|~ The Val d’Orcia ~|
Basic Requirements for Chianti Classico
|~ Castello di Volpaia, Radda in Chianti ~|
General Vintage Overview
As with all TuscanVines® tasting reports, wines were tasted with and without food, at the dinner table in a relaxed atmosphere. Prices provided are the importers SRP so local pricing may vary. If any of the wines submitted seemed amiss after tasting, they were tasted again blind at a later date. Finally, in order to give readers an idea of where their preference for terroir may lie, I am denoting the commune from where the wine hails at the beginning of each review. Enjoy!
I Vini di Chianti e Chianti Classico
|~ Sloping Vineyards at Podere Poggio Scalette, Greve in Chianti ~|
|~ 2011 Poggio Scalette Chianti Classico ~|
|~ Banfi Chianti Classico 2012: Benefactor of the excellent vintage I’d suspect. Not a fan of this label ~|
This past summer, I visited Castello di Volpaia and penned an article on the attractive hamlet located in Radda. Volpaia is unique. The winery and the surrounding buildings actually comprise the small village of Volpaia; population, about fifty.
|~ Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico 2011 ~|
|~ 2010 Chianti Classico Riserva, Banfi ~|
The 2012 Castellare Chianti Classico ~ Castellina in Chianti ~ is delicious. The medium ruby color is pretty and yields to a lovely aromatic profile replete with flowers, I swear I wrote Marigolds, crushed red cherries and soft spice notes. Ripe red fruits and spice greet the palate along with a trailing note of black olive. Very nice with a juicy fresh finish. With slivers of aged Pecorino, it absolutely sang. 90 points. SRP ~ $15.
|~ In true Tuscan tradition, this as better with food, than without. But with the former, it was delicious ~|
“Classico cannot be classic anymore if you blend it with international grapes!”
The Monopole of Monteraponi sits amid the gorgeous rolling hills of Radda and the quote above epitomizes Braganti’s vision for what his wine should be in a nutshell. Consistently they have been wonderful soulful wines. Such is the case with their most recent releases.
|~ Large Botte in the Cellars at Monteraponi ~|
|~ Delicious & consistent. Monteraponi is a “go to” producer ~|
|~ The single vineyard Il Campitello excelled with Pasta dressed with wild boar sausage ~|
|~ Now a single vineyard Chianti Classico Riserva, Coltassala is 100% Sangiovese ~|
There are two things in my mind that will be forever linked to Panzano: Dario Cecchini and Fontodi. Very little can go wrong when you start with organic grapes sourced from Tuscany’s illustrious Val d’Orcia region, add in a dedicated proprietor in Giovanni Manetti and then give the reins to the likes of Franco Bernabei. It’s a winning formula, and for this venerable Tuscan estate in Panzano, success almost seems a foregone conclusion.
|~ Proprietor Giovanni Manetti ~|
I’ve been critical of Fontodi’s Chianti Classico in the past; not because of the quality in the bottle, but for the prices the wines command. With the 2010 vintage, pricing seems to have eased on the Classico somewhat. Careful readers can locate this bottle between $25-$29 and at that price, I’ve stocked up.
The 2010 Fontodi Chianti Classico ~ Panzano ~ is a gorgeous deep shimmering ruby. The nose is replete with dusty Tuscan road, vibrant cherry, spices and tobacco. Compelling. On the palate, wonderful crushed cherry flavors are fresh and bright with added notes of earth, spices and lovely ripe tobacco. This is delicious and very classy. 92 points. Approximately $25.
|~ This wine was delicious in Tuscany and it’s just as delicious here at home ~|
Castellare is on a roll right now. With their 2012 Classico that reviewed so well above and now with that wine’s sibling, the 2011 Il Poggiale Chianti Classico Riserva ~ Castellina in Chianti. We decanted this wine for about 60 minutes as it was very tight upon opening. It’s a dark ruby in the glass with penetrating aromas of coffee, cherries, leather and dusty spices on the nose. The flavors match the aromas well with a strong added note of fresh fennel that is very appealing. This is full bodied and very muscular with large scale acids and tannins ramped up in balance with the fruit. Well done. 92 points. SRP ~ $45.
|~ This mostly Sangiovese Chianti Classico Riserva is a great effort in 2011 ~|
Not far from the reaches of Panzano lies the small hamlet of Barberino d’ Elsa; home to many a fine winery including Castello di Monsanto. Run today by family proprietor Laura Bianchi, the estate has always been a bastion of time honored production methods. Laura summed it up nicely for me:
“Our goal is to make wines of integrity and personality that are true to their terroir. And if this means that we have had to back away from certain technological advances and remain firm in the face of pressure to make wines of the moment, it’s a risk my family and I have been more than willing to take.”
|~ Proprietor & Winemaker Laura Bianchi ~|
The classically produced 2011 Chianti Classico Riserva ~ Barberino d’Elsa ~ is a medium ruby color. The wine is a traditional blend, with 90% Sangiovese joined by 5% each of Colorino and Canaiolo. Pretty floral aromatics present the nose with tightly wound cherry and spice aromas contributing. On the palate, there is a nice core of bright berry fruit with leaf tobacco, cake spices, and a trace of vanilla. Good balance. Paired very well with chianti braised chicken with spinach. 90 points. SRP ~ $24.
|~ The Castello di Monsanto Riserva is a very nice value – even moreso if you like the traditional style ~|
Fattoria Petriolo lies in Rignano Sull ‘Arno southeast of Florence. Proprietro Matteo Sorelli runs the estate, which has been home to many Tuscan families over the centuries. Most of the estate was originally planted in 1932, but replantings have been made between 5 and 25 years ago.
