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!

godello

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

WineAlign

Four questions to Chianti Classico

The Gallo Nero, Chianti Classico

Timely questions to 17 Chianti Classico producers about their appellative wines, how and why they do what they do, plus their reflections on the state of Italy’s battle with Covid-19 and projections for the 2020 harvest

by Michael Godel

Over the past four and a half years I have written about, extrapolated upon, waxed rhapsodic over and flat-out smothered Chianti Classico with hundred’s of thousands of words, reviews and tasting notes. It’s time for Godello to take a break and switch the focus on current events, what’s happening now and to hear about Chiantishire dirt from the mouths of the producers themselves. In 2020, the $64,000 dollar question is “why is this vintage different than any other?” As we fall back into impending autumn and perhaps another great global unknown, when pressed with four poignant questions, 17 Chianti Classico producers are all the youngest child at the table. They ruminate over their cultural past, viticultural present and perchance, express some postulations about the future. 

Chianti Classico Collection 2020, Stazione Leopolda, Firenze

Passport to Chianti Classico: The Sequel

But first some exciting news. Fresh on the heels of the WineAlign Exchange’s successful inaugural partnership with the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico and two sold-out international Passport case offers, this next collaboration stands to further cement our collective relationship with Tuscany’s famous wine region. Twelve more indispensable sangiovese in one mixed case. The territory’s sangiovese of exceptional quality is not limited to a mere 12 producers and so this next wave of Passport cases is poised to pack eight more prime examples in a mixed 12-pack. The WineAlign critic’s fortuitous summer of 2020 continued as they once again were given the opportunity to taste though many examples of wines stamped with the iconic symbol of the Gallo Nero. The June Chianti Classico boxes were the first of their kind for WineAlign and these new wines chosen are foremost a decision made collectively after the critics each sat down to taste many examples. They are indeed an extension of what new facets and nuances about Chianti Classico’s sangiovese the writers have learned over the past weeks.

This Passport to Chianti Classico mixed case celebrates the three levels of the region’s appellations. Passport to Chianti Classico: The Sequel explores the youthful freshness of sangiovese and the subtle differences found in the eight communes and their soils. It also brings together bolder, fuller-bodied, more structured and cellar worthy Chianti Classico.

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.

And so this latest article is an exposé of interpretation as I ask 17 iconic producers four timely questions regarding Chianti Classico’s appellative wines, how and why they do what they do and a request for their reflections on both the state of Italy’s battle with Covid-19 and projections for the 2020 harvest. Their answers further the confirmation of the territory’s ability to consistently achieve another level of quality. Sometimes sequels match or even exceed the original.

Panzano, Chianti Classico

 

I love the smaller vintages like 2014 and in my opinion both of them (with 2016) were able to reflect the Panzano characters

  Giovanni Manetti, Fontodi

 

Estate identity (terroir or better said, “genius loci”) is a very delicate concept, easy to ruin if you go by the book

  Duccio Corsini, Principe Corsini – Villa Le Corti

 

There’s no strict or clear rules to follow, because the climate affects each decision, and month after month you may need to chance or revise the decisions that were taken earlier

  Marco Ricasoli-Firidolfi, Rocca di Montegrossi

 

Sixteen producers, four questions

What recent vintage would you say marked the turning point for your winemaking, to bring your wines into a place and style that speaks of your particular vineyards, their location and terroir in Chianti Classico? What or why is the reason?

Giovanni Manetti, Fontodi, Panzano-Greve: “It is always a work in progress, every vintage is a challenge and my efforts, like everyone in the Chianti Classico region, are concentrated in trying to improve as much as possible the quality. Quality that means more and more terroir expression and identity. The recent vintage that excited me much was 2016 because almost perfect but I love also the smaller vintages like 2014 and in my opinion both of them were able to reflect the Panzano characters.”

Laura Bianchi, Castello di Monsanto, San Donato in Poggio-Barberino Tavarnelle: “I can say that at Monsanto since the beginning we have always tried to respect the terroir and the vintage characteristics in all our wines. In the almost 60 years of our history there have been several changes in the winemaking processes and also the viticultural ones but I can say that they have always been marginal towards the imperative dictated that all our wines needs and needed to show the peculiarities of our piece of land together with the respect of the indigenous varietals. We have never changed the blend of our Chianti Classico wines – even in the 90’s “Super Tuscans” period… when it was really difficult to sell sangiovese wines.”

Duccio Corsini, Principe Corsini – Villa Le Corti, San Casciano in Val di Pesa: “As you know when I started managing Villa Le Corti I had no viticultural background or specific family tradition, even though my family has owned Le Corti since 1363. So I would set the first pin in 1997 after five years of observing and learning. What I understood was the wines needed not only to be good because there was a good amount of good wine in Chianti Classico; they needed to be different in the sense of unique. So I abandoned the market trend, “the Parker style” and started searching for a Ville Le Corti natural style and identity in wine. I introduced a punchdown system and open vats vinification. I also understood that estate identity (terroir or better said, “genius loci”) is a very delicate concept, easy to ruin if you go by the book so there comes the second pin date 2005. This is the year I introduced after five years of experimentation, our unique selection of yeasts. Expensive but very important to emphasize terroir. 2010 was the vintage when I discovered the extensive use of cement vats to age Le Corti vintage (Annata). This is also the year I decided to reduce dramatically the use of new barriques and introduced 500 and 700L barrels for Don Tommaso Gran Selezione. 2014 like all hard years allowed me to understand how important is the quality of the fruit and how much added value you get in wine when you preserve the berry and you don’t crush it before putting it in the fermentation tank. That is the year when I changed the de-stemming machine, (instead) introducing a selecting machine. But the major change came in 2015 with my son Flippo starting the Fico Wine project. Perfection and integrity of fruit produced in my opinion is the most transparent representation of our terroir. In addition of no added sulfites and no filtration. Fermentation happened in barrels and ageing in the same barrels. In 2019 the main fermentation cellar was equipped with conveyor belts that brought the berry to the vats without ruining the skin; fermentation did the rest in a very natural timing and no hurry.”

Marco Ricasoli-Firidolfi, Rocca di Montegrossi, Monti-Gaiole: “I can’t say that a particular vintage has marked the turning point for me as a winemaker. I believe that each vintage, year after year has added a new chapter to the winemaking history, giving me a deeper understanding on the choices to make in the vineyards. Sadly, there’s no strict or clear rules to follow, because the climate affects each decision, and month after month you may need to chance or revise the decisions that were taken earlier. But, after more than 25 vintages I feel I now have some understanding of viticulture. Additionally, since 2015 I also have two consulting agronomists that help me to make the best decisions.”

Roberto Stucchi Prinetti, Badia a Coltibuono, Gaiole: “I started managing Badia a C in 1985 and I always tried to allow the wines to express the place so I have a hard time finding a turning point because I always maintained the course. However in the last few decades the challenge has been adapting to the dramatic variations in climate. From this point of view a turning point was 2011, one of the hottest and driest vintages (until then…  we break records frequently nowadays).  In 2011 we had a record sized crop and one the most outstanding vintages and realized that in today’s climate it actually helps to have a larger crop that will delay maturation a bit.”

Sergio Zingarelli, Rocca delle Macìe

Sergio Zingarelli, Rocca delle Macìe, Castellina in Chianti: “I would say that vintage 2010 was the result of our company’s major investments, renovation of the vineyards and of the cellars, as well as the ageing procedures and containers, which began at the end of the 1990s with the aim of obtaining excellent grapes. That one was also the year in which Lorenzo Landi started his consulting activity with our winemaking team and the first vintage of the Gran Selezione Sergio Zingarelli. This I would say was really the harvest and the year of the turning point!”

Sebastiano Capponi, Villa Calcinaia, Montefioralle-Greve: “I think 2014 was a recent vintage that really set a watershed for the whole appellation as it showed to the wine world that in Chianti Classico even in small vintages producers were able to make not only delicious wine but age worthy ones. If you think of the last rainy vintage in Chianti Classico which was 2002, I have to admit that it was a worse harvest than 2014, and you look at which important wines each winery decided to make that year and you compare it with the 2014 winemaking decisions, it feels like a century has gone by not just a little over a decade. I think that winemakers in Chianti Classico now have the ability, like Roberto Conterno had in 2002 when he made Monfortino, to interpret every single vintage without distorting what nature bestows to them.”

Iacopo Morganti, Il Molino di Grace, Panzano-Greve: “Vintage 2016 is the turning point in the cellar, by taking up the Grand Selection and trying to bring freshness, cleanliness and fruit – all characteristics for making a wine that I like.”

With Federica Mascheroni

Federica Mascheroni, Volpaia, Radda: “I think it’s not a vintage but luckily it is a team :-). I have the same team In the vineyards and the cellars, working for Volpaia since a long time. The experience collected in these years and in the different vintages help us to make the right choices; but at the same the particular microclimate of Volpaia, terroir, exposition and soil are making the difference. As you know, we are over 600meters above sea level in the Radda district where we have a nice quantity of surface cover by forest and this changes very much the clime of the area and makes hot summers much “fresher.”

Alessandra Casini Bindi Sergardi, Bindi Sergardi, Castelnuovo Berardenga: “2016. It is a great vintage for Tuscany, for Chianti Classico generally speaking; it is a “must have in my cellar vintage”. 2016 allowed our Chianti Classico Pyramid to express itself at its best. The season was perfect and our vineyards had the possibility of expressing their personality, style and authenticity without having to compromise with frost, drought, excessive heat etc. The vineyards of Tenuta Mocenni, in the Vagliagli area, face south, are at 1600 feet (500 meters) and are surrounded by woods; they need time to reach maturation. The weather of 2016 allowed us to harvest after the first week of October reaching the peak of maturation and quality of their terroir.”

Francesco Ricasoli, Ricasoli 1141 – Barone Ricasoli, Gaiole: “I would say that there have been several “turning points” because the wish is always improve and getting “ahead” with experience and learning from mistakes. If I have to mention a vintage I would say 2015 or when we decided to release this vintage as the first one of our single vineyard pure sangiovese, Colledilà, Roncicone and CeniPrimo. These three wines are the result of many years of researches in trying to find the different “expression” of sangiovese planted on different soils (limestone, marine deposit and fluvial terraces). This work has been done in a very meticulous way, year after year, without being impatient or finding the shortest cut to prove something. It gave us the satisfaction of something done properly and the work is still ongoing.”

Susanna Grassi, I Fabbri, Lamole-Greve: “The vintage is 2015: This has been generally a warm vintage, which at the highest elevation of Lamole is the best. In this year we had the chance to produce all our range, even Gran Selezione I Fabbri (100 per cent sangiovese) and Il Doccio (100 per cent merlot) that we produce in rare vintages and that are able to show the best of our quality. In 2015 every variety we cultivated in all the vineyards showed an incredible quality which allowed us to vinify them separately and bottle them with different labels. Each, in my opinion, was able to show its unique terroir: Acidity and freshness for Lamole (100 per cent sangiovese); acidity and velvet for Olinto (sangiovese/merlot); incredible and surprising minerality for Lamole origin (100 per cent sangiovese) and Il Doccio (100 per cent merlot); Terra di Lamole:  structure in unison with acidity (sangiovese/canaiolo); I Fabbri Riserva:Elegance and depth, best selection (sangiovese/canaiolo); I Fabbri Gran Selezione – embroidery of authentic finesse.”

Vicky Schmitt-Vitali and Guido Vitali, Le Fonti in Panzano

Vicky Schmitt-Vitali, Le Fonti, Panzano-Greve: “Starting with 2006 and 2007 for us – first top years in our making without my dad. Perfect vineyard conditions, great growing conditions & weather. Then later on with the constant weather changes and ever hotter summer 2015 and 2016 taught us a lot about managing the dry heat better, leaving the “green harvest” for much later in the season to even out the sugars and not over burden the single grape bunches. So many seasonal works had to be adapted due to the extreme weather conditions.”

Michael Schmelzer, Monte Bernardi, Panzano: “I can’t say there was a recent vintage that marked a turning point in my style per se, as our philosophy has been pretty much the same since the beginning. Evolving with experience but always with the same goals and philosophy. That being said, the 2005 vintage was the most important vintage experience of my career beacuse it shaped the way I think as grower and as a winemaker. It was my third vintage at Monte Bernardi and it was a difficult one. It rained five out of seven days for weeks on end as we approached harvest. I was practicing organic farming from day one at our farm but not with a whole lot of experience. This finish to season was truly challenging my notions of whether we could farm organically. Every time a new storm approached at night I’d look out the window, worried about how much rain was on its way with this new storm. Would it be too much for our berries to handle? Would the berries split or would grey mold start and ruin our whole crop before it had a chance to fully ripen, before we had a chance to harvest? It was so stressful. In the end we did have mold, a significant percentage, but we hand sorted every bunch and made our wines. The resulting crop was smaller, however the wines ended up being a wonderful reflection of a difficult vintage. I came away from that experience with more confidence in organic farming because neighbouring Panzano farms who did not farm organically lost a lot more crop to mold than we did and we were able to keep our fruit on the vine longer which gave us a better quality wine. We fermented that harvest with native yeasts, like the previous years, even though with so much mold I had my doubts there too, doubts seeded from my university degree in enology. I am so glad I didn’t succumb, as I would have convinced myself it wasn’t possible to ferment with native yeasts in such a difficult year. I have never had another doubt about farming organically or fermenting with native yeasts after that early challenging vintage at Monte Bernardi. It was the most formative experience and has influenced how I think about everything we do both in the fields and in the winery.”

Roberto Bianchi, Val delle Corti, Radda: “It is a progression/combination of experiences and of constantly changing – and challenging – vintages, that made us and our wines what they are, more than a specific point in the recent history of Val delle Corti. There are nevertheless three ‘turning points’ along it that may well represent this evolution. In 1999 my father Giorgio died quite unexpectedly and the sky – and Val delle Corti – fell on my head. No idea how to run a winery nor how to make a great wine. I just continued what I thought my father would do and added a lot of intuition of my own. But I was immensely scared. Later on I could realize that the millenium switch had exactly corresponded with the true beginning of a steady climate change. To the advantage of Radda and Val delle Corti. 2005 was the “2TP,” a difficult, rather hot but then dominantly cool year. The wine was for the first three years after picking quite undrinkable, hard, acidic, really grumpy. Desperate. And then sudden epiphany : A subtleness, an elegance, an unexpected finesse. Val delle Corti could bring out fine but complex, delicate wines. And especially on cooler, difficult, Bourgogne-reminding vintages. The proof of this came then in 2014, a cold, dark, humid, mould-haunted, devilly difficult year. We lost about 40 per cent of the crop. But what was left gave us some of the most delicate and moving wines we have ever produced. Indeed Val delle Corti identity is to be searched in the vertical dimension, must express the Radda-sangiovese straightness, vertical intensity and ‘droiture’. This is the mission we are committed to.”

