, fluid and fluent in mineral rich, marly limestone soil. Here from the Corti Valley on the east facing slope above the river below. Richness, weight and red fruit so specific to this place meets the Radda acidity head on but can’t help but be submissive and respectful. Pure expression of estate, valley and commune. Truly. Drink 2020-2029.  Tasted September 2018 and February 2019

Caparsa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Caparsino 2016

From Paolo Cianferoni on a 12ha Radda estate at 450m. A citrus note lines the aromatic front, almost white grapefruit but also bleeding red, of pomegranate and red currant. Lovely mid palate, pure and purely ’16, with purest Radda acidity and chaste laser focus. Great attention to detail in the vineyard is more than apparent, translating with utmost unalloyed and unsullied clarity straight down through the glass. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted September 2019

Brancaia Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 (260802, $36.95)

Perhaps the richest Brancaia Riserva to date while keeping the supporting parts bin balance, movement and support right alongside. Namely acidity, Radda acidity to be sure and the most proper and correct actions to boot. Does everything it should, it needs and what you wish for from the house and the place. Will be long-lived and accept plenty of secondary notation; balsamic, iodine, tartufo and porcini. Can’t wait. Drink 2020-2027.  Tasted September 2019

Castello Di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 (705335, $40.00)

A perfectly brilliant Riserva from Radda’s Volpaia in ’16, not exactly shocking but nothing taken for granted. Texture is the greatest portent and harbinger for time, age worthiness and slow melt. The linger of collective parts all in synch also bodes to the future, well, good and timeless. Timely wine right here, tidy and generous. Would only be normal to imagine what the Gran Selezione Il Puro will do but then again curiosity plus knowledge leads to great anticipation. For now the present moment concentration allows the foreshadowing to speak of a 15 year run in excellence for this top echelon Riserva. Drink 2021-2030.  Tasted September 2019

Podere l’Aja Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

A linear sangiovese in the finest sense of fruit crashing through acidity, each taking on a component of the other. Bright, lifted and effusive there is red and more red, low in savour and high in energy. Should find some good distance from this Raddese. Drink 2020-2030.  Tasted September 2019

Castello Di Albola Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 (315150, $23.95)

Great strides, long strides, strides in the shadows of Radda at the end of harvest. The eloquence is understated and the fullness of fruit quite impressive, though not without the work of the Radda acidity. Just a touch of tonic late indicates that mid-term aging is the product of a correct imagination. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted September 2019

Castello Di Monterinaldi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Dall’anno Mille 2016

Lovely vintage in Riserva form for Daniele Ciampi, of fruit sweetly developed, ripe and effusive. Full extract, tang and force all combine to grip the palate and keep it all swimming upstream. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted September 2019

Istine Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Levigne 2015

The amazing confluence of Gaiole and Radda come about as a variegation of all possible soils and climates. It’s a lovely generational wine that bridges worlds, places and people. Fine structure makes the fruit seem plentiful, as it obviously is and allows the wine to stretch, whisper and then speak within control, but especially with emotion. Buona. Better than before. Drink 2020-2029.  Tasted September 2019

Colle Bereto Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015

No disrespect intended and in fact a great compliment is paid to winemaker Bernardo Bianchi for his ability to craft exceptional Chianti Classico in the most difficult of vintages. That his 2013 and 2014 Riservas were two of the better efforts for Radda’s terroir and the great curving amphitheatre of Colle Bereto vineyards is a testament to the ethic and the ethos. This 2015 is clearly a polished and generous sangiovese from a vintage that was almost too easy for a man of Bianchi’s modesty and talents. The wood only adds to the smooth textures and plentiful flavours and it is these barrel notes that here are more obvious if respectful in their obvious interference. Once again highest quality tannin works with the sangiovese and the specific Radda acidity. Drink this earlier than the others. Drink 2020-2027.  Tasted September 2019

Podere Capaccia Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015

Unique aromatics, part violet floral and part carbonic. Very fresh especially for Riserva, full of candied notes over stones, rocks and savour. Not overly extracted or pushed in any way, just comfortable and of a simple, lively and fun acidity. Drink 2019-2022.  Tasted September 2019

