As I wrote in my first installment on the current releases from Chianti Classico, the 2019 vintage is a standout and earns high marks for its quality. This is something that really shouldn’t be understated. Just 10 years ago, a vintage like 2019 may not have been so successful. It could very well have resulted in wines similar in style to a decade before; 2009. That incredibly warm vintage was marked by overripe, high alcohol and unbalanced reds. Lessons learned. As a result of the meticulous vineyard practices the majority of estates now employ, 2019 produced amazing wines. Those methods, along with a determination for quality, are paying substantial dividends.
I Vini di Chianti Classico
Vignamaggio has been producing wine in some capacity in Tuscany since 1404. The fully organic estate spans over 400 hectares which includes vineyards, extensive vegetable and ornamental gardens. Of that total, only 70 are devoted to vines.
The Terre di Prenzano is Vignamaggio’s youngest wine and takes its name from the old Vignamaggio homestead. The wine is 100% Sangiovese and spends a year aging in a variety or barrels.
The 2019 Vignamaggio Terre di Prenzano Chianti Classico hails from Greve. This organic and biodynamic Sangiovese is a bright medium ruby color with violet highlights. Shy berries on the nose also exhibit hints of spices and toasted nuts. Rather austere on the palate. Iodine and iron flavors are prominent but there is some cherry lurking there. May improve with a year or two in the bottle but right now there’s not enough fruit for my tastes. 87 points. Find this wine.
Despite the many positive articles I’ve penned over the years, I get the feeling that Carpineto is STILL undervalued. It’s kind of crazy. I come to this conclusion from several different angles; by observing people at trade events or tastings, in dealing with retailers and distributors and in seeing the way the wine is perceived in wine shops. It’s crazy because the value and quality is there across the board.
The 2019 Carpineto Chianti Classico, from Greve. is a bright medium ruby with violet highlights. It’s almost the identical color of Vignamaggio. Bright berry, red flowers and hints of minerality mark the attractive nose. Ripe red cherry fruit, though slightly monolithic, is very pretty. Fresh and lively, with dusty tannins this is a very good effort and value. Tasted twice. Once for this report and once at the Grand Chianti Classico tasting in NYC. 89 points. Find this wine & Support Tuscan Vines.
Badia a Coltibuono is an icon. Throughout history, the estate, wines, oil and other products have become hallmarks on the Tuscan landscape. I’ve written about this Abbey turned winery/agriturismo many times before and always come away impressed. Not just with the wines, but with the people. In this interview with Emma Stucchi Prinetti, she showed the grace and willingness to chat about a variety of issues impacting Coltibuono and Chianti Classico. And this, despite that I had recently been critical of some of their wines. Not this time.
The 2017 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico Riserva, Gaiole, is a deep, almost impenetrable ruby red. Absolutely wonderful aromas of wild berry, alkalinity, flowers and cake spices are complex on the nose. Medium bodied with slightly austere berry fruit that is accented with minerality and dried tobacco leaf. Not as vibrant on the palate as the nose, but perhaps some bottle age will benefit this one. The freshness is impressive given the difficult, hot vintage. 89 points. Find this wine.
I have been rather critical of the wines from Isole e Olena over the past few years. Though Cepparello has routinely met expectations, the Chianti Classico has fallen woefully short. And I feel badly about that. You won’t meet a nice man in all of Tuscany than Paolo de Marchi, but his Chianti Classico went off the rails for several vintages. As a result, I had some trepidation about the 2019.
The 2019 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico, Barberino Tavernelle, is a bright ruby red with slightly darker violet highlights at its core. Bright berry notes on the palate with hints of dried tobacco leaf are very nice. Fresh and bright on the palate. Cherry and wild berry notes are juicy and mouthwatering. Medium bodied with good persistence. Nice sweet finish with dried oregano notes. First time in a long time I’ve enjoyed, let alone been impressed, with this wine. Glad for Paolo. Bravo! 88 points. Let’s see if this starts a roll. Find this wine.
Since the mid 19th century, the Sderci family have owned and farmed Il Palazzino. Today the estate is owned by Alessandro and Andrea and stretches for approximately 20 hectares, the majority of which are vines. A few small olive groves comprise the balance. The focus is heritage and the family produces only two Sangiovese based wines; a Chianti Classico and a Gran Selezione.
The 2017 Podere Il Palazzino Argenina Chianti Classico, Gaiole, is a deep ruby. Cherries, flowers and toasted spices mark the nose. Very nice! On the palate, this is fabulous. Really gorgoues. Deep cherry flavors are accented by dark cocoa, pipe tobacco and fennel. Finish goes on and on. Held well over 2 days! A beautiful Classico. 93 points Find this wine.
I was not too familiar with Castello Vicchiomaggio. I’ve had their wines sporadically over the years but don’t generally see them on shelves. Recently, at the Grand Chianti Tasting in NYC, I got the chance to taste these during the walk around portion of the event. The line of wines were very impressive.