Paolo de Marchi, Isole e Olena, Barberino-Tavarnelle: “Michael, very difficult to give short answers to your questions, building a wine estate after the collapse of sharecropping in the late sixties has been a lifetime project where decisions taken many years ago have determined what we are today. Living on a vineyard I had to understand what the difference between animals (i.e. humans) and plants: we react and make quick decisions, changing our lives for the best (or worse…), plants (vines) cannot move and tend to adapt themselves to ever changing conditions. I think a successful vintner has to understand the needs of his vines and help them in the effort of adapting. As a result, no quick events, no life changing revelations but a vision and lots of small decision tending to make the vision become real…What Isole e Olena is now, is the result of a path I briefly resume here: 1977: In my second vintage I started to tag all sangiovese vines showing above average quality. I bought the first small new oak barrels and I started to use less white grapes in the Chianti blend. 1980: First vintage of Cepparello, pure sangiovese issued from the tagged vines (= massal selection).1982: A huge hail storm in May ended in a very limited but really excellent quality: Mother Nature was showing me that we were producing too high yields. 1986: After the Italian wines “methanol scandal”, a five days meeting with a group of young new vintners discussing how to overcome the crisis and invest in territorial vines, this was really a mind opening experience. 1987: Planted my first new vineyard, higher density of plantation, an in depth study of the soils of the estate (what today is called “zoning”). Rootstock were field grafted with all the best vines tagged in the ten years period. This has really been the foundation vineyard of Isole e Olena of the future. 1990s: Micro-vinifications of single vines grapes in order to select the best individuals among the previously tagged vines. 2001:Fiirst new vineyard planted entirely with our own selections. 2011: The research on local strains of yeasts and the importance of social insects in preserving them from year to year: defining how the origin is a much deeper concept involving all the life around our vineyard. 2010/2020: Working on canaiolo the same path of research done with sangiovese, more and more convinced how important canaiolo is to give the real Chianti Classico expression.”

Manfred Ing, Querciabella, Greve: “Since joining Querciabella in 2010, the turning point for me was around the 2015 and 2016 vintages. Thanks to our hard work with our plant based biodynamics, I feel we reached a great understanding of the minute details of our vineyard sites and consequently we started to truly express their uniqueness. This particularly applies to our Sangiovese which we grow in the 3 different sub zones in the three communes. In the cantina, with the same meticulous attention to details we fine-tuned our winemaking to really bring to life these unique characteristics in our wines. For the first time in 2016 our blend of 60+ single vineyard micro-fermentions from Greve, Radda and Gaiole were aged predominately in larger oak vessels (500L and 3000L) as opposed to smaller barrels (225L). These finer details, such as this gradual transition of the oak vessels sizes, are all just some of the small steps we continually take to optimise our expression of Sangiovese moving forward.”

 

The tendency of over-extracting during the maceration process and the fixation on the amount of polyphenols in the wine, the more the better, were as we say in Italy, “peccati di gioventù.”

  Sebastiano Capponi, Villa Calcinaia

 

Rushing belongs to humans and not to nature, always respect conditions and the needs of nature, never force time and wait patiently

  Susanna Grassi, I Fabbri

 

I’ve made a lot of mistakes – I’ve been in wine for 30 years now, but what I remember was bottling a white wine that’s not ready yet, very good to drink but ugly to look at

  Iacopo Morganti, Il Molino di Grace

 

Quality could be defined in different ways. In my way complexity with balance became the absolute priority, well above power

   Paolo de Marchi, Isole e Olena

 

Alessandra Casini Bindi Sergardi introduces the Mocceni Estate

What mistakes have you made and how have you learned from them so that you can make better wines and the wines you need to make form your property?

Alessandra Casini Bindi Sergardi, Bindi Sergardi: “We have learned to trust the vine, the specific vineyard, more than anything else. Years ago, when we did not produce cru wines, if the wine form a very good vineyard did not taste as we expected, we would blend it. Through time we have learned to believe in the vineyard and even if it may be disappointing in a specific moment, it will eventually show its personality. It is a matter of time. Of course every vintage is different but the essence does not change. We have learned to trust sangiovese 100 per cent; Mocenni has a soil and a microclimate that produces outstanding sangiovese, the essence of the Chianti Classico tradition. We have learned not to generalize. Attention to details can make a huge difference – giving specific attention to each vineyard; they need to be treated differently even if a few meters apart.”

Francesco Ricasoli, Ricasoli 1141 – Barone Ricasoli: “The market is always asking for “news” and the pressure is always on our neck for “new” things to bring on the market but when you learn to take the time you need to reach your goals you feel better and your products are of much higher quality and integrity.”

Susanna Grassi, I Fabbri: “Mistakes? Well, I have always made them in every aspect of my life! Yet, I’m an optimist and I’m always ready to accept and to learn from them…! The major mistakes I have done are related to timing. Each time I tried to force nature and its course because I was in a hurry, it always created problems for me and I needed to wait double the initial time to resolve it! In particular I have one memory. Once I had to bottle for one of my customers who was in a hurry but conditions were not right. It was a cold winter, early January, our basic cellar has no heating system, as a consequence the temperature was too cold! When the wine left its warm concrete tank the thermic shock was so important that the wine needed double the normal amount of time to refine before it could reach its perfect balance! Rushing belongs to humans and not to nature, always respect conditions and the needs of nature, never force time and wait patiently. In Lamole,  more than in other areas, temperature is an important factor, especially if cold! ( this for sure was a simple mistake. At the time I was a beginner wine producer and was afraid to loose an important order. However, what an important lesson for was it for me!)

Vicky Schmitt-Vitali, Le Fonti: “Quite a few and one constantly learns. Adapting to making a 100 per cent sangiovese compared to always having our five to 10 per cent merlot and cabernet added changed the oak ageing quite a bit. Wine making is constantly evolving, better methods, less intervention.”

Roberto Bianchi, Val delle Corti: “I make mistakes every day. Luckily they haven’t been too relevant – until now … In 2014 I had a stainless steel vat which was refusing to start fermenting. I introduced a long infrared heating lamp from above, wanting to pierce the one-meter thick skin layer in order to reach the liquid most underneath. But the skins where so thick and solid, that the lamp didn’t make it through and turned up again, unseen in the skins. I lit the lamp and went out or dinner with my wife. When we came back some 3 hours later, we so already by parking the car thick smoke coming slowly out of the outdoor part of the cellar. The vat was slowly burning, the skins, dried out by the overheating of the big lamp, caramelized and finally took fire. I had invented a new way to give premium wine a ‘toast’ scent without investing fortunes in useless and redundant new french barriques …Only old wood should come in touch with our sangiovese.”

Paolo de Marchi, Isole e Olena

Paolo de Marchi, Isole e Olena: “Most times, even mistakes become clear time after they have been made when you realize the vines have taken a different direction from the one you wanted…When my genetical work started to show huge improvements, I got very excited with the the results and planted some vineyard with very limited genetical richness. The consequence: The wines from those vineyards showed high quality but lack of complexity. The lesson: Quality could be defined in different ways. In my way complexity with balance became the absolute priority, well above power and in the more recent vineyards I planted good material but as diverse and rich as possible.”

Manfred Ing, Querciabella: “Probably underestimating our vines ability to handle the vintage extremities. In the last decade that I have been here in the valley, I have witnessed diverse climate changes and challenges that Mother Nature has thrown at us, forcing us to pay even more attention in the vineyards. Thanks to our plant based approach to biodynamics, we have become more knowledgeable and responsive. For example, the lessons we learned by handing the warmth of the ’11 and ’12 vintages, which produced some spectacular wines, allowed us to make even better wines in ’15 and ’17 which had similar conditions. The cooler ’14 vintage with its challenges resulted in us deciding not to release our Camartina, Palafreno and Turpino. But out of it came our Chianti Classico and Riserva which were produced in smaller quantities but still of the highest quality as expected at Querciabella.”

Giovanni Manetti, Fontodi: “Mistakes are useful to improve and to learn that working hard is a must. When I was young sometimes in the winemaking I was looking more for extreme limits than harmony and balance but getting older with maturity I realized that it was a mistake.”

Laura Bianchi, Castello di Monsanto: “At the end of the 90s and beginning in 2000 we started to use barriques on Il Poggio. I remember in particular the vintage 2001 when we decided to age the wine entirely in new oak barriques. The wine was overpowered by the oak. It took almost 10 years to rebalance the oak. Now it is a beautiful wine, the wine won over the oak, but for sure was a winemaking mistake that made us learn how careful we need to be in picking the right type of oak for sangiovese. It also taught to us that sangiovese needs its time, we can not force it, we need to wait and the bottle aging is so important. This is way we do not release Il Poggio before five years from the harvest, with a minimum of two years in bottle.”

Duccio Corsini, Principe Corsini – Villa Le Corti: “I cannot count the mistakes made in these 28 years. I am considered a hands on education program. Only curious people make mistakes and learn from them.”

Marco Firidolfi-Ricasoli, Rocca di Montegrossi

Marco Ricasoli-Firidolfi, Rocca di Montegrossi: “To be wrong and admit your own errors is a big help to improvement. Certainly, in agriculture the climate/weather has a big influence on the final results, so if it difficult to rate this single variable. You can make predictions, but at the end some choices based on the weather trend are all very similar to “small bets.” What I’ve learned in all those past years is trying to listen to the people and professionals that are your consultants but at the end taking the final decision for yourself. But in the end, those who come with the smallest mistakes have the best results! I don’t think I’ve done any big or unfixable mistakes in my winemaking history. But I can recall the last one, last year, when I have left a little too much grape on few vineyards. The fortunate thing is that the weather in September was so favourable that nonetheless the grapes managed to ripen very well and given an excellent result. I still need to get the hang of the guyot, which is more productive than the cordone. This year, I  have certainly learnt a lesson …”

Roberto Stucchi Prinetti, Badia a Coltibuono: “In 1997 when we moved production to the new winery we also started using commercial yeast and for a few vintages we had serious problems of reductions, stuck fermentations and Brettanomyces.  Going back to biodiverse fermentations with a starter of grapes from our vineyards turned out to be all that was needed to solve these problems. Also, with Sangiovese the wines fermented with their own yeast tend to be more complex.”

Sergio Zingarelli, Rocca delle Macìe: “In 1980 my father planted many hectares of vineyards, with the aim of obtaining quality grapes, but with an obsolete technique and agricultural vision. With the new vinicultural knowledge and from the observation of our vineyards we decided to renew most of those vineyards with the new goal of “excellence” so more plants per hectare, extremely careful attention and parcel control of the individual vineyards to let every single soil express at its best. Actually I do not feel like to say that we made mistakes, surely we were and are in continuous growth and every day we work hard to be better than the day before using all the experience collected in these almost 50 years of Rocca delle Macìe.”

Sebastiano Capponi, Villa Calcinaia: “The mistakes I have made are the typical mistakes of youth when you are trying hard to leave your own imprint in your management and make things in the different way than before. Mind you some of the innovations, like the organic farming or preserving the estate genome by planting all the different varietals found in the old share cropping vine lanes, were good decisions. Others like the tendency of over-extracting during the maceration process and the fixation on the amount of polyphenols in the wine, the more the better, were as we say in Italy, “peccati di gioventù.” In time you come to understand that in order for a wine to be great, and I am quoting Paul Trimbach here, it needs only three main features; balance, balance, balance.”

Iacopo Morganti, Il Molino di Grace: “I’ve made a lot of mistakes – I’ve been in wine for 30 years now, but what I remember was bottling a white wine that’s not ready yet, very good to drink but ugly to look at.”

Federica Mascheroni, Volpaia: “Every day we have to work with nature and every day we can try to predict the future, but each moment it is the nature, clime, etc. that make the change and the more we grow the more we have to listen to them. This is one of the reasons why I think it is important to be organic, fill the nature and follow it instead of “acting and trying to contrast them.”

 

I do believe that Gran Selezione must be a single vineyard

  Laura Bianchi, Castello di Monsanto

 

It is again the nature that make the first difference. The second important moment is the work in the cellar where we wish to find in our wines the terroir and the vintage

  Federica Mascheroni, Volpaia

 

The quality and style of the wine, at the end, is more important than the classification!

  Francesco Ricasoli, Ricasoli 1141 – Barone Ricasoli

 

So you see Michele, we have been producing a ‘Gran Selezione’ already for 45 years now…”

   Roberto Bianchi, Val delle Corti

 

The endless complexities that come from the different villages is a very unique situation for us in the Chianti Classico

   Manfred Ing, Querciabella

 

Roberto Stucchi Prinetti, Badia a Coltibuono

What defines your reasoning in how you produce Riserva and other then aging time, what truly differentiates it from your Annata? 

Roberto Stucchi Prinetti, Badia a Coltibuono: “We make Riserva selecting each year the best vineyards or part of vineyards for that vintage. We do a partial early harvest in those vineyards and pick the grapes for Riserva last, usually in early October at the end of harvest. The next step is after a first year of aging when we do the final selection (…la vera grande selezione ) of the lots that will be part of the blend. Usually at that point we finalize the Annata blend and reincorporate some of the Riserva lots in it. Compared to the Annata the Riserva has more stamina, more body, denser tannins. With Annata we want a fresher expression, with Riserva a much deeper one.”

Sergio Zingarelli, Rocca delle Macìe: “Obviously our Gran Selezione wines refine more in wood than the Riservas, but the important thing is that for us, in addition to being produced with proprietary grapes, they are also derived from selections of individual vineyards. Our Riserva black label is the result of all our terroirs as a selection of the best grapes from our vineyards as well as the Chianti Classico Annata, but obviously we use grapes from younger vineyards, with the aim of obtaining fresher wines with great fruit, but also more adaptable to every palate and meal.”

Sebastiano Capponi, Villa Calcinaia: “The three wines have different purposes in my opinion. When we make the blending for the Annata the main feature we think the wine should have is “serbevolezza,” which is a similar concept to one expressed by the French word “digestible,” often used by Eric Asimov to describe wines which are easy to drink without being simple. A Chianti Classico Annata should be first and foremost “serbevole,” allowing the wine to be paired with many different dishes without smothering them. It’s like those great Hollywood actors who were often used in supporting roles because they could play different parts in such an amazing way and without overshadowing the main star of the movie. I have a soft spot for these wines and they are probably the ones I drink most. When you make the blending for the Riserva instead your are trying to make a wine that will not be ready to drink right away but which will disclose its qualities slowly over time. It will not have the same versatility of the Annata therefore it should be paired with more structured dishes which one does not usually eat everyday. If I can make a whisky comparison our Riserva is our best “blended,” even if it is made nine times out of 10 with only Sangiovese from a selection of grapes coming from multiple vineyards. If the Riserva is the winery’s best “blended” then our Gran Selezione are the winery’s Single Malts. In this case it’s not the winemaker showing his blending skills by mixing the different vineyards together but the single vineyard expressing herself in a more natural and distinctive way. The only evaluation the winemaker needs to make before bottling is if the vineyard has expressed her character distinctively enough in that specific vintage in order to be allowed to be bottled by herself. Certain single vineyards may have a character which reminds more of the Annata, others more of the Riserva, but the important thing for me is that they should be distinctive and recognizable throughout the different vintages.”

With Iacopo Morganti of Il Molino di Grace at Castellana, Montefioralle

Iacopo Morganti, Il Molino di Grace: “La Riserva is always an important historical wine even if when the Grand Selection arrived I would have liked not to do it again. Then I changed my idea also because the market always required that type. For me the Riserva must have the characteristics of the vintage but with a different body, greater concentration and elegance.”

Federica Mascheroni, Volpaia: “One of the first differences starts since the beginning, during the picking of the grapes. The Riserva and the Annata come from the same vineyards but for the Riserva we select the best grapes. It is again the nature that make the first difference. The second important moment is the work in the cellar where we wish to find in our wines the terroir and the vintage.”