Poggerino Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Bugialla 2016 ($45.00)

Some Chianti Classico just are; exact representations and looks of knowing, mirrored or not, of who they are. But even more so, where they are from. On the bigger and brighter side in balance of Radda, of a specific vineyard site and within clear, knowable and transparent sight. So proper and distinguished, if schooled by essential knowledge and possibility.  Last tasted September 2019

Piero Lanza’s selection is so smart, protracted and tidy within the framework of what a Poggerino Riserva just happens to be. It’s almost as you find yourself scanning the vineyards and your mind’s eye settles on a few perfect plants. You taste the berries from those vines and imagine them bound together in wine. This is the sangiovese mimic of those isolated points of a very special vineyard and also a perfectly constructed stone house in Gaiole, variegated, tightly intertwined and just beautiful to behold. Perfectly streamlined, built to last a few hundred years, but I would suggest to drink it 280 years before that. Drink 2022-2032.  Tasted February 2019

Pruneto Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2011

Savoury, liquid dusk and dusty, from a grippy vintage and showing some age. Bretty and gritty, noticeable volatility and some angst. Drink 2019.  Tasted September 2019

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG

Castello Di Radda Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015

Deep toned and lifted together, fruit of many layered splendour and full throttle acidity. Big and bigger components working separately at present. Give this five years for the weight of the early ferment to aerate, re-coagulate and tie il all together. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted September 2019

Borgo Salcetino Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG I Salci 2015

Glycerin fruit, full ripeness on the palate and a touch of verdancy in the phenols. Rich and unctuous, perfectly heady and bountiful sangiovese for the shorter splurge and be content term. Drink 2019-2022.  Tasted September 2019

Vignavecchia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Odoardo Beccari 2015

There really is nothing else in Radda that emits the aromas of a Vignavecchia sangiovese. Like sweet fennocchio but a slow-cooked, rendered and caramelized one. Also contrario of an unwashed rind sheep’s milk cheese. There’s an acidity of effusion and then a verdant note, a legume, like lentils cooked down. Plenty of gastronomy here while missing a step of structure so abundant in the ’14. Drink 2020-2026.  Tasted September 2019

Castelvecchi Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG “Madonnino Della Pieve” 2012

Big-boned, roasted osetta of a sangiovese with compounded and hyperbolized mountain savour. There is so much brushy green botanical presence here, prescient and possessive of great staying power. Needs time. Drink 2021-2029.  Tasted September 2019

Good to go!

godello

Radda Rocks

Twitter: @mgodello

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WineAlign

Chianti Classico is the future

Panzano Sunset

Tasting notes and reviews on 125 sangiovese at the 2019 Chianti Classico Collection

by Michael Godel

Related – As seen on WineAlign

Sangiovese and the Black Rooster. The grape and the symbolic trademark are the inseparable and inextricable nexus of Chianti Classico. The Gallo Nero brands each bottle of sangiovese with a seal to guarantee the exacting territorial source of the contents inside, on the neck or the back label, for a conceit of quality. If the rooster is not there, it can’t be Chianti Classico. All three levels of DOCG classification are rubber stamped; Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva and Chianti Classico Gran Selezione. Deconstructed deeper there are San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Radda in Chianti, Poggibonsi, Greve in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti, Castelnuovo Berardenga and the freshly renamed commune of Barberino Tavernelle. Deeper still there are frazioni; Panzano, Lamole and Montefioralle (Greve), Monti (Gaiole), San Donato in Poggio and Mercatale in Val di Pesa (San Casciano) and many more. These names grace some examples and you can expect more and more to join the menzione geografica wave.