Brothers Giovanni and Paolo Matta run the centuries old property which boasts a manageable 34 hectares of vineyards. At Chianti tasting, it was Giovanni Matta who was presenting the wines. His energy was infectious, but he was equally realistic at how difficult the 2017 and 2018 vintages were. He had high praise for 2019, like just about everyone else.
The 2019 Castello Vicchimaggio Chianti Classico, Greve, is a pretty, bright ruby color. Flowers, berry and spice immediately greet the taster. Bright berry flavors in the mouth coat the palate with sapid flavors of herbs and dusty spices adding complexity. A pretty raspberry vanilla cream note rounds the acidity on the finish. Have to say, I love this. 90 points. Find this wine.
Fattoria Poggerino is another organic entrant in this report. The estate spans approximately 106 hectares of which 43 are devoted to vineyards. The first wine from this property is their newest creation (N)Uovo. The careful play on words results from the aging regimen for the wine. Specifically, once crushed in the Autumn, by December the wine is racked to cement eggs where it undergoes malolactic fermentation.
The 2019 Poggerino Nuovo Chianti Classico, Radda, is a 100% Organic Sangiovese with a bright, dark ruby and violet highlights. Bright berry and fresh flowers on the nose are fresh and attractive. A faint touch of wood and fennel add further complexity. Medium to full bodied black cherry notes sit firmly on the palate; concentrated and ripe. Slight tinge of fresh herbs before notable tannins grip on the back end. Hints of cured olives dot the finish. This is a very attractive Classico that is built to age. Enjoy now and over the next 5 years. 91 points.
San Felice is the largest producer in Castelnuovo Berardenga with almost 700 hectares devoted to wine production. The family own vineyards in Chianti Classico, Brunello and Bolgheri and while I find their upper tier wines to be interesting, their everyday reds lack some pizzazz.
The 2019 San Felice Chianti Classico, Castelnuovo, is a bright ruby color. Aromas of red berries, herbs and vanilla on the nose are pleasant. Fresh, light to medium bodied with attractive notes of wild berry, soft spice and vanilla. The length is cut short slightly by a bit of austere dryness. This could be better, but it’s a serviceable base Classico. A small nit to pick; there is nothing avant garde about this wine. The blend is Sangiovese, Colorino, Canaiolo and Pugnitello. I’m not sure that serves the denomination well. Full Slavonian cask aging. 86 points. Find this wine and Support TuscanVines.
In 1959 Bruno Fronti was running a small agricultural business with his sons Fabio and Stefano. They were peasants in the true sense, but humbled by and proud of their work. Part of this work was tending grapes and finally, in 1982, the family bought their first hectare of vineyards. Today, the Fronti’s own 20 hectares of vineyards spread between Radda and Gaiole. For years the family sold their wine in bulk and finally in 2009 began bottling under their own label. In that short span, Istine has risen to the top. Proprietor Angela Fronti is creating amazing wines. The 2019 version of the wine included in this report is a must have upon release.
The 2018 Istine LeVigne Chianti Classico Riserva, Radda, is a pretty violet color. Aromas of floral perfume, cured meats and black cherry on the nose are compelling. Dusty cherry and leather on the palate are medium to full in body. Dried herbs are added in as well. This is really nice for a 2018, and gets better with air, but it turns a bit dry and austere on the finish and struggles in the absence of food. Plus, I can’t imagine the value is very compelling. 90 points. Find this wine
Finally, we close this part with a wonderful wine that proudly carries the legacy of Louie Tolaini. In a litany of good men, Louie was among them for sure. The first time I met him, he talked my ear off as though he’d known me is entire life. It was an endearing trait and it made a lasting impression. His daughter Lia follows in his footsteps.
The 2019 Tolaini Chianti Classico Vallenuova, Castelnuovo, is a bright ruby with violet highlights. Really fresh aromas of garden herbs, fresh iris, crushed cherry and dried tobacco leaf mark the aromatic nose. Medium to full viscous body with black cherry, spicy herb and sapid notes that accent the fruity body. This is so aromatic. The fennel laced finish is long, juicy and lively. This is more Sangiovese than one might expect for the price point. I love it. 93 points. Dare I say it should cellar for a year? Find this wine.
And here’s a little teaser for you all….. Tolaini is going to be on the itinerary for my Rustic Tuscany Tour in October 2023. The vineyard is amazing and their wines are some incredible values for the type. Use the search feature on this website to read more about them.
Part 2 of this coverage continues to reinforce the greatness of 2019 and the blandness of 2018. It also shows again that 2017 falls somewhere in the middle depending on how the wines were treated. But these are generalizations and even within this coverage you can find exceptions. Shop carefully and stick to producers you know. Consider the commune too – which is why I’ve highlighted the source for every wine in this report.
Part 3 is coming with some wonderful wines from Querciavalle, Felsina, Istine and more…..