Alessandra Casini Bindi Sergardi, Bindi Sergardi: “Chianti Classico Riserva and Chianti Classico come from two different vineyards and although both are 100 per cent Sangiovese, they reflect two different concepts and styles of wine. The soils, the specific vineyards give birth to wines with specific taste and characteristics that correspond to what we have grown to believe a Riserva and a Chianti Classico are. Calidonia, our Riserva coming from the Vineyard Signora Chiara, is a tremendously elegant wine, you can lose yourself in the glass finding the different nuances that change continuously. It is a wine that is more apt to age, a wine that you can enjoy through its evolution with continuous surprises. The Riserva is intelligent, experienced and knowledgeable. You have to discover her sip after sip. La Ghirlanda, Chianti Classico Annata, is a bit easier to understand, more fruit forward, you can drink it young and yet you can keep it for some years in your cellar and enjoy its elegant evolution. La Ghirlanda is like a book that you read to relax, it gives you the joy to travel with your imagination through the Chianti Classico region; its sunny climate, its hills, its landscape.”

Francesco Ricasoli, Ricasoli 1141 – Barone Ricasoli: “I have been among those producers of Chianti Classico favouring for the introduction of Gran Selezione because Riserva was not representing anymore the peak of excellence in our appellation. Chianti Classico has been going through a “revolution” in the last 25 years or more, re-inventing itself, producing among the most interesting and elegant sangiovese around the world. Having said the above you know that our grand vin Castello di Brolio is now Gran Selezione, but until 2009 it was just labelled Chianti Classico (Not Riserva) although from a production and quality point of view nothing has changed from before or after 2010 in the way we produce it. The quality and style of the wine, at the end, is more important than the classification!”

Deep into Greve there is Lamole ~ Tasting at Casole with Susanna Grassi and 17 years of @ifabbriclassico ~ what a great night in Chianti Classico

Susanna Grassi, I Fabbri: “At I Fabbri, Riserva is produced using grapes cultivated in specific vineyards, our old vines that are located in lower altitude (450- 550m). In those vineyards (Pianaccio, Pian del Doccio, Terrazze), the first day of harvest is dedicated to the harvest of the best grapes which will be vinified separately to be bottled as Riserva. A longer ageing in French oak tonneaux of 12 months completes the process. Our recipe? Specific vineyards, selected grapes and longer ageing. On the other hand, our Chianti Classico Annata from the same vineyards is produced with the rest of the grapes and the wine has a different ageing: French oak tonneaux for 50 per cent of the wine and traditional concrete tanks for the other 50. Other Chianti Classico (Lamole and Olinto) are produced with different vines, the one located in highest elevations (630-680m) and the wine produced is aged just in traditional concrete tanks.”

Vicky Schmitt-Vitali, Le Fonti: “Each vineyard parcel is picked on its own and fermented on its own. We have a lot of small fermentation vats to enable these selections. Generally we already have an idea before harvest which parcels will make it for Riserva or Annata or Gran Selezione, but only after the fermentation has finished do we confirm or change it. So for Riserva only the best selections of sangiovese together with a tiny bit of merlot and cabernet sauvignon are added. The Riserva then stays 24 months in barrels, about 20 per cent new oak, mostly French but usually also one 500 litre Hungarian oak tonneaux, before being bottled and then resting in bottle for another nine to 12 months.”

Roberto Bianchi, Val delle Corti: “Easy answer: Single vineyard. Ever since my father’s time the higher located, wood-surrounded vineyard north of the house is the very best cru in Val delle in Corti. The Riserva selection has always come from there: 100 per cent sangiovese old clones, separately picked, fermented and aged in very old barriques and tonneaux. If we are not satisfied with the result, this selection may be downgraded back to the Chianti Classico Annata. So you see Michele, we have been producing a ‘Gran Selezione’ already for 45 years now…”

Paolo de Marchi, Isole e Olena: “I do not produce an official “Riserva,” not since the mid 80s, when Cepparello got well established on the market, but I think we could say that in my mind sangiovese in Chianti Classico has a great flexibility expressed in two different styles, both great. It delivers wines which are a joy as medium bodied, fresh and enjoyable in their youth, with lively acidity, easy to match with an ample array of food, even drunk slightly cool: A perfect “table wine” to be enjoyed on the table with friends, the Italian way. On the other side, wines with much more structure, which have the potential to age for a long time and gain complexity. It depends on the vineyards, the vintage, the Winemaker but both expression are as noble and great, I refuse the concept of first and second wine but rather like the idea of two different expressions. With the recent introduction of Gran Selezione I was hoping to see a home back in the Appellation for many so called “super Tuscan” whose compositions could now fit in the new appellation rules, wines where small additions of other varietals could tame sangiovese when it becomes too angular… But this is a different story and it seems it is not going to happen…”

Manfred Ing, Querciabella: “Starting in 2010 we introduced a new vineyard by vineyard, site by site approach to picking the grapes, micro-fermentation in 3 and 5 ton oak and cement tanks of each site, followed by separate ageing in oak barrels and tonneaux of the various lots right up until blending. What distinguishes the Riserva from the Annata is that the grape picking decisions and selections of the parcels of fruit for the Riserva not only depend on the vineyard/village as a whole, but can sometimes be the first 3 rows of vines or up until the 5th pole in the vineyard. With this more specific approach and thanks to the symbiosis of the vineyard and winemaking team, we decided to release a 100% Sangiovese Riserva from a small selection of the 2011 vintage. A special moment for us considering we stopped releasing our Riserva back in 1999. The intensity of our Riserva I think is down to a combination of parcels for fruit from the 3 different sub zones where we grow our Sangiovese. The endless complexities that come from the different villages is a very unique situation for us in the Chianti Classico where producers generally make wines from one village or hillside where their winery is situated. The ageing of the Riserva is similar to the Annata in the sense that they both age for 14-16 months in oak with just the new oak percentage being slightly higher for the Riserva (always less than 20%).”

Giovanni Manetti, Fontodi: “I don’t produce any Riserva but only Fontodi CC and Vigna del Sorbo CC Gran Selezione. The main difference is that VdS is a single vineyard, one of the most beautiful of Fontodi estate with very old vines capable to make a superior quality with more finesse and depth every year.”

Laura Bianchi, Castello di Monsanto

Laura Bianchi, Castello di Monsanto: “Since 20 years we have vinified all our Chianti Classico parcels separately. This method (more than 50 parcels) allows us to know exactly what is going on in each single parcels vintage after vintage. Then we start to taste them blind (so not to be influenced by knowing the origin) and after several tastings we define which parcel is going into Annata and which one into Riserva. Gran Selezione is always produced in the single vineyard Il Poggio. I do believe that GS must be a single vineyard.”

Duccio Corsini, Principe Corsini – Villa Le Corti: “Today i don’t think that Riserva is qualifying; Gran Selezione is the great challenge for the future, At  Le Corti we decide what is fit to age in bottle with added value at the end of vinification.

Marco Ricasoli-Firidolfi, Rocca di Montegrossi: “I do not produce Riserva. I only produce Gran Selezione. Compared with the Chianti Classico Annata (that I like to call battleship), the Gran Selezione is a single-vineyard wine from partly 50 and partly 26 year-old plants. It comes from a very strict selection, with a two to three weeks maceration at the end of the alcoholic fermentation, which is carried out in conic shaped barrels. Our Gran Selezione has the contribution of a small percentage of pugnitello which gives its special touch to the final result.”

 

However Canada has held up very well and we are very proud of this, sign of the great branding work done in the past

 Sergio Zingarelli – Rocca delle Macìe

 

Covid has confirmed our values and human relationships are fundamental in our ethos

  Alessandra Casini Bindi Sergardi, Bindi Sergardi

 

The virus, crossing fingers, is under control and sales are going back to pre-Covid

  Giovanni Manetti, Fontodi

 

The situation could become very critical for many producers

  Roberto Stucchi Prinetti, Badia a Coltibuono

 

Vintage 2020 has been a challenge in part, many more beasts around. With the pandemic and no traffic on the main roads for nearly three months I ended up having three mamas with more than 20 little ones

  Vicky Schmitt-Vitali, Le Fonti

 

Sebastiano Capponi, Villa Calcinaia

How are things going in Chianti Classico, both from the perspective of the vintage and from the pandemic?

Sebastiano Capponi, Villa Calcinaia: “The 2020 vintage is looking good but the grape quantities will be less in Chianti Classico than last year. It will not be an early harvest, the grapes are slowly going through veraison as we speak, but if the weather holds it will be another year like 2016 or 2010. About the pandemic things are tough especially for wineries, like mine, which dealt mainly or exclusively with the HO.RE.CA. sector but the Capponi have survived the black plague of 1348 and the plague of 1630 and I am sure that we will manage to recover from the COVID of 2020.”

Iacopo Morganti, Il Molino di Grace: “At the moment the vintage 2020 is good. We decided to reduce the quantity and make probably 40 per cent less like the turnover so far. In Chianti area we are probably one week in advance for the maturation but all can change in the last mount. For the pandemic we have to see what happens in September and October otherwise the problem became very big. Speriamo bene.”

Federica Mascheroni, Volpaia: “For the vintage I can give you a personal perspective. I didn’t call my winemaker who is finally taking some holiday after the difficult period we are living. The next weeks we will start with the picking of the grapes in Maremma. It looks a very nice vintage, with a nice rainfall during spring and now the good clime for the growing. In Maremma we are already planning the picking of the grapes but in Volpaia we still have in the front several weeks and you know better than me, everything is still possible. Anyhow for the moment I’m thinking it could be a good vintage, but I will talk more later. :-)”

Alessandra Casini Bindi Sergardi, Bindi Sergardi: “The 2020 vintage started off with challenges: we faced two frosts in March that luckily did not hit us too hard (approximately five per cent production loss). Up to now Summer has not been too hot and the vines did not suffer drought due to rainfalls during Spring. The vineyards are enjoying a big difference between day and night temperatures. Quality is looking good but as always we need to wait until we harvest in October. The pandemic has hit our territory. Chianti Classico is a wine that is distributed mainly through restaurants and hotels which have been closed for some time all over the world. In Chianti Classico we all suffered the absence of foreign wine lovers and tourists. At the same time Italians started travelling again in Italy and it is great to have people from other regions coming and ‘rediscovering’ Chianti Classico. Generally speaking we faced a reduction of turnover, but if we all have a positive attitude we can overcome the difficulties. It is crucial that we all concentrate on what can be done instead of complaining about what we have lost. Covid is a challenge and a source of deep reflection. As Bindi Sergardi we focused on people. People – our team: all of us attended online courses for professional growth, we made our team feel protected and aware that we are behind them and not planning to downsize them; – People – our partners: trying to help where and when possible, listening to their difficulties and thinking of different ways to stay close to the sales team; — People – our consumers: maintained the contact as much as possible, we have opened a Wine Club with a shop on-line in order to keep them close while in safety. Covid has confirmed our values and human relationships are fundamental in our ethos.”

When you take a drive with @francescoricasoli you stop to breathe in the air. Castle behind sold separately ~ #gaioleinchianti #baronericasoli

Francesco Ricasoli, Ricasoli 1141 – Barone Ricasoli: “We are close from harvest and right now (August 20th) we would need some healthy rainfall. This vintage could turn out such as a 2017 or also another excellent vintage (if it rains). COVID-19: Still too early to say but for the majority of quality wine producers it has been (and still is) a big problem because of the shut down of HORECA. For the lucky few that sell to supermarkets it has been a double digit growth. Let’s see what happens in autumn…”

Susanna Grassi, I Fabbri: “The vintage in Lamole seems very nice, however we have to wait until the grapes are in the cellar. We had a nice spring, good water in late spring and now there is an alternation of hot and rainy days. Finger crossed, we will see! Pandemic has affected the Chianti Classico wine and zone. The area is empty, no tourism, which is an important factor for our economy; sales have been affected due to the lockdown of restaurants, especially for small “niche” wineries that don’t have any access to the supermarkets. I personally think e-commerce can be a good opportunity…but…this is another skill to add!”

Vicky Schmitt-Vitali, Le Fonti: “Generally it is going ok-ish here. We continued working in the vineyards and cellars throughout the whole time and got lots of things done in the vineyard and olive groves due to the good weather and no outside distraction as visitors or wine fairs… since mid-July there has been quite a busy European and domestic tourism for wine tastings and tours. Vintage 2020 has been a challenge in part, many more beasts around. We normally have about three to four wild boars coming around all year around, with the pandemic and no traffic on the main roads for nearly three months I ended up having three mamas with more than 20 little ones (who are now not so little anymore and starting to eat). Adding to that a bit of mildew (oidium) which luckily we managed to control. If all goes well we should have quite a fine 2020 harvest by end of September. fingers crossed.”

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

Roberto Bianchi, Val delle Corti: “Difficult situation. We have lost some 6 months of sales and we are all concerned about the risk of speculation on the wine price in hls. Cellars are still full and picking is approaching. Bottling wolves are already howling in the distance …We are lucky, ’cause we produce wines which get excellent while aging, so a longer bottle aging period can only be positive. Will all the small producers be able to resist or will they have to sell under price because they need cash ? This is the main question now, which the Consorzio has to manage now. The market will hopefully recover next year. Beside this, vintage 2020 is looking great: The big starting drought has been defeated just yesterday by long-lasting generous rain. The wished end-of-August weather break has not deceived us. Let us see and think positive.”

Paolo de Marchi, Isole e Olena: “2020 is not in yet, but it seems it is going to be a good vintage, regardless the fact that the climate has been challenging. Covid-19 is certainly charging a huge toll on the estates, sales are down and it will take time to recover. We are on the good side though as at least we have a product which in fact improves in quality if it stays a little longer in the cellars. It is for me very difficult to imagine the long term effect of this disaster, but I think I’m not alone. We will need patience, time and lot of fantasy…”

Giovanni Manetti, Fontodi: “Things are going much better. The virus, crossing fingers, is under control and sales are going back to pre-Covid. At the end of July sales of CC appellation is -10 per cent in comparison with 2019. Regarding the vintage, we have great expectations. The grapes are healthy and ripening well, one week in advance than last year. The vineyards benefit of the extra time that all the vintners dedicated them because the lack of wine fairs and promotional trips.”

Laura Bianchi, Castello di Monsanto: “The 2020 vintage started with a mild winter, the spring was mild in March, cooler in April but without frost problem in our area. May was beautiful and fresh, June with several days of rain which helped the vines. July has been warm but without extreme temperatures. First two weeks of August very hot (35-38°) …grapes look great … but for my superstitious attitude I am not adding anything else ’till all the grapes are in the cellar :-). The markets situation due to Covid : April and May have been really difficult months … most of the markets (with the exception of Northern Europe , like Denmark, Norway, Germany and Belgium ) slowed down dramatically. In June we started to see a reaction, also in Italy. July closed with the same income of last year and August started with a great increase in orders. Of course we are suffering in the on-premise business worldwide but most of our importers react to the situation addressing their sales to different channels. In Italy, where we lost 90 per cent of the on-premise business in April, May and until the beginning of June, we see in the last two months an encouraging recovery of restaurants business. Of course we all are praying that there will not be a second wave…”

Manfred Ing, Querciabella: “After a typical warm Tuscan summer, in the last week of August we received some welcome rain which is setting us up for a pretty special vintage after optimal spring conditions. I’m incredibly happy with our first few barrels of Chardonnay and Pinot bianco for Batar 2020 that are fermenting away… so fingers crossed for the rest of season. It’s the best we can hope for after what has been a challenging year for everyone with this pandemic. At Querciabella were are always concerned about the wellbeing of those around us and we took the whole situation very seriously.  We implemented all measures suggested to contain the spreading of the virus, some of our colleagues were granted parental leave to look after their children and families, and we had to adopt different schedules and spilt shifts in the cellar to guarantee the basic operations. Of course, all trips and events have being cancelled or postponed until further notice, so we are starting to evaluate new strategies and diverse business opportunities. We are confident that we’ll come back with a strong proposition once the situation improves. Personally, I got to spend more time with my kids and wife which was quite special looking back on it.. And after all, if you had to be under lockdown, may as well be in one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world ;)”

With @principecorsini at Le Corti and the many varied shades of his sangiovese. The genesis of San Casciano, right here, as always, right now.