#lacappella

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In Ontario Market Chianti Classico

Chianti Classico DOCG 2017
Chianti Classico DOCG 2016
Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016
Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016
Chianti Classico DOCG 2015
Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015
Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015

Not currently in Ontario market Chianti Classico

Chianti Classico DOCG 2017
Chianti Classico DOCG 2016
Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016
Chianti Classico DOCG 2015
Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015
Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015

putting my money on @beck to pair @johnszabo with #chianticlassico

Related – John Szabo’s Anteprime di Toscana report

The preview or anteprima tasting of current vintage releases known as the Chianti Classico Collection took place on February 11th and 12th at Stazione Leopolda in Firenze. Upwards of 200 producers were on hand to introduce their most recent (or imminent to be released) Annata, Riserva and Gran Selezione. Journalists from all over the world were present, including myself and WineAlign’s John Szabo M.S. Those who are commensurate with the Tuscan territory’s landscape, people, food and wines fondly remember the essential and tireless work lent to Chianti Classico matters by long-time friend and Consorzio past President Sergio Zingarelli of Rocca delle Macìe. In 2019 the focus is on where the territory will go, with the future squarely, capably and thankfully in the hands of the incumbent President, Fontodi’s Giovanni Manetti. It would be provocation and a challenge to express the sentiment any clearer. For Chianti Classico the future looks bright and so very sangiovese.

When I met with Manetti in both September and November of 2018 he had that look, the one of serious concentration mixed with great hope. Manetti told me that Chianti Classico is home to “one of the best red wines from all over the world, deserving of space in place with the best. I find great harmony in the wines.” His words and the things I myself have seen, nosed, tasted, felt and experienced over seven trips and 76 estate visits spread across 34 latter months have led to some serious genuflection. The important question is contemplated again and with great sincerity. Is Chianti Classico the most important red wine from Italy?

Which way with the Gallo Nero?

The sangiovese raised in Chianti Classico must and should not be assessed without considering what lays beneath the ground in conjunction with the people who work the vineyards. It was a discussion with Principe Corsini/Le Corti’s Duccio Corisini in which he mentioned the term genius loci that led me to regard the Chianti Classico Climat concept equivalence called acclimazione sottosuolo. Both are a matter of agriculturalists interacting with the stratified Chianti Classico layers beneath the vines. Four major types of mineral soils are present, prevalent and essential to how, why and where sangiovese acts and thrives in the territory.

Alberese (calcareous limestone), Galestro (schisty marl), Pietraforte (purple-brown shale) and Macigno (sandstone) fix and demonstrate the sub-soils but they are not the only significant rocks that contribute to regional character. River stones and marine fossil shells are also found in various vineyards and yet it is simply impossible to draw geological and geographical lines that explain exactly which soils exist and where. The master mapmaker himself Alessandro Masnaghetti has tried and while his rendering is the most accurate and complete for Chianti Classico even he has conceded that it is the most complex weave in all of Italy. Here is the rub and the essence of Chianti Classico’s set of exemptions and eccentricities. The complexity of soils results in the multiplicity of its sangiovese.

There’s 32 kilometres to Lamole, we’ve got a full tank of gas, a six pack of Chianti Classico, it’s dark out, and we’re wearing sunglasses.

In advance of February’s #CCC2019 I published tasting notes and reviews for all the wines I assessed at Chianti Classico estates in the Autumn of 2018.

Related – Chianti Classico Fall 2018: September and November, 25 estates, 150 wines reviewed in 18,000 words

Those September and November 2018 visits to 25 properties were my pre-anteprima to the February 2019 anteprima at the Chianti Classico Collection. In addition to the reviews I also dropped two posts, one that appeared on the Chianti Classico website so succinctly translated into Italian by the Consorzio del Vino Chianti Classico’s Silvia Fiorentini and Caterina Mori. This was no simple or easy exercise for them as any of you who know the meandering style of my prose. The second was in English, as I had originally composed.

Related – as seen in Chianti Classico Magazine, translated into Italian – Il sogno Canadese del Chianti Classico abbraccia il più nobile dei Sangiovese Italiani

Related – Chianti Classico’s Canadian dream

Chianti Classico

What did we learn from this most recent Chianti Classico Collection? For one thing we remarked upon the unprecedented level of attendance. The Collection is divided into two rooms, each a football pitch in length, one with the producer stands and the other with tables set for journalists to taste at the hands of a service dutifully provided by the hardest working Sommeliers in the business. There was this non-stop buzz and producers pouring to throngs lined up three or four deep. The Collection also marked the moment when the newest Chianti Classico ambassador award was honoured to none other than Decanter’s long-standing consultant editor and author of Wine – A Way of Life, Steven Spurrier. Spurrier joins the 2018 list and inaugural first five CC ambasciatori; Jeffrey Porter, Michaela Morris, Massimo Castellani, Isao Miyajima and…Godello.