The 2011 Chianti Riserva is a blend of 90% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet and 5% Merlot. In the glass, the wine is a deep vibrant ruby. Lively aromas of fresh raspberry, tobacco and pepper are notable. This is full bodied with finely knit tannins. The core of berry fruit add dried herbs, pepper and a mild astringency to the tannins at the moment. Matured 6 months in botte and 2 months in barrique before release. This is more rustic and needs food. With Stufato di Maiale it was a nice foil. 86 points. EU only.
|~ A nice effort and I absolutely love the label ~|
We are very familiar with Tolaini here at TuscanVines and with good reason. Quality wine. Great people. Excellent breadth to the portfolio. However, this report includes something new from Tolaini – a first taste of their new Gran Selezione.
The 2011 Tolaini Chianti Classico Gran Selezione ~ Castelnuovo Berardenga ~ is a gorgeous black ruby color. Very deeply hued. The nose is absolutely fantastic with espresso bean, cherry cordial, bitter chocolate and fennel combining. Wow! On the palate, the wine is equally impressive with ripe cherry, fennel and spice notes fading to soft leather on the finish. This is awesome. 93 points ~ SRP $35.
|~ 100% Sangiovese from the Montebello Vineyard on the Tolaini Estate ~|
Podere Poggio Scalette became an autonomous wine-producing estate in 1991 when noted wine consultant Vittorio Fiore and his wife Adriana Assjè di Marcorà acquired several plots of land and a rural building on the hill of Ruffoli, in the commune of Greve. The vineyards lie on terraced slopes, called “Il Carbonaione” by the local peasants and were among the first vineyards planted immediately after World War I.
The 2012 Chianti Classico ~ Greve ~ is a much stronger effort than the 2011 addressed above. To this I can only assume the 2012 vintage for Podere Scallette to be more favorable than its predecessor.
A medium ruby with violet reflections in the glass, this has pretty aromatic floral notes with crushed berry and piney underbrush notes. Much fresher on the palate than the 2011, this is fleshier, silkier with ripe cherry fruit, a touch of vanilla and pretty earth notes. Really very nice and another harbinger of the wonderful 2012 vintage in Tuscany. 88 points, SRP ~ $22.
|~ A winner from Vittorio Fiore ~|
Rocca della Macie fell out of favor in the late 1990’s and went through a middling phase of production. I was never really able to put my finger on it, but whether it was too many purchased grapes contributing to lack of control or poor cellar methods, all that seems to be a thing of the past.
The 2009 Chianti Classico ~ Castellina in Chianti ~ is a wonderful effort. Medium ruby in the glass, with some violet reflections, this wine reminds me of it’s older sibling I reviewed not long ago.
The taster is greeted by aromas of ripe cherry and soft spice notes. On the palate, the flavors follow the nose and add a sense of minerality and a dusty tone. This is very nice. Approachable now and a very good value at under $12. 88 points.
|~ The Zingarelli family has this estate headed in the right direction ~|
Perhaps the next wine was one of the more unique in the tasting. The 2010 San Felice Chianti Classico ~ Castelnuovo Berardenga ~ sports an interesting blend that is 80% Sangiovese, 10% Colorino and 10% Pugnitello. The latter grape was nearly extinct until the San Felice team revived it.
The 2010 is classically styled. The medium ruby wine has soft fruit and spice aromas. Red plums and cinnamon dot the palate in this straight forward workhorse. Tasty enough, but not the most complex wine in this report. 86 points. SRP ~ $15.
|~ This odd blend features 10% Pugnitello – an obscure grape almost extinct in Tuscany ~|
As I mentioned above, the Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva was very nice. But if you want it nicer, then this is your chance…
The 2009 Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva “Il Poggio” ~ Barberino d’Elsa ~ is a stunning wine from a wonderful vintage. And less readers be confused; 2009 was much fresher in Chianti Classico than it was in Brunello where the heat of the vintage played a much more prominent role. This brightly colored violet to ruby wine has effusive aromas of flowers, spice, new leather and lively crushed berry notes. Wild berry fruit on the palate dominates with added hints of tobacco and dried herbs. This is lovely, lovely and despite its accessibility at the moment, will drink well easily until its 10th birthday. 93 points. SRP ~ $50.
|~ The label as classy as the wine ~|
The next wine up was the sibling wine from Petriolo. I expected this to be a “lesser” wine than the Riserva tasted above simply because it lacked the Riserva designation but I was proven emphatically wrong. The 2012 Petriolo Chianti ~ Valdarno ~ is a deep ruby colored wine with wonderful aromas of earth, berry and tobacco. Bright focused crushed berry on the palate with large framed fruit. Excellent structure and balance with a long finish replete with fruit, herbs and sweet pipe tobacco. Impressive indeed. 91 points. EU Only.