Duccio Corsini, Principe Corsini – Villa Le Corti: “2020 vintage looks good; the colouring of the grapes started some 10 days ahead of normal (17th of July). All can still happen but I feel it will be a good year with some 20% less production due to a front in the beginning of April. The Covid ’19 is hitting very bad. Chianti Classico system showed clearly the week points; Mostly exported. Mostly sold to restaurants. Very long and expensive sales system where were most of the margin is left to middle people. At villa Le Corti we were already organized with a good shop online for consumers and a new b2b online platform for the Italian restaurant that reopened. That said we lost only 40% of sales.”

Marco Ricasoli-Firidolfi, Rocca di Montegrossi: “In Chianti Classico region I can’t say, but for Rocca di Montegrossi things are going well. The first semester of sales have even registered a slight increase than in 2019. During the first three months of 2020 and in the month of June we have sold very well and this allowed us to make up for the -50 per cent of April and -33 per cent of May. So I can’t really complain! So far, the vintage is very promising, but anything can still happen. However, May, June and July had quite cool night average temperatures and moderately warm days, so this has kept the grape in perfect condition. Now it is very warm and we would need some rains … let’s hope to get some rain because a few vineyards are starting their suffering, and I suffer with them …”

Roberto Stucchi Prinetti, Badia a Coltibuono: “The vintage is very promising, and conditions are ideal. The rest is very problematic. Even though Italy did a good job of controlling the pandemic the effects of the lockdown on restaurants and the reduced tourism are having a major impact on sales in Italy. Export markets are also affected by the pandemic again because the closure of restaurants. The situation could become very critical for many producers.”

Sergio Zingarelli, Rocca delle Macìe: “The 2020 vintage is anticipated in all phases, and we are not experiencing any phyto-sanitary issues. Certainly the production this year will not be huge, but for the moment there are all the conditions for a hot but very high quality harvest. As about Covid ,Italy is in great recovery since June, unfortunately there is not the same scenario in the US, one of our main markets. However Canada has held up very well and we are very proud of this, sign of the great branding work done in the past.”

Good to go!

godello

The Gallo Nero of Luiano

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

WineAlign

San Casciano’s nascent time in Chianti Classico

Poggio Torselli

As per the recent wave of Chianti Classico producers creating regional associations because of their shared geographies and ideologies, so too has L’Associazione San Casciano Classico followed suit. Just about one year ago in the Fall of 2018 the producers of San Casciano Val di Pesa organized to promote and protect the wineries of the municipality. This past September there were 19 (of the 23) members of the association on hand to host 13 Canadian journalists and sommeliers for a San Casciano summit at the historical Villa Poggio Torselli.

Villa Poggio Torselli

The villa’s origins are recorded in the land registers as early as the beginning of the 15th century. It is approached by an awe-inspiring boulevard of cypresses and is one of the largest and most elegant residences in the area of the San Casciano Hills, near Florence. “Queen of all villas” as it is known dates back to 1427 bearing the name of Poggio Torselli. These noble family names are associated with the villa; Macchiavelli, Corsini, Strozzi, Antonori, Capponi and Orlandini, who owned the villa until 1722. Status is a draw for important figures, so visits were made by Pope Pius VII who stopped over on his way to Paris to crown Emperor Napoleon in 1804 and also Paul I, Emperor of Russia.

Poggio Torselli Seasons Garden

The gardens are astonishing and surely one of the Chianti Classico territory’s finest. Known as the “Seasons Garden” it was created in the 18th century, teeming with narcissus, tulips, hyacinths, dahlia, sage, clematis and giant Indian hibiscus. Most notable are the fritillaries, also known as “imperial crown” and the entire garden is surrounded by the golden crown of 120 secular lemon trees.

Related – If you’re going to San Casciano

San Casciano the village is also one of eight sub-zones in Chianti Classico’s most northwesterly sector. The full name San Casciano in Val di Pesa tells us that its location is proximate to the valley of the Pesa river and it shares a border with two other communes, Barberino Tavarnelle to the south and Greve in Chianti to the east and southeast.

 

The sangiovese of San Casciano are made in the image of their makers; stoic, serious, at times austere, surely classic and noble. They speak with a succinct and old-school vernacular that lends great credence to the adage that sangiovese needs the bottle. The wines are unabashedly uncompromising in that they talk the talk of a sense of place that shares affinities only with each other and themselves. Their time in the sun has come, with help no doubt from a changing climate. That glaring condition was on full display the day we met and tasted because a deluge the likes there was never seen rained down and for many hours. When the tasting was complete the skies cleared and the sun shone on what was a symbolic calling to San Casciano’s nascent rebirth. The time for their distinctive sangiovese has surely come.

These are 21 of the wines tasted in September at Fattoria Poggiopiano and with the L’Associazione San Casciano Classico at Poggio Torselli.

Antinori Pèppoli Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 (606541, $19.95)

Chianti Classico from Peppolì, 90 per cent sangiovese with merlot and syrah. An enriching wine and enriched by the international grapes, juicier and more refined, if not also a very concentrated version of these wines. It’s mature and stylish to be sure. Drink 2019-2023.  Tasted September 2019

Famous volumes

Carus Vini Chianti Classico DOCG Baldéro 2016

Presented by the estate’s Sales Manager Pamela Bernini. Estate grapes of 12-13 hectares grown on clay-calcareous soils. Eight are sangiovese, the other three being syrah, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Baldéro is 100 per cent sangiovese with only a small portion raised in tonneaux. Rich, spirited and juicy stuff. Really fresh, effusive and expressive. Drink 2019-2024.  Tasted September 2019

Fattoria Cigliano Di Sopra Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Only the second vintage of organic, 100 per cent sangiovese and an indigenous ferment. There were a mere 1400 bottles produced from a seven hectare plot, planted in 1982 and 2004. New plantings are going in. From Maddalena (age 26) in cohorts with Matteo (age 24). Quite sharp, fresh and also tannic. A start-up with experience on the fly. Drink 2019-2023.  Tasted September 2019

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

A threefold experience of fennel, blood orange and pancetta. There are equal parts five per cent merlot and “other complimentary varieties.” The classic in every respect, dark cherry fruit, dusty, savoury and taut. Fresh, elegant as need be and utterly solid.  Last tasted September 2019

Castello di Gabbiano’s Chianti Classico may repeat itself and act the obvious one, but once again in 2016 it is full and ripe, filled in at every turn, deep, dark and handsome. The ability to deal in pleasure is immense from gathered quality fruit and as always this Annata finds the quickest line for us to appreciate the unwavering sense of equilibrium. Simply put it is Gabbiano and winemaker Federico Cerelli who offer a quality guarantee at the most attractive price. Leaves no reason to doubt. Drink 2018-2021.  Tasted February 2018

Azienda Agricola Mori Concetta Chianti Classico Morino DOCG 2018

Mainly sangiovese with canaiolo, colorino and pugnitello. An excessively savoury and forest brushy Classico with the fruit edging away from cherry and into plum. Peppery spice adds to the complexity of this grippy sangiovese. Juicy and sharp, totally in charge of all the fun and more. Reminds me of a slow ripened ’14 with more flesh and sapidity. Drink 2019-2023.  Tasted September 2019

La Querce Seconda Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Niccolò Bernabei and this project that began in 1995. Organic since 2001 in the most northern spot of San Casciano. Fifty per cent comes from a newer property in the south, for lightness of being and balance. Clay with stones for one of the darker and developed sangiovese in the commune. Toffee and coffee juxtaposed against freshness and really elevated acidity. Also a product of long fermentation with plenty of extraction, tannin and structure. And it needs it desperately. Not green in any means but certainly pressed and expressed. Grows in stature and also widens into greater breadth with air and time.  Last tasted September 2019

Nicely funky volatile, a rich cherry liqueur, full of spice both out of the vineyard and from the barrel. There is this chewiness that is also marked by a mouthful of spice, candied flowers and calcareous chalkiness from big variegated stones in the soil. Crunchy Annata out of San Casciano in Val di Pesa. Drink 2020-2026.  Tasted February 2019

La Sala Chianti Classico DOCG 2015

A combination of two estate vineyards and it shows in the depth of layering, rich, chocolaty and silky smooth. Dark berry fruit, a bit pressed and good high level acidity.  Last tasted September 2019

La Sala’s Annata 2015 is a bambino, a San Casciano in Val di Pesa sangiovese with 10 per cent merlot to speak for sites at 300m, seemingly more instructed by Galestro from out of the Argilla Rossa in 2015. It was raised in grande (45 hL) botti and has now only been in bottle for five months. It’s tart and firm, strong with doppio shots of espresso and very structured for the vintage. Tells a tale about the sort of sangiovese that comes from San Casciano. Drink 2019-2024.  Tasted February 2018

Fattoria Di Luiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2017 ($24.50)

This is San Casciano and the wines are linked by being characterized with soils prevalent in the Greve River Valley, in connection with Antinori’s Peppoli, of river stones and Alberese, into which roots can dive deep in search of water, trace elements and minerals. “A representation of a season for our place in Chianti Classico,” explains Alessandro Palombo. Classic Luiano florality and botanical lift in spite of ‘17s challenge. A tisane for sure, of violet and lavender but also spices. Rounded out by cabernet sauvignon and merlot planted at 330m on less rocky soils. Drink 2019-2022.  Tasted September 2019

Antica Fattoria Machiavelli Solatio Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Located in Sant’Andrea in Percussina, neighbours of Poggio Torselli and the house in exile where Niccola Macchiavelli lived. From 27 hectares of vineyards, stony and porous soils. Really the first reductive Annata in this San Casciano lot, protected, protractive and taut. Called Solatio because it’s a sunny place in an otherwise cooler area of the greater territory. Ripe sangiovese with 20 per cent merlot, tannic and just a touch green. Drink 2019-2023.  Tasted September 2019

San Casciano Hills

Famiglia Nunzi Conti Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Winemaker Gianpaolo Chiettini and what he considers some of the bigger sangiovese of Chianti Classico. Estate carries 40 hectares in the southern San Casciano area of Mercatale where calcari-Alberese soils are there to bring grip and structure. Also some vineyard with clay to mitigate and keep things swimming richly along. Much of the harvest was tossed away and sold for bulk. True selection was performed and with the stringent work through several picks. Thirty per cent saw older barrels in what is clearly a wine of soil and place. Drink 2019-2023.  Tasted September 2019

Orsumella Chianti Classico DOCG 2016 ($23.95)

Presented by Sales Manager Andrea Fabbri from a San Casciano farm located on the road from Bargino (near Antinori) proximate to Monte Ridolfi at 300m. Takes the name from the small river. The Annata is 100 per cent sangiovese eased through a short maceration and conversely similarly in extraction as a result. Native yeasts are used and it spends one years in Grandi Botti, 2500L and very old. A simple execution equals a simple equation. Young, fresh and delicious. Drink 2019-2021.  Tasted September 2019

Poggiopiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

From proprietor Giovanni Battista Bartoli, of sangiovese and colorino and a San Casciano winery with no international varieties. Also no Riserva. High-toned, dark fruit and dusty sangiovese, rich in syrup swirl, certainly a vintage matter, concentrated, with a notable spike of heat. No new barriques used, only second and third passage. Long and consistent. Drink 2019-2022.  Tasted September 2019

Poggiopiano Chianti Classico DOCG La Tradizione 2016

“I am quite Taliban in this idea,” says Giovanni Battista Bartoli, of being 100 per cent anti-international varieties. These San Casciano soils are of clay, sand, river stones and “limo” a silty-clay. Vinification in concrete tanks, for no better reason than micro-oxidation. La Tradizione is pure varietal sangiovese and curious to even remarkable in that the palate accentuates or rather elevates the floral notes, in violets and blues. Tone spikes in whole bunches, really tart acidity and implosive intensity. A touch pressed. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted September 2019

Poggio Torselli Chianti Classico DOCG 2016 ($24.85)

In the northern part of San Casciano at 250m of altitude. Pressed for success, caramel, vanilla and simple savoury syrup. Strawberry with some of it deeper into wild types. Rich and fleshy, smooth, silken and proper acidity. Mainly clay soils with some Alberese. Creamy with help from lees and battonage. A bit of a chocolate finish again with solid acidity. High quality for the style. Drink 2019-2021.  Tasted September 2019

Corsini and Capponi crests

Principe Corsini Le Corti Chianti Classico DOCG 2016 ($26.95)

Duccio Corsini’s vineyards mostly face south, though some point to the east and the west. Vineyards teeming with fluvial sediment and river stones, large, medium and small. Ostensibly an ancient river situation on a hill. Showing beautifully today and at this time; juicy, fleshy and bloody expressive. The sweet tannins need two more years to resolve. Made with five per cent colorino. Drink 2020-2026.  Tasted September 2019

Fattoria San Michele A Torri Chianti Classico DOCG Tenuta La Gabbiola 2017

From Franca in the far north of San Casciano on 470 hectares and 65 planted to vineyard, 15 of which are in Chianti Classico, 12 in production. Mostly sangiovese with five per cent syrah planted closest to the river just because it’s not a site for sangiovese. A true peppery syrup to nose, haughty and heady with no shortage of concentration and grip. Quite stylish and modern. Very enticing and a bit heated at the same time. Drink 2019-2021.  Tasted September 2019

Terre Di Perseto Chianti Classico DOCG Albòre 2016

Presented by Beatrice Landini. Two young brothers take over from grandfather. A notable mephitic sangiovese crusted in its major reduction. Really wound tight, quite juicy and if traditional it’s done with plum pudding and spice. No oak and yet done up in a very closed environment to give a crisp, tight and crispy expression.  Last tasted September 2019

Sweet and candied, high acidity but not in a VA way, though alt-morbido malic and hard candy shelled. Needs some time for the crackling and the cracking to flake away. Drink 2019-2020.  Tasted February 2019

Villa Belvedere Campoli Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Deep, dark and handsome from an old estate in the south of San Casciano on the north end of the ridge up from Radda, through Panzano and into Mercatale. Purchased five years ago and re-planted. Carries the richness meeting mineral notes of Galestro raised sangiovese albeit in the depth of a San Casciano vein. A note of smoky fennel and pollen with ripe acidity. Very much a product of young vines that will lead to more elastic and structured wines in years to come. A wine with shared affinities, to Mercatale in San Casciano and also Panzano. Drink 2019-2022.  Tasted September 2019

Villa Sant’Andrea Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

A large 600 hectare estate with 50 hectares under vine, including merlot and two cabs to go along with sangiovese. The nose indicates jam and verdancy, likely picked ahead of the rains at high sugars early in September. Merlot especially in the first week and the sangiovese 15 days later. Phenolics are close but one more week (to ten days) would have likely taken this fruit to its final destination. Drink 2019-2021.  Tasted September 2019

Villa Mangiacane Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Presented by estate director estate manager Graziano Santoro. Very near the village of San Casciano, from Galestro filled vineyards, well pressed and of a specific density. There’s a curious oyster shell note and dark black cherry fruit, pit and all. Plenty of oak, plenty of ambition, spice and pique. Drink 2019-2022.  Tasted September 2019

Villa Vallacchio Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

In the areas of Campoli and Tignanello, juice only sold to bulk through the 2015 vintage. Beginning in 2016 an Annata and a Riserva began to be produced. Ripe and floral with phenols very close to being fully realized. Still just a touch of verdancy with what can best be described as extreme fruit. A crunchy and tight Annata. Drink 2019-2020.  Tasted September 2019