In spite of the very hot growing season yet another successful vintage was noted from the small number of 2017 sangiovese poured, in particular those showing great freshness with help from communes and vineyards blessed of higher altitudes. The real focus at #CCC2019 was on the 2016 Annata, a vintage at once normal and then exceptionally generous to show the exponential, across the board increase in quality and ever-evolving multiplicity of the territory’s sangiovese.

Lamole, Greve in Chianti

So what will 2019 bring? Will it usher in a new era of Chianti Classico bottles noted by villages and crus on the labels? Will sangiovese long designated IGT come back to the appellation? Will Gran Selezione gain further ground and find itself endeared by the hearts of more women and men? Will the category seek 100 per cent sangiovese status? One thing is certain and that is Canada’s connection and bond to the territory will only grow stronger. When we convene at the end of 2019 the sales figures will prove that the process is moving in the right direction.

As you will note from the following tasting notes/wine reviews the number of Chianti Classico I rated 90 points or higher are the most I’ve ever awarded above that arbitrary threshold. Not that I take much stock in the 100-point system, or any numerical substantiation for that matter, but in the context of what consumers want and how they make purchasing decisions, these scores show just how many Chianti Classico are worth buying, drinking and adding to the cellar.

Ontario in market Chianti Classico DOCG

These are the wines from producers with importation agency representation in Ontario available for purchase either through LCBO channels (LCBO General List, VINTAGES, Classics Catalogue, VINTAGES Shop-Online or Destination Store) or through case purchases in the LCBO-Agent Consignment program. The list does not include producers’ wines represented in Ontario that are either brought in periodically through Private Order or have not yet been imported at all.


Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

I Fabbri Chianti Classico DOCG Lamole Olinto Grassie E Figlio 2017

“A true expression of this terroir,” says Susanna Grassi, from the organic vineyards, and the tiniest (3,000) bottles of production. At altitudes as high as any in Chianti Classico and from the warmest of vintages, the fresh factor is as high as there will be. The fruit goes beyond cherry, into what careens like raspberry and the savoury aspect is almost sweet, but not. Aged in concrete and just so pleasurable meets territorial. Exactitude for Lamole. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted February 2019  ifabbriclassico  roberto_codispoti  @ifabbrichianticlassico  Susanna Grassi

With Volpaia’s Federica Mascheroni

Volpaia Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Pretty taut for Volpaia though truth be told this Radda sangiovese always requires some time. Fullness of fruit and equally supportive acidity meets the texture of altitude and the advantage of acumen. There are layers here that many ‘17s will just not have, exhibit or develop. A tour de vintage force really. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted February 2019  castellodivolpaia  rogersandcompanywines  @volpaia  @rogcowines  @volpaia

Castello Di Ama Chianti Classico DOCG Ama 2017

Aromatic freshness never had it this way and the flowers are in full bloom. It’s both violet and rose but more than that, an installation as a late summer/early fall garden having been respectfully groomed. The palate does nothing to change your mind because the texture and quelling constitution are almost hypnotic, capturing, spellbinding even. Acids are fine and timing even better. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2019  castellodiama  halpernwine  @CastellodiAma  @HalpernWine  @castellodiama  @halpernwine

Rocca Di Montegrossi Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Monti in Chianti is a special tour de force location for grooming sangiovese and the vintage takes this terroir for a real spin. The Galestro rocks heated up in a way they had not recently been accustomed to doing, having received so much intense sun and you can feel the accumulation in this 2017 Annata. The fruit is particularly sweet-scented and richly developed. It needs little settling time and with acids not overly demanding I would suggest early enjoyment. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted February 2019  #roccadimontegrossi  #roccadimontegrossi  @RoccadiMontegrossi

Bibbiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Scintillant this ’17 fresh-maker from i Marrochezi Marzi at Bibbiano, lightning red fruit of clarity, transparency and pulse. High-toned early, out of the gate and surprisingly without foible despite the ripeness and while concentrated, not excitedly so. Well done Tommaso, really well done. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted February 2019  bibbianowines  lesommelierwine  @bibbianowines  @LeSommelierWine  Bibbiano Chianti Classico  Le Sommelier, Wine Agency

Filippo Mazzei in discussion with Brad Royale and Steven Robinson

Castello Di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico DOCG Fonterutoli 2017

A poster child for 2017, ripeness developed without trepidation, berries small and bursting with tart fruit, cherries on high and acidity wound so very tight. Some quality tannins, sweet and savoury, liquid chalky and always intense. All that said, try and find a better Tuscan cuisine matching early drinking Annata. It’s exactly that, to be sure. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted February 2019

Carpineto Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Tough reductive nut to crack though a swirl, some agitation and air releases some classic Greve in Chianti Carpineto aromatics. Chewy sangiovese, after that initial rock solid wall broken through and full of rendered fruit, some leathery, very cherry and quick to speak. Such a mouthful with bones and a verdant streak run right through. Drink 2019-2022. Tasted February 2019  carpinetowines  univinscanada  @CarpinetoWines  @UNIVINS  Carpineto Wines  @agence.UNIVINS  


Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Villa Di Geggiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Sometimes there’s a sangiovese that’s really quite perfect for its place and time. In Geggiano’s case their land is a highly specific micro-climate in as far as the crow flies close to Siena at the western edge of Castelnuovo Berardenga. With terrific 2016 in pocket it adds up to immediate gratification giving way in credence to structural organization. This is the 2019 find from Annata so many of you will have been looking and waiting for. Precise and focused are certainties though it is the way its silky texture slides down and its fine tannins only limelight the layers the pleasure along that ride. Great work from field to table from the brothers Boscu Bandinelli Bianchi. Drink 2022-2033. Tasted February 2019  illadigeggiano  andreaboscu  barrelselect  @VilladiGeggiano  @BarrelSelect  @villadigeggianowinery  @barrelselect

Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico President Giovanni Manetti, Fontodi, Panzano in Chianti

Fontodi Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

There are so many attributable aspects at play upon arrival at 2016 for Fontodi. Tasting three times in 2018 with Giovanni Manneti lent much discussion to the anticipation of this vintage even though it hot not yet been poured. The newer vineyards have entered a new period of maturity, coupled with the older Conca d’Oro vines and in the breathing of 2016 all adds up to a pinnacle of sorts. This is an uncompromising Annata of fruit, acidity, oh acidity and all around structure. It’s actually a bit chalky at this stage and the finest tannins still dominate the scene. Will be one for the ages. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted February 2019  #Fontodi  rogersandcompanywines    @rogcowines  Az. Agr. Fontodi

Fontodi Chianti Classico DOCG Filetta Di Lamole 2016

Once again Lamole both astonishes and confounds. It’s make-up, constitution and display are unlike any other in Chianti Classico. It’s both liquid lava flowing and petrified, salumi cured and fresh as just picked red fruit. It’s quite a scene this Fontodi from land occupied by cousins to Giovanni Manetti, sangiovese that is chewy but linear, chalky while viscous, savoury but far from herbal. It’s the umami of Chianti Classico sangiovese I suppose. It’s so singular and needs to be investigated, nosed and tasted, again and again. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted February 2019

Paolo de Marchi, Isole e Olena

Isole E Olena Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Was finally bottled in July, to be released in February. “I like 2016, it’s a very different vintage.” As usual there is 15 per cent canaiolo mixed in. Why Canaiolo? “Because it’s from here. And it’s a late ripening variety like sangiovese, and also not heavy and jammy like merlot.” Canaiolo is like sangiovese in that it must be selected and used in very particular ways. Paolo’s is actually a darker depth of fruit from 2016 while the spice is so much more sophisticated. There is so much wisdom now, more than even before and a calm, settling depth about this wine. Last tasted November 2018 and February 2019  #isoleeolena  @HalpernWine    halpernwine  Isole e Olena  @halpernwine