|~ This is a wine my European Readers should eagerly seek out ~|
The estate of Fonte Alla Selva lies in the heart of Castellina in Chianti just down the road from Villa Cerna and Rocca della Macie. Castello Banfi has recently acquired the sole rights to the property and has signed a 30 year lease to manage the estate. The results have been immediate and stunning. The 2012 Fonte Alla Selva Chianti Classico ~ Castellina in Chianti ~ is a deep garnet color. Lovely aromas of ripe red fruits with dried herbs, flowers and spices are prevalent. Flavors follow the nose with an added mineral tactile sense that is very appealing. Silky, ripe tannins. This has a long, lovely finish and is a new player in Chianti Classico to be reckoned with. 92 points. SRP ~ $22-$25.
|~ Fonte Alla Selva hand harvests the Sangiovese and the grapes are transported to the Castello Banfi winery in Montalcino ~|
I’ve written lots about Castello di Bossi and the wines of the Bacci family so given that impressive track record, I expected nothing less from their Riserva in a great vintage. Mission accomplished.
The 2010 Chianti Classico Riserva Berardo ~ Castelnuovo Berardenga ~ is impressive on all fronts. It’s a gorgeous deep ruby color with violet reflections throughout. It’s got it all on the nose. Pipe tobacco, flowers, violets, menthol, crushed wild berries…and more. Intense aromas. The flavors are full bodied, ripe and balanced with new leather, turned earth, crushed cherry and a trace of mint. I adore this wine and while not inexpensive, it’s worth the tariff. An added bonus? This will cellar well for 10-15 years. 94 points. SRP ~ $40
|~ The Single Vineyard 100% Sangiovese – another beautiful wine from the Bacci family ~|
Not to be out done – the younger sibling of Castello di Bossi seems to say “Hey, what about me?” what about you indeed….
The Castello di Bossi 2010 is a wonderful Chianti Classico. It simply screams Toscana in all aspects and captures the essence of the Sangiovese grape perfectly. It’s a deep garnet with violet highlights – vibrant, intense and welcoming in color. Aromatically, the wine borders on profound. I realize that’s a strong word, but it reflects everything I feel must be included in a Chianti Classico. There’s floral notes, crushed wild red fruits, sweet pipe tobacco, soft earthy notes and wonderful Tuscan herb highlights. On the palate, the wine is concentrated and well balanced with moderate tannins and acids that keep the wine fresh and enhance it’s marriage with food. There’s abundant crushed red berry with added notes of fennel, tobacco leaf and a soft hint of coffee. It’s just an absolute joy to drink and it’s also a great value. Stock up on this. 92 points. SRP ~ $17.
|~ Check out the color on this pure Sangiovese ~|
I was not at all familiar with the next wine in this report but it garnered the praise of a salesman at my local market so I figured I’d give it a try. Sometimes you get burned by this strategy, but the price wasn’t bad so I took a flyer.
Natale Verga is a large producer of wine via mainly purchased grapes. The company makes wines from Barolo, Chianti, Prosecco and Abruzzo to name just a few. The 2010 Chianti Classico Riserva ~ Castellina in Chianti ~ is very nice. It’s a medium ruby with lots of dried herbs, spices and cherry on the nose. In the mouth, there’s a substantial dusty texture to the core of red fruit with silky tannins that make this ready to drink now. There’s lots of ripe berry and cherry to enjoy. With more air time, a bit of tobacco leaf emerged on the nose. Elegant and full bodied, this isn’t one to age, but will easily last 3-5 years and is quite a nice value at $15. 89 points. SRP ~ $15.
|~ From a large Fattoria comes this very nice Chianti Classico Riserva ~|
Volpaia’s origins date back to the year 1172, but it wasn’t until the mid 1970’s that the Mascheroni Stianti family, led by the husband and wife team of Carlo and Giovanella, decided to modernize the winery and begin commercial production on a scale never before implemented at Volpaia.
For this report we tasted the 2010 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva ~ Radda ~ At once you are struck by the intense inky dark color of this Riserva. In the glass, the wine is a deep purple hued violet with nary a trace of lightening clear through to the rim of the glass.
|~ Very versatile: Paired well with Bistecca Fiorentina and Swordfish with a “Puttanesca Relish” ~|
|~ Although a bit infused with some oak aromas, they did not detract on the palate. ~|
The wines reviewed in this article scored between 84-94 points; so finding a quality bottle of Sangiovese is not hard given the excellent string of vintages spanning 2010-2012.
In many cases, the wines – especially the Riservas – can be excellent values since they compare favorably to Vino Nobile and Brunello and are typically slightly less expensive than those Tuscan contemporaries.
By including the Commune where the grapes were harvested, it’s my hope that the reader can glean additional information to guide their purchases. For my tastes, I’ve discovered my preference for wines from Panzano, Castellina and Radda. Not a bad starting point.
As always, thanks to the importers and distributors who contributed to this report and for your support of TuscanVines.