Good to go!

godello

Poggio Torselli

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

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

Quick Links:

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  grape_brands  @Querciabella  @querciabella

Luiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Quite the extracted and pressed Annata of sangiovese florals and liquor so dark cherry and even a note of Cassis. A bit of cabernet methinks, along with warmth, a big San Casciano bear hug and all you could want from a wine meant to offer up some love. XOXO for sure. Last tasted February 2019  luianowine ale_luiano  tre.amici.imports  @LuiLuiano  @treamiciwines  Luiano®  Alessandro Palombo  Tre Amici Wines

While 2014 showed a winemaker’s ability to survive and ultimately thrive in spite of a great challenge and 2015 proved a different sort of sangiovese mettle, 2016 is more accented and accentuated. The tobacco mid-point on a crunchy mid-palate moves away from gelée and into gravelly pronouncements. Though only in bottle a few days you can’t help but feel the power, grit and structure from this youthful 2016. It’s so very primary and needs to be heard but I’ve asked for a rain-check, looking forward to a re-visit in late ’18 or early ’19. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted February 2018

Casa Al Vento Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

‘Tis a savoury and yet also rich Chianti Classico, pretty much what you’d want and expect from Gaiole in Chianti. At present it’s found somewhat in a shell with inherent structure from what seems like a pretty solid variegate of soil. You can sense Alberese, Galestro and clayey-marl in the layers of fruit and the blocks that stack one upon the other. An unmistakeable sangiovese albeit well-extracted and very modern. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted February 2019

Ruffino Chianti Classico DOCG Santedame 2016

Santedame is quite traditional Chianti Classico, straight ahead with tart red fruit, a tad sour-edged and one of the keepers of the words. Classico, as in what came before and needs to continue, plus Chianti, place in a territory where things are always what they are. Don’t expect much change from this wine. It is loyal to its lineage and proper. It’s also really well made in a very good vintage. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted February 2019

Villa Trasqua

Villa Trasqua Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Trasqua’s Annata comes from a special sway of land, from a valley floor sweeping over gentle hills to create sangiovese of ease and drink ability. You can basically back up the truck for this one without needing to wait or expect later miracles. That said the acidity and tannin are fine, present and accounted for, so all the boxes are checked. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted February 2019     @tenutavillatrasqua  @HULSI_II  Frontier Wine Merchants  villatrasqua

John Matta and John Szabo at Vicchiomaggio, Greve in Chianti

Vicchiomaggio Chianti Classico DOCG San Jacopo 2016

A varietal sangiovese with full fruit freshness intentions though there is some sweet herbal aspects to go along. Quite fresh and youthful with minor tannic structure. Don’t lose these in the cellar. They are ready whenever you are. Last tasted February 2019

A syrup quells and wells on the nose in Vicchiomaggio’s Greve drawn San Jacopo, like an anaesthetic offering temporary numbing before the scents of fennel and baking spices shake you clear. Here the vintage is spoken early and with weight, density and deep impression. Everything fires on quick cylinders; fruit, wood spice, smoulder and verdant savour. It’s all in and immediate. Drink 2018-2021. Tasted February 2018

Cantalici Baruffo Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Quite a barrel affected Annata with a richness of fruit that can handle the toasty wood and carry forward with expressive character, along with quite alimentary tannin. It’s not so much an older schooled Chianti Classico as much as it’s one of swagger, ambition and going hard for the vintage. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted February 2019  cantalici_winery__  @wineCantalici  Cantalici  Carlo Cantalici  Angela Butini  

Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Very getable 2016 sangiovese straight shooter with a glass full of cherries and quick to the point acids. Zero tannin means drink this as young as is humanly possible and let everyone enjoy the wholly ubiquitous, international and easy to appreciate style. Drink 2019-2020. Tasted February 2019  borgoscopetorelais  @BorgoScopeto  @rubenelmer  Borgo Scopeto  Ruben Elmer


Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Villa Le Corti Principe Corsini Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Cortevecchia 2016

A river of stones up on the Corsini hill provide the elemental fodder to generate vine health in a territory where altitude and exposure are everything. At least in the case of Cortevecchia. The richness of savoury edged cherries meets very fine tannin and a princely cohort of conscious movement. The old court is the wine for the decade at this very particular vantage place and place, in Riserva form. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February 2019  principecorsini  artisanal_wine_imports  @PrincipeCorsini  @ArtWineGuru  Principe Corsini  Artisanal Wine Imports

Who does Il Molino di Grace’s Iacopo Morganti remind you of?

Il Molino Di Grace Riserva Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Welcome to the new world Il Molino di Grace order. Here along, after and in addition to the Annata that changes everything is a crunchy and chewy Riserva of pure, laser focus. An extension of Annata with deeper fruit and confidently brighter than most Riserva. The selection is not merely impressive, it’s necessary. The opening farewell is just the beginning of the end. The fruit sits way up on high, on a hill where acidity and tannin live intertwined, transparent and monumental. Sangiovese on its own in Riserva might need help, a little bit of support to elevate and celebrate a little bit of everything. Not this IMG. Solo suffices with ease. It’s already got a little bit of everything. Marks the first of more steps to come for an estate ready to climb into a highest Chianti Classico echelon where it wants, needs and deserves to be. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted February 2019

Bibbiano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Bibbiano’s ’16 wears a robe of wood and wears it well. There are notes expected in lavender, vanilla, graphite and syrupy berries but all swim together in the same and forthright direction. As with the pervasive Bibbiano oeuvre there’s time ahead before learning will push forward to allow this great vintage fruit to poke through as sunlight through the trees. Please, I implore you to wait for that glorious moment. Drink 2022-2027. Tasted February 2019

Dievole Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Novecento 2016

A highly focused, geographically compassed, navigationally composed and just plain oozing sangiovese in Riserva form. Many facets are at play and to thank; Vagliagli, Castelnuovo Berardenga and concrete eggs are just a few though truth be told, in Dievole’s case, are all larger than life. They all contribute for presence, texture and ultimately, dreaminess. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted February 2019  @dievole  profilewinegroup  @Dievole  @ProfileWineGrp  dievole  Profile Wine Group

Barone Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Riserva is but a bambino, locked tight, with great acidity, fruit agglomerated as one from a selection of all the vineyards. It’s the Ricasoli signature sangiovese dish, a true estate combinative Riserva. This is like taking a tour through all of the plots scattered around 270 hectares, to gain an understanding of what goes into making this Gaiole in Chianti body of work. The insight and grasp is yet unfulfilled because in this case it will take some time for all the moving parts to come together. Solid work in Riserva regardless, really really solid. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted February 2019  ricasoli1141  francescoricasoli  churchillcellars  @ricasoli_1141  @imbibersreport  @ricasoli1141  @imbibersreport

Mazzei Ser Lapo Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Big 2016 fruit from the Mazzei family, with a massive amount of concentration to meet a grip no honest man can pay. Clearly a wine of maceration, concentration and fine liquid tannic focus. Long and true in the context of the tradition of Ser Lapo. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted February 2019

Rocca Delle Macìe Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Famiglia Zingarelli 2016

Classic firm and over delivering entry for a Zingarelli Riserva built to last. Succulent of red fruit rolling round beneath a hard savoury candy fruit shell. Such a rich edition with lights flared and motor running. I’d wait a couple of years for the richness of 2016 fruit, the warmth and the bones to get together. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February 2019  @roccadellemacie  @roccadellemacie  @ProfileWineGrp  Profile Wine Group  roccadellemacie

@castellovicchiomaggio

Vicchiomaggio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Agostino Petri 2015

Riserva Petri is the largest of the Vicchiomaggio cru, in production of 500 hL so 60,000 bottles. Aged in used barriques and large barrels. A deeper and darker sangiovese so silky and smooth. There is now a balsamic and truffle aspect to the aromas, with some chocolate on the palate. Last tasted February 2019

Agostino Peri is an expressly and explicitly written Riserva from Vicchiomaggio, dusty, high in acidity and ultimately, ostensibly wholly, traditional. Sits on a perch above Greve in Chianti lands to tell the world. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted February 2018


Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016

Conti Capponi/Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Vigna Contessa Luisa 2016

Now for something completely different. The Contessa’s vineyard is a lifelong dream and confounding sangiovese from which to grab attention. She’s immediately elegant and charming and then so closed. She is predicated on darkening red cherry fruit but her acidity is formidable and so the connection is severe to establish. She lingers with you for so long that you don’t know what to do because she was never really accessible to begin with. Teasing Gran Selezione, an incubus for now, but eventually you will realized the dream. FYI, the oldest estate 1959 planted Contessa Luisa vineyard was dedicated to matriarch Luisa Vonwiller. Drink 2023-2033. Tasted February 2019  @villacalcinaia  @Nicholaspearce_  villacalcinaia  nicholaspearcewines  @calcinaia  Nicholas Pearce

Castello Di Ama Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Vigneto Bellavista 2016

It’s worth noting that Bellavista is the Gran Selezione passed over in 2014 because it is only deemed worthy of being made in the most concentrated of vintages. Bellavista may be a brother to San Lorenzo but they really couldn’t be any different. Deeper, richer, more tannic and structured, with a chalkiness that speaks to white limestone. But it’s a not a lightning, bright red fruit sangiovese, no rather it’s strong, deep, grippy, brooding and built for the longest of of hauls. This fulfills the wishes of a very specific type of Chianti Classico, of an emperor’s structure in sangiovese clothes. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted February 2019

Conte Capponi/Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Vigna Bastignano 2016

Capponi’s Bastignano is a Gran Selezione consistent and repetitively persistent to speak its singular truth. It is truly hematic, a sumptuous, oozing full-fruit sangiovese with above the left bank of the river Greve coursing through its blood. Very smooth, seamless, finely tannic and beautifully high in ripe acida. If all GS carried such acid then the category would float even higher. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted February 2019

Castello Di Ama Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG San Lorenzo 2016

San Lorenzo will gift all that Ama has to offer with respect to sangiovese for the 2016 vintage. The fruit is quite dark cherry, perhaps exceeding acquainted expectation though truth be told expectation is easy to handle when vineyards, fruit and seminal acidity do what they do. Far from a tumult of tannin sacrifices nothing to pleasure. A great San Lorenzo many will simply want to drink. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2019

Conti Capponi/Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG La Fornace 2016

Vigna Fornace, “The Furnace” is indeed the warmest of the Capponi Gran Selezione, full of gathered 2016 sunshine, ready to melt in the mouth acidity, tannins and in this case, chocolate. The acidity is very different to Bastigano, here cured, developed and dare it be said in such a young wine, assimilated. Drink this younger while ye wait for the bigger structure and high tonal Bastigano. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted February 2019

Rocca Delle Macìe Gran Selezione Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva Di Fizzano Single Vineyard 2016

In 2016 the cards all align for this ubiquitous and all pervasive get to market Gran Selezione, with a sweet fruit core and satiny viscosity to tell the tale of an estate and a category. This is so very stylish, cultured and rendered sangiovese with round edging, good quality acidity and a voice to last a generation. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted February 2019


Chianti Classico DOCG 2015

Tenuta Perano Chianti Classico DOCG 2015

The second harvest (though the first to enter the market) for Frescobaldi’s Tenuta Perano in Gaiole is a fortuitous one and you have to see these steep vineyards for yourself to believe what possibilities there can be. The unusual situation of a simultaneous release alongside the same vintage Riserva is necessary and understood because the ’14 fruit was de-classified and sold off. Chianti Classico Annata is proper when this much freshness abounds, with high acidity and Gaiole savour. So very and bloody Gaiole and I say this with blood orange in mind. There is also a forested nod and a wink in affinity over the hills to Radda but this remains secure in its Gaiole clothing. The angles, slopes and aspects of Perano’s steepness are echoed in the way this sangiovese ambles across the palate, expanding and contracting as sangiovese likes to and will often do. Temperature fluctuations will also impart this sense of breaths taken in and out. Great intrigue here and with no surprise why Frescobaldi coveted this impressive property. Drink 2018-2022. Tasted September 2018 and February 2019

Losi Querciavalle Chianti Classico DOCG 2015

Let’s talk about sangiovese needing time. Even this generous and rapturous 2015 from the Losi family is not ready to tell its Castelnuovo Berardenga, on the road to Pontignano truth. Not yet. Annata yes I know but structured like the chapels that take a decade or more to restore after many centuries of formidable architecture refusing to yield. Like this Alberese fed sangiovese. Always a firm one of honest and fair play. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted February 2019

Le Cinciole Chianti Classico DOCG 2015

Quite the tangy and chewy number this ’15, let bleed from Panzano Galestro, at once torn and frayed and then fully engaged in its business. This has got you by the cherries that much it’s true and while it’s a bit out of its musical element there’s a charm about it’s country twang. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted February 2019

Stefano Farina Le Bocce Chianti Classico DOCG 2015

Fleshy, somewhat morbido, dark red to black fruit sangiovese with some complications, notably acidity that stands apart. Fruit so savoury and tangy tart leaning into a raisin direction. There’s an intensity, a high tonality and also a depth of dried fruit. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted February 2019


Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015

Le Fonti Di Panzano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015

Two years in the barrel (400 and 500L, one is Hungarian Kader), again approximately 90 per cent sangiovese and the new wood in ’15 was in the 20 per cent range. Here comes that Le Fonti aromatic profile again, as distinct as any sangiovese you will ever nose. Would like to think they could be picked out of a line-up anywhere. Savoury, salty, cured, elegant and pure pleasure available. The quietest 15 per cent alcohol anywhere and from the coolest part of Panzano, to the east. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted February 2019

Rocca Di Castagnoli Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Poggio A Frati 2015

Poggio A Frati 2015 is primarily sangiovese though usually contains a few percentage points of canaiolo, for tradition. The vines grow on 12 hectares of schisty Alberese soil at Poggio Frati, “the hills of the friars.” The generous season is blessed of beautifully defined tannins, fine and sweet, with that vintage’s glycerin fruit and really intense acidity. This is such a baby but with tannins so accomplished there will be a really fine future, sooner and later. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted February 2019  roccadicastagnoli  profilewinegroup  @Roccacastagnoli  @ProfileWineGrp  Rocca di Castagnoli  Profile Wine Group

Castello Di Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015

Classically styled 2015, honest, pure and welling with extracted sangiovese depth. Acidity, grip and then tension all consistently woven from and beyond Annata, but it too is silky smooth,with a liquid liquorice ooze. Smooth bitter balsamic finish. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted September 2018 and February 2019   castellodiquerceto  profilewinegroup  @CastQuerceto  @ProfileWineGrp  Castello di Querceto  Profile Wine Group

Tenuta Perano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015

In Riserva the essence of this Gaiole location is continued to be captured, along with a strong Frescobaldi identity instituted for an early defined Perano style. It’s a severe set of vineyard landscapes here and appropriating the place is necessary to making quality sangiovese. The sanguinity and orange citrus aspects speak of the white limestone and chalkiness in the soils, here accompanied by a Riserva glaze, slightly caramelized and charred al forno. The fruit multiplied by earth richness is properly rendered and texturally you can imagine this to feel like elastic pizza dough. Acidity is everything, the key to success and the director of the project. As it should be with sangiovese, Chianti Classico and this place. The focus begins right away with vintage number one and so the future of Gaiole is ensured inclusive with the talents of Frescobaldi. Truly. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted September 2018 and February 2019  frescobaldivini  philippedandurandwines  @FrescobaldiVini  @Dandurandwines  @FrescobaldiVini  @VinsPhilippeDandurand


Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015:

Volpaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Il Puro 2015

Il Puro takes her purity to another level in 2015 with fruit so silky fine and chalky tannins integrated into liquid even finer than that fine. The accumulation is just impressive and the charm meeting grace even more so than that. The Mascheroni-Stianti family has really found a stride in this GS to explain why it exists and how it can make many people happy. The structure here will take this through two or three decades of unfolding. There is a house record to prove it, ironically regardless and in spite of the bottle’s name. This is sangiovese. Drink 2023-2037. Tasted February 2019

Susanna Grassi of I Fabbri

I Fabbri Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015

A choice selection of sangiovese only from the oldest vineyards (1969 and 1984, planted by Susanna Grassi’s father Guiliano). The fine, fine lines, streaks and sets are all a matter of taking the best of the best. The two wines made before this were 2011 Gran Selezione and 2007 (special) Riserva. Texture is drawn from altitude, climate and states of grace. Susanna believes that a special bottle should be made in only the most special vintages. A pretty good argument for commerce in terms of the category, if not everyone were to make it every year. A serious argument. No make-up, no overblowing of extraction, wood or horns. Know this wine. It’s from Lamole. Drink 2021-2034. Tasted February 2019

Colle Bereto Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015

Here is a rich, rendered and Radda rocking Gran Selezione with dark fruit, high acidity and really sweet tannins. So very stylish with a keen sense of itself and who it aims to please. Colle Bereto’s bring the cleanest fruit and Bernardo Bianchi’s are very confident Chianti Classico, sempre e per sempre. Drink 2022-2031. Tasted February 2019

Il Molino Di Grace Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Il Margone 2015

Molino di Grace’s Margone 2015 perpetuates the previous and original epoch for the estate, healthy, ambitious, full-bodied and of a wealth by fruit multiplied through wood. While it has always been a celebration of its land, it has also always been a wine made big, bold, spicy and tannic through the ushering along of real men’s barrels. That said Margone ’15 is the most calm and layered one to date, full of textures, tapestry and chewy rapport. It marks a turning point, not a complete one, but surely the one where both feet are securely and confidently striding forward into the new dimension of re-invention. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted February 2019

Rocca Delle Macìe Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Sergio Zingarelli 2015

The 2015 Zingarelli Gran Selezione is a taut, youthful, fresh and also very tannic sangiovese. The toasty wood notes and chocolate are much in play with the fruit still tied up in youth. It’s one that takes all that ’15 wants to give, big, dense and and weighty. Will take five plus years to unfold and reveal, then five more to establish its territory. Castellina in Chianti. Drink 2023-2031. Tasted February 2019

Marchesi Antinori Badia A Passignano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015

Instantly recognizable archetype of the continuum in Chianti Classico excellence and one of the original seven Gran Selezione. Badia a Passignano comes to life in 2015 with the generosity of fruit that not all in the top of the pyramid category will exhibit as best in show. The classically styled tenets of structure, acidities and tannins are qualified fine as fine can be. Purposefully produced to be this way, to dot every I, T and traditional Italian restaurant wine list. Very fine. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted November 2018 and February 2019  marchesiantinori  halpernwine  markanthonyqc  @AntinoriFamily  @HalpernWin e  @MarchesiAntinori  @halpernwine

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2013

Villa Di Geggiano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2013

Geggiano’s ’13 is certainly a sangiovese explicit of expression within a sub-category that falls inside the category of multiplicity that is Riserva. That it took five years to come to a place of accessibility is no shocker and shares yet another detail of this nook in the western edges of Castelnuovo Berardenga. The perfume is beginning to emerge with truly succulent red liqueur. Very prominent (and promising) which is funny to say for a wine now heading into middle age, but not for Geggiano where sangiovese needs as much time as any. Tannins are fine but still in charge. Clarity and purity are surely defined. Wait another year for the next level of perfume and presence, though to be fair the structure is just a shade below the ’12. Drink 2020-2028. Tasted February 2019

San Francesco in the vineyards of Il Molino di Grace

Not currently in Ontario market Chianti Classico

These are the wines from producers without importation agency representation in Ontario but also wines represented in Ontario that are not currently available. They may either be brought in periodically through Private Order or have not yet been imported at all.


Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Riecine Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Riecine’s is the true limestone sangiovese, of pure and striking, fast as lightning red fruit. This is without any equivocal wavering a Chianti Classico for purists, for those who look to tradition and who seek the truth, with the most clarity and modernist’s approach. The acids are perfectly succulent, defined and refined. An Annata that will live in infamy, fifteen to twenty years or more I should think. Drink 2021-2035. Tasted February 2019

Podere La Cappella Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

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  natnito  #poderelacappella  Natascia Rossini

Podere Poggio Scalette Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Quite forward and viscous for a Jurji Fiore Annata at so young a moment which tells us that in the heat of 2017 the highest altitudes were able to not only get to maximum phenolics but also do it with an accumulation of next level texture. For those who love Scalette’s lighting sangiovese and for those who like it real and those also those who want crushable this hits every collective note. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted February 2019  PoderePoggioScalette  profilewinegroup     @ProfileWineGrp  Podere Poggio Scalette  Profile Wine Group

Castello Di Monsanto Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

Once again here is the Castello di Monsanto perfume, distinct, proper, self-effacing correct and then into a purity of taste and texture to carry the name. Sangiovese and the meaning of what is now known collectively as Barberino Tavarnelle. A bit crunchy this early, indeed it is very young and will officially go to bottle in two weeks, though the wine is clearly a finished one. Another gem from Laura Bianchi. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2019   castellomonsanto  @castelmonsanto  @castello.dimonsanto

Fattoria Montecchio Chianti Classico DOCG ‘Primum Line’ 2017

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

Fattoria Di Montecchio Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

The original, historical label, having been 140,000 bottles production. A year in grandi botti plus four months in bottle before release. Classic, savoury, San Donato bigger, silky and smooth style. Not hard to understand and easy to drink. Find some of this ’17, drink it while waiting for the more structured 16s and stay loyal to a fine, honest and hard working house. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted February 2019

Alessandra Casini Bindi Sergardi and Giulia Bernini


Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Podere Cianfanelli Chianti Classico DOCG Cianfanello 2016

From David Cianfanelli in the most northeasterly corner of the territory in Greve. Tight and also reductive, or hand in hand in a way and über promising. Reminds me of the sangiovese styling by Luca Martini di Cigala at San Giusto e Rentennano, serious, in control and perfectly reasonable for what the vineyard wants to give. Lithe airiness in here, with clay and Galestro in the vineyard. From a warm location butted up against a cooling hill. Goes both ways, AC/DC, with savour and rich fruit but so in balance. Acids are prepared, round and supportive while tannins take charge in the long winded end. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted February 2019

Istine Chianti Classico DOCG Vigna Istine 2016

Eponymous winery vineyard facing northwest, surrounded by forest at 550m, rocky, steep, full of both Galestro and Alberese, bottled in May 2018 and will be sent to market in January 2019. The dusty, savoury and structured one, from the steep slope and if there is a vineyard that delivers more black olive tapenade and wild earthy complexity, please let me know. This needs time, loads of precious time to get into a charming place. It’s a matter of layers waiting to peel back, air and breath. It’s also a thing of powerful beauty, linear, direct and vines that breathe in the forest and bathe in the morning sun. Harvested third week of October, a month before 2017 and two weeks before what will be in 2018. Submits a new voice into the modern lexicon of Chianti Classico. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted September 2018 and February 2019  istine_raddainchianti  angela_fronti    @istineraddainchianti

Fattoria Pomona Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Essentially 100 per cent sangiovese, from the better and higher part of the vineyards planted in 2004 and 1998. From hot days, cold nights and eight months in barrel. Beautiful. Fruit, fruit and more fruit. Calcareous marl and Alberese stone interchangeable for the make up the vineyard and the house, with pietraforte, quartz, everything all in, together in conglomerate. In the end, combined with organic farming and low pH, there is a salty vein running through the deeply rendered red fruit. Sapidity unique to this vineyard. Perfect with caponata, carpione and pecorino. This Annata needs to be drawn from every part of the estate because it’s terroir is one of the most variegated in all of the territory. Drink 2018-2022. Tasted September 2018 and February 2019  fattoria_pomona    @fattoriapomona

A result of our manic research on the quintessential search for #sangiovese in Radda and @valdellecorti. Roberto Bianchi’s sangiovese, now with even more consciousness.

Val Delle Corti Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

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 son merso.” 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  valdellecorti  @ValdelleCorti  @valdellecorti

L’erta Di Radda Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

A tightly wound, sharp as a tack, robust, fascinating, lightning quick sangiovese with Galestro and altitude in its blood. Really forceful through the brightest red fruit in the book. Intensely red liqueur wowing with no loss of pulse, tempo or fast paced drum kit animale. Radda Sangiovese strike straight to the heart. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2019

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 2019 fattoriapoggerino  vins.balthazard   @vinsbalthazard  @poggerino  @VinsBalthazard

Poggiopiano Chianti Classico DOCG La Tradizione 2016

One of the new standard bearers and setters for San Casciano sangiovese. A massively structured Annata that will need rest and will eventually emerge in time. While more traditional than the sister ’16, this comes as no surprise considering the name. Tart and intense, Alberese demanding and purposed, asking for and being granted the request for a return engagement at a much later date. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted February 2019

Fattoria Montecchio Chianti Classico DOCG ‘Primum Line’ 2016

Quite reductive and wound with a tightness that moves the adage one step up the rung, the one that says sangiovese needs time. For ’16 it’s a matter more pressing and a story yet to be told. It’s tart but so very layered and there’s a feeling of Galestro here, with a darker chalky texture and mouthfeel. Perhaps not the same weight as 2015 but more power and structure by a mile. It’s about preference of style and vintage variation. You may have to drink 15s while this waits two or three years before seeing the glory unfold. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February 2019  fattoriamontecchio  @FattMontecchio  Fattoria Montecchio

Fattoria Dell’aiola Chianti Classico DOCG Aiola 2016

High glycerin, chewy, textured, tangy and ropey red fruit Annata with great purity though certainly up there in ripeness, alcohol and ambition. Reminds of the dark and intense sangiovese from Galestro marl west of the Arbia River though it’s not as deeply rendered and the tonality is a bit higher. Surely seems like Castelnuovo (and turns out it is) but in the northeast, off of slopes abutted up against Radda. If you’ve not heard of Aiola you and I need to know this estate and their vineyards, which certainly present sangiovese right up there with some of Chianti Classico’s finest. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2019

Ormanni Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

The combination of Poggibonsi and Barberino val d’Elsa is Ormanni’s trump card, a straddling of commune borders that creates the ideal estate Annata in perfect alignment. It’s really layered and sumptuous, old school at heart but clear, pure and honest, always looking straight ahead. There’s no rusticity but there is this red fruit beauty that reminds of days of yore. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February 2019  #fattoriaormanni  rogersandcompanywines    @rogcowines  @fattoriaormanni  @rogcowines

Monte Bernardi Chianti Classico DOCG Retromarcia 2016

Retromarcia represents 75 per cent of the production from vines under 50 years old, averaging 13 years of age, from all four points on the estate. “The workhorse,” says Michael Schmelzer, giving perfume, tannin and a great chew. La matematica è bella; 75 per cent of 75,000 bottles on 75 hectares, of Galestro (70 per cent), purple-brown shale/pietraforte-sandstone (20) and Alberese (10). Made by adding stems back, but not before in the carbonic maceration way. “because that’s winemaking. I feel that I’m adding tannins and de-acidifying naturally, increased in cold years and decreased in the hot ones.” It’s a matter of potassium bonding with tartaric acid dropping out. Longer macerations occur in high acid (i.e. cooler) years and vice versa. Last tasted February 2019  michaelschmelzer  #montebernardi  @montebernardi  @Michael_MonteB  @montebernardi  Michael Schmelzer 

Retromarcia is like the Swahili “pole, pole,” a reminder to us all to slow down, gear down, chill out, take it easy. This Annata has been a 100 per cent, Panzano in Chianti estate grown sangiovese since 2010. The fruit is some of the sweetest and purest sangiovese out there, with a scent of anise, a whiff of tobacco. It’s unequivocally “molto frutto,” with glycerin texture, especially for the frazione and also nosing spiced floral notes. Fresh, light in the tannic department, light in weight and also in alcohol (13.5). Just a joy to drink. As a match to an Italian racer it’s a sprinter, Gino Bartali, Cavaliere di Gran Croce, Gino the Pious, 1950 winner in San Remo. Drink 2018-2021. Tasted September 2018

Vicchiomaggio Chianti Classico DOCG Guado Alto 2016

Guado Alto is the first, La Prima of four Vicchiomaggio cru, so small in fact that it delivers only 50 hL (6,000 bottles). In Annata it is so bloody fresh and perfectly tangy, modernist with really fine acidity. Matured only in large barrels it’s a stylish, chicca of a sangiovese with the kind of length needed to sooth and keep you coming back for more. Clarity and focus in Annata incarnate. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted February 2019  castellovicchiomaggio  @vicchiomaggio  @SignatureWS1  Castello Vicchiomaggio

Montefioralle Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Harvested at the end of September from the warmest and most gracious gifting vintage. Stock in colour may be unnecessary but oh so beautiful this one, deeply hued, rendered of a purple that’s really just perfect. Grace in acidity meets depth of fruit and such polish. There is nothing rustic about this and yet the perfumed meets spice profile is exacting and pure for this Montefioralle terroir, which incidentally is three hectares of planted vineyards. Silk in sangiovese, honest and pure. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted September 2018 and February 2019  montefioralle  @MontefioralleWi  @montefioralle  Lorenzo Sieni

Vallone Di Cecione Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Old school, volatile, earthy, funky and very, very real. From Panzano, organic, natural and all you want in sangiovese of this particular ilk. Dreamy. Long and immediately gratifying due to being battle ready. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted February 2019

Stomennano Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

The Grassi family borgo is in close proximity to the medieval town of Monteriggioni just outside of the Chianti Classico zone. Their vineyards are Castellina in Chianti, of sangiovese and colorino grown on loose and not very deep soils where beneath there is grey clay and tufaceous rock. Their’s is lovely rich and delicate sangiovese of ripeness and verdancy intermingling. Great presence, length, high acidity and texture fills the mouth. Cool, minty, savoury. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted February 2019

Renzo Marinai Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

One step closer to a deep, deep understanding is where Marinai has arrived with this welling, oozing and fully rendered Greve sangiovese. There’s some true depth and fullness to this fruit and this constitution, not to mention architecture. Certainly filled with warmth and spice for the lovers here. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted February 2019

Poggiopiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Nothing hidden here about the level of texture, aromatic layering and tannic amenability, wholly consistent if much improved impression from San Casciano in Val di Pesa. It’s a big, nearly boozy and welling to oozing sangiovese of deep cherry and next level modernity. Will please many camps, especially Italian wine lists that must have this avant garde producer on board. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted February 2019  poggiopiano.galardi  @PoggiopianoFI  @FattoriadiPoggiopiano

Bindi Sergardi Chianti Classico DOCG La Ghirlanda 2016

Full sweet natural fruit, a reductive shell and real savoury Mocenni character add up to an Annata from the generous vintage without a tenebrous bone in its body. Chewy mouthful, collected acids and finely grained tannins. A step up again for the Castelnuovo house. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted February 2019