Chianti Classico 2016 is composed of 80 per cent sangiovese, (15) canaiolo and (5) syrah, which since the 1980s has always held a spot, in fact it may have been as much as 10 two plus decades ago. Paolo de Marchi explains.”Syrah in my opinion, was really about thinking, about blending in an earlier ripening variety.” It also added colour, not for quality necessarily, but for pleasure. “If I were a consultant I don’t think I would recommend to plant it anymore.” But Paolo loves it, its bright acidity and lower pH, and loves the warmth. You can feel the liquid peppery hug from the combination of canaiolo and syrah in the constitution of this CC and now a new texture evolved from a traditional one, clearly passed on through generations. It is spoken in the clarity of this 2016, but it has taken decades to arrive here. Finessed, soft tannins and an effulgent acidity wrap fruit chewy and yet very crisp. Singular again and alone but quicker to please, at least for now. Perhaps it too will shut down in 2019. Perhaps not. Drink 2019-2028. Tasted February 2018

Il Molino Di Grace Chianti Classico DOCG Solosangiovese 2016

”I think it’s a very good vintage,” announces Iacopo Morganti and that is all you really need to know, though take the time to glide along and feel the in synch moving parts. This is essential and partisan to gain an understanding ingrained of deepest knowing. There is something about this house style, this estate gathering and this layering of no-proviso, 100 per cent sangiovese. It walks you down all the way to Rimocine, down to the bottom of the Grace vinyards, looking up at San Francesco and the vines all around. This transports you to a place. Isn’t that what you want? That and great fruit, acids and fine tannin. Southeast Panzano sangiovese incarnate. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted February 2019

Colle Bereto Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

So accomplished, respectful and purposed. Knowable, knowledgeable and guaranteed to educate on the merits of growing, picking and sorting perfect fruit. The furthest from rustic that you will find or know. Dark fruit, succulent acids and some of Radda in Chianti’s finest tannins. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2019  olleberetowinery   @NokhrinWines  Azienda Agricola Colle Bereto  Azienda Agricola Colle Bereto

Le Fonti Di Panzano Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Officially still a tank sample but it is a finished wine, just awaiting DOCG approval. Very firm and juicy, replete with the classic Le Fonti aromatic profile, of salumi, fennel, herbs and salty savour. Fruit, acidity, structure all there in fineness and Panzano culpability. Needs a year to come together, at least, for sure. Essentially 90 per cent sangiovese give or take a point or two with merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2019  poderelefonti  thevineagency  @LeFontiPanzano  @TheVine_RobGroh  Fattoria Le Fonti – Panzano   @thevineto

I Fabbri Chianti Classico DOCG Lamole Olinto Grassie E Figlio 2016

From a normal vintage really, warm in Spring, hot in summer and back down to pleasant in the fall. A phenolic journey just right for Lamole, More savour, in fennel and gariga than ‘7, surely not as juicy sweet. Still so mouth watering in a way that most sangiovese doesn’t normally accede. This really sparks the taste buds and livens up the energy required to come back again and again. Succulence through acidity assured. Really proper. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted February 2019

Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico DOCG Brolio Bettino 2016

There is no other name in Chianti Classico that speaks to tradition, formula and success like Bettino. Bettino ’16 is a clarity that is Ricasoli. Sits up at the peak of generosity at a vortex where the fine history of a terroirist’s prayers of intercession come together. As one voice they speak of acidity and structure, brought in to meet, engage and commune at a masterly rendered vanishing point. It’s a rich one Mr. Ricasoli, but one that can be shared and enjoyed by many in the congregation. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted February 2019

Querciabella Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

On the ripest side of 2016 life, Querciabella’s Annata is all in, developed, deep and pure. The fruit already there, unencumbered by holds barred and of a picking that pushes the envelop to gratify at the highest level. There’s nothing stopping the early enjoyment and while the tannins are anything but astringent they are there, albeit sweet and fine. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted February 2019   querciabella