I Fabbri Chianti Classico DOCG Terra di Lamole 2016

Take the Lamole terroir and taste it again and again. Though it may be confounding the first 10 or 12 tries it continues to educate and with time you are unable to avoid the understanding and the temptation. There is a layer beneath the Greve level, of altitude and aspect but also a variability that deems sangiovese impermeable within a context of repeatable. Hard to explain, really. Sweet as original fruit, a genesis of Chianti Classico and a fineness that slides and grooves effortless and with succulence. Drink 2021-2027. Last tasted February 2019

Lamole in Greve is the source for this high toned, stone-tined and savoury aromatic young Annata, traditional, mildly volatile in its wise rusticity and surprisingly tannic. This is the sort of pressed sangiovese you’d find over the decades, from information and technique passed down and upheld by the current generation. Continues the thread with more microbes and real live tart notes to taste. Builds and builds upon its old-school foundation. Drink 2018-2021. Tasted February 2018

San Fabiano Calcinaia Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Rich and earthy, full dark liqueur, lots of barrel and needing time. This is brawny but needs time. It will settle, eventually and offer great pleasure. The biggest Annata from Poggibonsi, deep in clay and consistently structured this way. Drink 2022-2026. Tasted February 2019  sanfabianocalcinaiasrl  @SanFabiano  Società Agricola “San Fabiano Calcinaia”  Soleil Fine Wines

La Querce Seconda Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Nicely funky volatile, a rich cherry liqueur, full of spice both out of the vineyard and from the barrel. There is this chewiness that is also marked by a mouthful of spice, candied flowers and calcareous chalkiness from big variegated stones in the soil. Crunchy Annata out of San Casciano in Val di Pesa. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted February 2019  laquerceseconda  #laquerceseconda  La Querce Seconda

Borgo La Stella Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Cool climate Chianti Classico on full display here with a vintage advantage though you can’t take the hill or the place out of the sangiovese. Seriously savoury, gariga style and a cherry liqueur that’s as much liquor and very much singular of its La Stella own. Quite fine. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted February 2019  borgolastella  #BorgoLaStella  Borgo la Stella

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 2019

Vecchie Terre Di Montefili Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Talk about exotics. The aromatics are all perfume and spice; cinnamon, clove, liquorice, star anise and Szechuan pepper. It’s a veritable Pho broth in Greve in Chianti, sangiovese clothing. The barrel is an obvious influence but the fruit remains lightning quick and culpable for place. I find it a bit thin and lean for 2016 so it’s a bit of a disparate accumulation. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted February 2019

Castellinuzza E Piuca Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

From Greve in Chianti, the sangiovese di Lamole here is strong, youthful, firm and pure. Bright red fruit so typical of the frazione indicates limestone for cherries. Also a salumi of Mortadella and yes, that sort of connection is imaginable and possible. Very fresh with big acidity from the cool night air at 550m above sea level. The inclusion of 10 per cent canaiolo only accentuates the sapidity and the terraced sense of place. If it were a rider it would be Felice Gimondi, precocious and gregarious, a rookie who was a 1965 Tour de France winner in his first try. Drink 2018-2022. Tasted September 2018 and February 2019  castellinuzza.chianti.classico    @poderecastellinuzza

Terre Di Perseto Chianti Classico DOCG Albòre 2016

Sweet and candied, high acidity but not in a VA way, though alt-morbido malic and hard candy shelled. Needs some time for the crackling and the cracking to flake away. Drink 2019-2020. Tasted February 2019

Montecalvi Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

A highly recognizable style of Annata, tangy, soil chalky and textured of sour cherries, ripe and a bit feral. Well on its way to celebrate a Greve in Chianti terroir with this sandy clay (and some Galestro) soil. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted February 2019

La Sala Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Quite the traditional sangiovese offering up a seriously parochial San Casciano sense of place. Grounded in pace from that place in peace out to the Galestro and Argilla Rosa. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted February 2019

Le Masse Di Lamole Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

From Annamaria, great-granddaughter to founder Emilio Soccio, who with her husband Giuliano tend to some of Lamole’s highest vineyards at upwards of 650m. Their’s is a highly traditional, high acidity and sapid sangiovese at the rooftop of the territory, “il tetto del Chianti.” From the generous vintage and showing well early. Some canaiolo and colorino field blended in only accentuate the loyalty and the adherence to place. Authenticity incarnate right here. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted February 2019

Fattoria Rodáno Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Dirty, peppery reductive and dark fruit, black earth, sharp, woody, old school and spicy. Storm clouds looming, threats on the horizon. Take shelter. Return in two years when the dust has settled. From Castellina in Chianti. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted February 2019

San Giorgio A Lapi Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

San Giorgio a Lapi is an unusually floral and aromatic sangiovese, much more so than many. It veers and teeters to the edge of geranium but manages the balance to hang on the right side of 2016. It’s a bit brittle on the palate but there is no oxidative or raisining tendency. Perhaps just a bit out of sorts at this time. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted February 2019


Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Poggerino Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Bugialla 2016

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

Fattoria Pomona Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Bandini 2016

Purity of handsome fruit lingers left, right and centre within a commission of structural components designed by nature on the road past Villa Pomona up through Castellina in Chianti. The vintage is a rich and elastic one for Monica Raspi and one she must have just delighted in simply being a part of. Elegance as the opposite of vice. Reaches all the essential peaks, plateaus and precipices where supple fruit settles and rests. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted February 2019

Tenuta Cinciano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

Cinciano ’16 Riserva bleeds straight from the Annata in style though because of the berry concentration and extra aging it misses out on the transparency and the basic purity, at least at this so very early stage. Tannins are grippy while fluid and the vineyard waits in anything but vein. Drink 2022-2027. Tasted February 2019  fattoriacinciano  @fattoriadicinciano

Cigliano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

A sleeper this vineyard, on a peninsula out into a great wide void of San Casciano set beneath fairy tales and vistas to set you straight. This is Riserva made to do the same, to ground you in a garden, on a perch, with nothing but tranquil surroundings. Succulent acids support ripe fruit egged on by the variegate of the soil. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted February 2019  Villa del Cigliano  dbwineandspirits    @VilladelCigliano  @dbwineandspirits

La Sala Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016

What an absolutely lovely Riserva from La Sala in San Casciano, with purity, transparency and clarity. The acidity is perfectly uplifting and the fruit a loyal follower. The tannins are sweet, supple, supportive and once again the fruit tows the tannic line. Structured for a slow, soft and delicate incline, followed by a graceful decline. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2019  cantinalasala  @LaSalaVini  @toohotrightnow  La Sala  Stefano Pirondi

Riecine Chianti Classic Riserva DOCG 2016

Older schooled, tart, tangy, intense, welling and oozing Riserva. Very, truly, obviously Riserva. Like ’13 in a way but the vintage is almost a polar opposite so it’s clearly an estate style in as much as there ever could be. Built to age for a long time. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted February 2019

Vicchiomaggio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Vegan 2016

This is note merely John Matta being whimsical or polite but a wine born of an idea to bring something to market that many people demand, want and need. A vegan wine from a specific vineyard area where no animal products are used. The whole process is certified, including the cork. There is a peppery reductive meets soil movement, here with a “natural wine” feel though it’s all red to black fruit with a stop at purple flowers. Very smooth, lightly tannic, not a rare beef pairing Riserva. Not just vegan friendly. Truly vegan. Good on you John Matta. Drink 2019-2020. Tasted February 2019


Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016

Vicchiomaggio

Vicchiomaggio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Le Bolle 2016

Named for the small group of houses to which the vineyard abuts, a vineyard where the large gathering of stones resembles Les Galets of Châteauneuf-de-Pâpe. The total prodcution is 50 hL (6,000 bottles). Just going into bottle as we speak, there is a structural architecture to this Gran Selezione that stands apart. La Prima is the wine for everyman while Le Bolle will appeal to ye who wants edgy, artistic and deferential. The blood orange, cranberry, pomegranate and sapid-herbal attributes are all part of the extenuating mix. Terrifc single-block within a single-vineyard expression of solo sangiovese Gran Selezione. Drink 2022-2031. Tasted February 2019


Chianti Classico DOCG 2015

I Fabbri Chianti Classico DOCG Terra Di Lamole 2015

A blend of sangiovese and canaiolo, circa 10 per cent, including the vines planted in 1964 (by Susanna’s father Guiliano), plus 1989 and 2002. This is a whole ‘nother matter of fruit sumptuousness and exquisite tannin. There’s a fine bitters note and fruit that enters into an area where it’s almost a middle-aged, mature version of the Lamole sangiovese. The tannic structure is so very different than the “Lamole” surely because of the altitude 200m lower down the slope. There’s a bass note here apposite to the higher Lamole horns, but also something umami and salty. Wow did this need a year to open up. Last tasted February 2019

Into the Lamole lair we delve from I Fabbri with 90 per cent sangiovese (grosso) plus canaiolo nero of great potential and it should also be said, probability, if not right now then soon, very soon. This terroir is different and if we are not quite sure exactly how or why then perhaps the producers are not quite sure either. The fruit is 98 per cent ripe but I can’t help but wonder how greatness could have been were the number perfect. That may be asking too much but something is amiss, even while the dusty excesses and fine acidity support of wild red fruit is there to see, sense, feel and enjoy. That is the end game after all. Drink 2018-2022. Tasted February 2018

I Fabbri Chianti Classico DOCG Olinto 2015

From sangiovese (80 per cent) plus merlot, named after great-grandfather Olinto Grassi, nonno, patriarch and pioneer in Lamole. From vineyards at 500m and aged part in concrete plus part in barrels. A very different wine because of the merlot, more of a big hug, with sweeter and less tart acids, not the same caress in the mouth, but surely silky and easy. Get into the glass and note the orange, blood or just simply orange. Fresh and spirited regardless of merlot or not. Pair with Pino Daniele, the Italian Van Morrison. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted February 2019

Poggio Borgoni Chianti Classico DOCG Curva Del Vescovo 2015

From San Casciano, “Curve Of The Bishop” is a rich and nearly voluptuous sangiovese with more than enough fruit to withstand the triad of wood, acidity and tannin in great, systemic but manageable concentration. Yes, a truly concentrated CC to be clear and surely so, with extensions in many directions but mostly length. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2019

Fattoria Montecchio Chianti Classico DOCG ‘Primum Line’ 2015

A sangiovese with five per cent Alicante Bouschet and the first of its kind in terms of Annata. Diverts 10 per cent fruit by way of selection from the original and traditional Chianti Classico and it’s quite a beautiful wine in 2015 though not as structured as 2016. It’s like a compromise between that ’16 and the coming ’17. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted February 2019

Villa Montepaldi Chianti Classico DOCG Tagliafune 2015

Very syrupy, sweet raspberry fruit, bled from San Casciano clay and some grey stone. A tannic wine too, older schooled though there is a clarity in that world it lives. Correct, proper and successful. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted February 2019

La Casa Di Bricciano Chianti Classico DOCG 2015

Pretty floral syrup that’s neither too viscous nor tart, not exactly right but certainly finding some balance. A bit resolved with melted barrel notes in vanilla and lavender. Smooth, silky, satiny, easy drinking sangiovese. There was more verve from the adversarial ’14. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted February 2019


Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015

I Fabbri Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG I Fabbri 2015

From the first passage through the vineyard, when all the fruit is ripe and ready to go. Now Riserva gets serious, or not really at all, but the table is set anew with an entirely new look at the category. Chew on this fresh and leathery wine for awhile. Take your time, feel the heights and the aspects. The acidity is incredibly fine and the effect like a blood red sunset to the west of the Lamole valley. There may be five per cent canaiolo in here, hard to say because of the way and the timing of the picking. Sapidity and salinity are perfect streaks through the sunken, drunken, oxygenated red fruit. Length all the way up to Terrata and La Sala at 100m and back. Drink 2020-2029.  Tasted February 2019

Monte Bernardi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Sa’Etta 2015

From the sandstone (Pietraforte) soils, this is sangiovese (100 per cent) with canaiolo and malvasia nowhere to be found. The vines are also 50 years old and sure as the sun sets over the towers of San Gimignano the force of soil stone nature here is rigid, forceful and grippy. Still ripe in every which way; fruit, acids and those added back in stems that lift, strike and place. Two years in botti grandi and then another year in bottle. The perfume is blue and purple flower, i.e. violets and lavender but it almost matters very little because of the perfectly polished tannins. Straight as an arrow, chewy and sapid as the vein of that rock runs long. It’s all about instinct, long macerations and adding back those stems, because that’s the way Michael rolls. I get it because that’s the way I cook. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February 2019

Monte Bernardi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015

It was 16 years ago that Michael Schmelzer came to Panzano with the idea to make pure and elegant wines that represent the territory. Monte Bernardi’s vineyards are in the “belly-button” at the heart of Chianti Classico, with vineyards spread out beneath the winery from 300-410m. Tannins from the Torchiatta are what Schmelzer calls “the best that you can get.” What you get from the pressings and then the ripe stems brings sapidity and longevity. The Riserva is a vineyard selection from only Galestro soils, across the road, 95 per cent sangiovese, with canaiolo and malvasia. Stems are added back in and the wine is aged in botti grandi plus tonneaux, if there is more than the botti can hold. The idea here is the soft constitution from rocks that absorb more solar radiation and yet the acidity is wound remarkably tight so imagine what’s coming next from the Pietraforte in the Sa’Etta. Sapidity is exceptional, in fact in spite of fruit right on the button it’s really quite everything. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted February 2019

Podere Campriano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Le Balze Di Montefioralle 2015

Exactly Campriano, distinct and luxurious in its own perfect way. it’s so very Riserva, unctuous with red fruit that seems almost completely absent of wood. because of the land, a vineyard set in the forest “and still so very present.” That also means it’s in the wine. recognizable every year. Always. The vineyard is west facing above the Greve River, on old terraces, with old stones. You can drink this now even if it’s so young. Last tasted February 2019  poderecampriano  @ElenaCampriano  Elena Podere Campriano Lapini(Podere Campriano )  Elena Lapini

Just put to market, the vintage will surely have so much to say and that it in fact already does, with a combination of perfume and spice. Still dusty, with fennel and endemic herbs, teas and brushy plants. There’s a raspberry to dried currant fruitiness that ’14 doesn’t have, also more mid-palate flesh and overall juiciness. A different sort of structure, still with long capabilities but will likely go into a drier fruit profile after the seven year mark. Elena Lapini is a very busy agriturismo and viticoltore proprietor these days and if these most recent 100 per cent sangiovese from two sides of the Greve river tracks are any indication, she’ll be busier than ever before. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted September 2018

La Cappella

Podere La Cappella Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Querciolo Unfiltered 2015

Querciolo sees one year in barriques, of which 20 per cent is new. Takes off straight away from where the ’15 Annata wants it to, from a generosity and a perfume that stands apart because the vintage says so. There’s still a minor peppery reductive note and that will serve this wine so well going two decades further. One sip lingers so long on the back of the tongue, right in the middle, lingering like a bite of something marbled, a protein of layered flavour. Here you really get a sense of marine sediment and rocks one over the other, in perpetuity out of the soil. Drink 2021-2030. Tasted February 2019

Val Delle Corti Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015

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

Montecchio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Premium Line 2015

The Riserva is 95 per cent sangiovese with cabernet sauvignon and alicante bouschet. It ages for 26 months in grandi botti. Quite rich, even reductive, with its upside not yet available. As for Riserva it’s ripe, ripping, big, high in acidity and so necessary to wait at least two more years for it to settle down. Pulsates, quivers and sends shock waves around the mouth, with heavy-hitting sapidity and structural shudders. Quite amaro herbal and very, very long. There is some serious structure available for the log haul here. Impressive and demanding. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted February 2019

Podere Castellinuzza Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015

Podere Castellinuzza’s Riserva is one of Lamole’s most generous (100 per cent) sangiovese though not without the very particular salty-mineral-sapid streak the hill always delivers. Only 1,500 bottles were produced of this highly traditional Greve-Lamole ’15 and it’s most certainly a perfect foil for fresh pasta with pumpkin, roast chicken, pork and rabbit. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2019

Montefioralle Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015

So very young and powerful, just a few months in bottle. Primary and beautifully perfumed with the liquified deep fruit chalk of the frazioni and a hit of exotic spice. An intensity that ’14 just did not show and the polish we know to be the kind mastered out of Montefioralle by this passion project house. The liqueur is again one of textured silk, a viscosity to nearing the vanishing point of glück and in the end, total domination. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted September 2018 and February 2019


Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015

Bindi Sergardi Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Mocenni ’89 2015

There’s pure unbridled surprise in the delicasse and the gentility of this Gran Selezione, one of the more and even most charming of them all. The Mocenni texture is very present, very full, no holes, no peaks or valleys, just a calm and easy nature that finds no reason for stress. Pure fruit, Galestro and Alberese interwoven freshness. Proper, sweet and forward thinking tannins with a future ahead indeed. Drink 2020-2029. Tasted February 2019

Tenuta Cinciano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015

Cinciano’s is a true effort and tour de acidity force in 2015, with fruit drawn from the oldest blocks of great rock filled soils in Poggibonsi. It’s perfectly perfumed with exotica and the brushy herbs that grown on hillsides and in between rows. A wise and cultured GS that stands apart for its beauty and its power. Forged with great passion and insights to be clear and sure. Drink 2023-2033. Tasted February 2019

Le Fonti Di Panzano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015

Thirty months in wood and a year in bottle later, this top estate wine is the pinnacle of the Le Fonti aromatic certainty. A big vintage to be sure and one that extrapolates in every which way but loose. Taut, tight, firm, grippy and every other subset of structure you can imagine. The 100 per cent sangiovese ideal is acquiesced and believe it or not it failed DOCG designation on the first try. Who might see this as light, atypical or not ready for international prime time is surely missing the point. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted February 2019

Fattoria Montecchio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015

The vintage 2015 is the one for Montecchio ready and purposed for the category, done up two-thirds in barrel and one-third in amphora. You can feel it both in cured aromatics but also the texture, part salve and part hard savoury candy. Really takes on the Selezione category with charm and power, with ultra fine tannins and a balancing number of personality in acidity. Does what it must, by the reigns and drives a point. Here the terracotta amphora designed and built by the family business is employed to raise the character and the wonder of the sangiovese. The one third amphora adds great interest, something many other in the category could certainly use. The Riserva does not taste like this, nor does it carry this level of spice. Quite a thrill, long and rich. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted February 2019

Vallepicciola Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015

Chianti Classico and Gran Selezione get neither more modern nor more forward than this. The 2015 is a brooding boozy and stylish sangiovese. Dressed up of a flashy liqueur and a massive attack. Dark fruit, lots of wood, with notes of creosote, graphite and vanilla. Just wow. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted February 2019

Vicchiomaggio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG La Prima 2015

Made with a few percentage points of merlot, this is the a small-ish production Gran Selezione, a 100 hL output so the number is approximately 15,000 bottles produced. Really high-toned aromatically for Gran Selezione and then a palate of great richness and layering. Truly a selection created sangiovese, with drinkability and steak house amenability. Suits the style and the intent so perfectly. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2019

Chianti Classico DOCG 2014

Castell’in Villa Chianti Classico DOCG 2014

Immediate amore for the aromatics and the lack of supposition, for how this 100 per cent sangiovese is naturally careful, subtly handsome and respectfully direct. Lean but without angles or sharp, pointed edges, nor overtly weighted down in tang. Floral notes are stated in grace and like all of the Principessa’s wines from these Castelnuovo Berardenga vineyards, the singularity of restraint for power and and purity is duly recognized. Drink 2018-2024. Tasted November 2018 and February 2019   Castell In Villa  Les Importations Olea inc.  marino_castellinvillarestauran

Chianti Classico DOCG 2013

Castello Di Lamole Chianti Classico DOCG Le Stinche 2013

From the Lamole producer connected to one of Tuscany’s oldest castle properties, going back one thousand years and a high altitude vineyard restored 16 years ago. This is the sangiovese of the Macigno (sandstone) soil terraces of Lamole, richer than many of the frazione and deeper in textures and transitions. Raised in cement and tonneaux there are floral as well as smoky notes, almost tobacco but more like wild herbs and wood smoulder. You’ve not likely ever whiffed (or tasted) anything quite like Le Stinche, also known as “carcere delle Stinche,” the prison on Via Ghibellina in Florence. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted February 2019

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2013-2010

Castell’in Villa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2013

A blend of parcels ”though we know more or less the fields from where they come,” says Principessa Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa. Here we are introduced to the clarity and functionality of what Castell’in Villa has always purported to be, traditional while always moving in a forward direction of evolutionary necessity. There is no guessing game being played and the aromas are expressive of the property, in everything that grows, plus all that sits beneath and slowly rises to the surface of the fields. Flowers and rocks, together with grapes. It’s that simple really. Finesse and reality. Drink 2019-2028. Tasted February 2019

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Poggio Delle Rose 2010

From the hill parcel planted in 1990 to the old selezoine massale clones, from the original property, not the current “Chianti Classico” clones. “And there is a difference,” insists Principessa Coralia. Three or four years in grandi botti and older tonneaux so no, it’s not even close to ready. Yet the fcat that you don’t explicitly notice the tonneaux is its magic. A big and complex vintage with variability in temperature and precipitation but at the crucial moments it gave what was needed. There is a special presence about this sangiovese, because of the source but also how alive, bright-eyed and expressive it is. This pulses, vibrates and reverberates with ancient seabed salinity. No loss to finesse but more time will be required, to turn back time and back pages, for the true clarity and calm disposition to settle in. Extraordinary wine of restrained power and exceptional sangiovese. Has always been Riserva and “will never be Gran Selezione.” Drink 2021-2035. Tasted February 2019

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2013

Capannelle Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2013

This first edition of Gran Selezione for Capannelle is an amzing combination of authenticity and polish, with Gaiole’s infamous acidity and herbology combining to deliver a promise of today and for the future. The estate produces no Annata because winemaker Simone has always felt that the acidity here would be over the top in the freshest wines of the year. This Gran Selezione confirms the ideology but the near future may change the plan. Meanwhile kudos for waiting before making Gran Selezione and matched to Tagliatelle con Funghi Porcini. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted September 2018 and February 2019  capannelle  @Capannellewines

Fattoria Di Lamole Gran Selezione Chianti Classico DOCG Vigna Grospoli Antico Lamole 2013

From Paolo Socci in Lamole who also produces the alternating Annata/Riserva “Le Stinche” and who just may be Chianti Classico’s greatest and long-winded storyteller. Socci’s high altitude Greve-Lamole Grospoli vineyard is filled with Macigno stone and while Le Stinche adheres to history and tradition (both in style and the ode to the Florentine Prison’s connection to Lamole), this Gran Selezione hyperbolizes and accentuates both sides of the equation. Very smoky, high dense texture and big acids with this underbelly of sandy, gritty and grippy tannin. Once again, a most singular expression of sangiovese and Chianti Classico. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted February 2019

Good to go!

Godello

Panzano Sunset

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

WineAlign

Chianti Classico: Nine communes deep

Radda in Chianti

In February I travelled to Tuscany for the 2018 Anteprime. In Florence I spent two days tasting sangiovese at the Chianti Classico Collection held at Stazione Leopolda. My WineAlign colleague John Szabo M.S. and I then paid visits over the next two and a half days at Poggio di Guardia, Castello di Volpaia, Rocca di Montegrossi, Rocca di Castagnoli, Castello di Ama, Isole E Olena, Podere Poggio Scalette, San Giusto A Rentennano and Valiano. Once again I am proud to be a messenger on a subject that continues to write itself. Chianti Classico. Where the slow pace is grounded in grace and nature slowly renders an intoxication of faith. Where the exceptionality of place, experience and innovation can’t be underestimated.

Related – All in with Chianti Classico

Chianti Classico and the Gallo Nero, a symbol not only designed and enshrined to classify the wines, but to ingrain something deeper, meaningful and soulful. The Gallo Nero stamps each bottle of sangiovese with a seal of approval, for a conceit of quality.

Godello and #gallonero ~ #chianticlassico

Two years ago the Gallo Nero celebrated its 300 year anniversary. At that time the appellation’s newest and noblest expression at the top of the quality pyramid was introduced in Toronto, the Gran Selezione. In 2017 the focus was on sangiovese, the grape at the heart and centre of the Chianti Classico universe. This year the greater whole is broken down, to give due to the nine pieces of the territory’s puzzle and the villages at their core.

Chianti Classico goes nine communes deep: Barberino Val d’Elsa, Castellina in Chianti, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Gaiole in Chianti, Greve in Chianti, Poggibonsi, Radda in Chianti, San Casciano Val di Pesa and Tavarnelle Val di Pesa. Digging into these sub-zones of the territory is done with thanks to the generous work and spirit of Chianti Classico’s producers and with unwavering guidance from the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico: President Sergio Zingarelli, Vice-Presidents Sebastiano Capponi and Giovanni Manneti, Director Carlotta Gori, who I’d like to point out is the first woman to take the helm of the Consorzio Chianti Classico, PR & Communications Manager Silvia Fiorentini and Event Manager Christine Lechner.

Il Signore del Chianti Classico

Every wine region needs ambassadors to educate in the diaspora and as you can see in this picture, the first five were chosen this past February in Firenze. This was indeed one of the great honours of my life. I’m quite sure Jeffrey Porter, Michaela Morris, Massimo Castellani and Isao Miyajima felt the same.

Chianti Classico farmers and producers have spent three hundred organized years studying their soils to arrive at an understanding that this territory is better for growing sangiovese than all of the lands beyond its borders. This is very important. 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.

The first question to raise is why do we need to discuss Chianti Classico as composed of nine communes and why are many of them (along with smaller micro-territories or sub-sub zones) establishing associations to promote their wines? To communicate who they are and what kind of wine comes out of their section of the territory. These are things we need to recognize and talk about, not necessarily along lines of geology but rather in terms of community and especially styles and characteristics of the wines. Over the past two years I’ve made four visits to Chianti Classico and tasted more than six hundred wines. I truly believe that the sangiovese changes from commune to commune. While it may be far too difficult to say that each commune has a specific set of characteristics, the sangiovese made by each producer are in fact singular and surely related to the soil within the boundaries of their commune. We tried a very interesting exercise in Florence back in February, a blind tasting called La Prova dei Nove, or “The Proof of the Nine,” to see if 100-plus journalists and sommeliers could taste the commune through the sangiovese. I was 3 for 9 and quite pleased with myself. I sat with two prominent winemakers and one of them was 1 for 9.  The conclusion? It’s really hard to taste the commune. But I’ll tell you why it’s still very important to discuss Chianti Classico as a sum of these essential parts.

ine wines, nine communes, this will be easy…not so much #blindtasting @chianticlassico #laprovadeinove so thanks @drinkeatlove now I’ll have to think about and pen another 100,000 word

Let’s create a hypothetical situation. Imagine you are the average wine consumer in Ontario. You come into the LCBO looking for an Italian red wine, a Tuscan red. You see nine bottles of Chianti Classico. Five just say that on the bottle, two add the word Riserva and two Gran Selezione. These additional label notations and the prices tell you about the difference in probable quality but the bottles are still all the same, from the same place. How do you choose? Well, if each were labeled with the nine different communes you might be curious and pick one, let’s say from Gaiole. Then after tasting it you might think to yourself, I really like the Chianti Classico from Gaiole. Now you’ve entered a whole new world of discovery, of comparisons. Some of you might say “but the consumer doesn’t even know the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico. This just makes it harder.” The devil’s advocate would say, on the contrary, adding the commune to the label does not add confusion, it adds intrigue and raises the profile of all the communes and the wines. Like Volnay, like Pommard, like Marsannay. But Bourgogne has 84 AOCs. Chianti Classico are only nine and surely their names all refer to quality. All of them. Chianti Classico means quality. It means sangiovese. Discussing the wines in new terms like communes does not say that one is better than another or that the wines from any one are of higher quality. It simply updates the profile and raises the bar for all. Hypothetically speaking.

A coupla @chianticlassico ambassadors enjoying the moment. With Jeffrey Porter, a.k.a. @drinkeatlove

Many wine regions are defined by their soils and the fine lines that separate greatness from mediocrity. The two soil epochs of Barolo are divided by a diagonal line that runs from the northeast down to the southwest. On one side Tortonian and the other, Serravallian, both formed millions of years ago and each capable for producing different styles of nebbiolo. In Bordeaux one bank celebrates cabernet sauvignon while the other merlot and cabernet franc. In Chablis the Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards are specifically drawn while in greater Bourgogne the composition of the soil gradates from north to south and so that we know where pinot noir and chardonnay must be planted and for best probable results. In Montalcino we understand the differences between northern and southern vineyards but also know where you are relative to the hill of Montalcino and from which micro-climate will have a great effect on the wines.

So what about Chianti Classico? Comparing or thinking about Chianti Classico as needing to be understood like Bourgogne, Piemonte or Montalcino is not the answer. It’s not the same and never will be. Considering the communes as adding up to the whole is a step in the right direction.

The cartologist Alessandro Masnaghetti has concentrated on the parameters of each commune and drawn precise topographical maps. They are great resources for understanding where but still they don’t tell us why. Why do wines typically turn out the way they do? Remember that the crus of Chianti Classico are not farmed by multiple producers. So consider that the approach might best begin with the producer so that we don’t say this Chianti Classico from Castellina made by Rocca delle Macie tastes like this but rather, this Rocca delle Macie tastes this way and it is from Castellina, in Chianti Classico. It’s a subtle rearrangement but it must always begin with the producer.

Before we move on to the wines, one commune at a time, it should be noted that the 2017 vintage presented one of the greater challenges in recent Chianti Classico times. After the intense heat of the driest of summers it was essential that growers waited out the early September rains, followed by the beautiful and phenolic ripeness ensuring warmth of the next three weeks. “I noticed that most producers had already, inconceivably, finished harvesting by the 15th of September!!! A haste that can’t be positive.” These are the wisest of words from Rocca di Montegrossi’s Marco Ricasoli. It remains to be seen but we’ll see if Marco’s prophecy will ring true and be confirmed at Anteprime’s Chianti Classico Collection in February 2019.

These 112 reviews cover the wines I tasted at the February Chianti Classico Collection 2018 in Firenze and three subsequent days of touring through Chianti Classico.

Castellina in Chianti

Related – Castellina in golden light

Bibbiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2016, Tuscany, Italy (168286, $23.95, WineAlign)

Ripeness is the deeper virtu and virtue in Bibbiano’s ’16 and as always there is this push-pull of two terroirs. One is of fruit the other rock but both layer intersectional and complimentary. This is a breakthrough, if it may be said, an aha moment for a Bibbiano Annata, educational and exemplary. More reward will come from subsequent vintages. The block here is some firm Castellina tannin but even more so one specific to the Bibbiano plateau and angles. It’s important to wait at least a year for the pressed intensity to subside. Drink 2019-2024.  Tasted February 2018  bibbianowines  lesommelierwine  @bibbianowines  @LeSommelierWine  Bibbiano Chianti Classico  Le Sommelier, Wine Agency