Chianti Classico is churning out the wines. Perhaps it’s partly an easing of the pandemic supply chain log jam. Perhaps it’s importers finally moving vintages. Whatever the reason, a cursory glance down any wine shop aisle reveals vintages on sale from 2015-2020.
Like previous installments of this report, many vintages are represented. These are the wines that producers and importers supplied for this article. To some degree, they are all currently available on the market, or when specially noted, directly from the producer. Let’s get to it!
I Vini di Chianti Classico
I’m starting with a wine that hits what I like to call the “vinous trifecta”. That means it’s high quality, excellent value and made by wonderful people.
Back in 2019, I spent a wonderful day with Valeria Losi from Querciavalle. The Losi’s have a rich winemaking history that extends back to 1800’s. Today their farm covers 50 hectares in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga. Approximately 20 hectares are under vine, from which the Losi’s produce several distinctive wines. The remaining land is devoted to the family home, olive trees, grains and other arable crops.
The 2019 Querciavalle Chianti Classico, Castelnuovo, is a wonderful, deep ruby color with violet highlights throughout. This submitted bottle was a sample pulled from barrel. On the nose, the aromas are primary, laser focused and ultra fresh. Bright berry, soft sandalwood, red flowers and fresh fennel are amazing. On the palate, this is loaded with crushed cherry, fresh herbs and juicy acidity. With additional cask and bottle maturation, I’m really excited to see where this ends up. 92 points.
Available directly from the winery. Plus, if you’re on my October Rustic Tuscany Tour, you will very likely be tasting this wine on the property.
A little over a year ago I introduced you to Susanna Soderi and her little slice of Castellina; Setriolo. That feature, which included a brief interview, focused on the newly released 2016s. Today, I’m turning over the vintage.
The 2017 Setriolo Chianti Classico, Castellina, is a deep crimson color with violet highlights in the glass. Black cherry, alkaline notes, worn leather and clay on the nose form an interesting array of aromas. On the palate, deep black cherry flavors dominate. Also shows hints of fresh herbs and crushed stone. This is ripe and medium to full bodied with a large frame of tannins that need food to mellow. This is slightly “hot” as a reflection of the vintage. Not a wine I’d select to age but it’s pretty tasty right now. Drink over the next 2-3 years. 87 points. Available directly from the winery.
Almost a year ago, I profiled two of the most recent releases from Nicolo Pozzoli of Fattoria Lornano. Lornano rests near the small hamlet of Monteriggioni, though stylistically to me, the wines present themselves similar to the Castellina terroir.
Lornano practices sustainable agriculture under the watchful eye of Silvio Campatelli. Specifically, this includes utilizing only natural fertilizers and preservation of natural resources. No chemical fertilizers or man made herbicides are employed. As a result, the equilibrium with the local environment is well balanced for the production of premium grapes.
The 2017 Fattoria Lornano Chianti Classico Riserva, Castellina, is a bright violet to ruby in color and is 100% Sangiovese. The wildly aromatic nose which features crushed berry, lilac and lavender is brilliant. Absolutely lovely in the mouth with rich, crushed black cherry, zippy berry, tobacco leaf, cocoa, cedar and fresh herb flavors that meld nicely. Tannins shorten the finish just a bit. Could use 1-2 years to soften but this is fresh and lively; especially in the vintage. Bravo! 93 points. Not yet fully released. Find this wine.
Bettino Ricasoli is credited with creating and promoting the original formula for Chianti wine. He proved to be remarkably prescient even as he was refining the formula for what would ultimately become Chianti. His early writings from 1872 provide insight to his thinking.
” …I verified the results of the early experiments, that is, that the wine receives most of its aroma from the Sangioveto (which is my particular aim) as well as a certain vigour in taste; the Canaiuolo gives it a sweetness which tempers the harshness of the former without taking away any of its aroma, though it has an aroma all of its own; the Malvagia, which could probably be omitted for wines for laying down, tends to dilute the wine made from the first two grapes, but increases the taste and makes the wine lighter and more readily suitable for daily consumption…”
The 2019 Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico, Gaiole, is a medium ruby color clear to the rim. Dried herbs, cured meat, crushed berries and sandalwood aromas are fragrant on the nose. Medium bodied with juicy wild berry fruit that is accented with toasted spices. Sapid, with savory mouth watering herbs. Perhaps it shortens up a bit on the finish. Fermented in stainless & aged in a variety of barrels. 87 points. Find this wine.
Querceto di Castellina has been in the Masini family since 1945 when Guido Masini, originally from Florence, acquired the estate. Today, the 200-acre property has become a countryside retreat for the family but in 1989 Guido’s daughter Laura resumed managing the estate and producing wine.
The 2020 Querceto di Castellina “L’Aura” Chianti Classico, Castellina, is a certified organic wine named for Laura di Battista. The wine pours a deep violet in the glass. Iron and black plum notes mark the nose and there’s savory herbs too. However, the palate is angular and somewhat lean. Plums and cranberry on the nose are slightly tart. This isn’t bad but I can’t get past the crunchy, tart nature of the fruit. Maybe it’s vintage related? But…. 85 points. Find this wine.
San Felice is the largest producer in Castelnuovo Berardenga with almost 700 hectares devoted to wine production. The historic estate is run by the Allianz Group who own vineyards in Chianti Classico, Brunello and Bolgheri. While I find their entry level wines sometimes lacking, their upper tier wines are usually excellent and such is the case with their new Gran Selezione.
The 2017 San Felice Poggiorosso Gran Selezione, Castelnuovo, is 100% Sangiovese. Deep garnet to bright ruby in the glass, this is dark with very cool violet lasers richocheting throughout. Roasted Hazelnut aromas are huge, and joined by fresh crushed cherry and fresh violets. There is power on the palate. Viscous Morello cherry, dried fennel, roasted nuts and rosemary are complex and seamlessly woven. Round and ripe with cleansing acidity, the finish goes on and on. Slightly tart crunchy tannins emerge on the back end but this is seriously good. Brawny. 93 points.
Andrea Cecchi has been driving his family wineries toward higher quality for many years now. Whether it’s new acquisitions in Castellina (Villa Rosa) or the exciting new project in Montalcino, the Cecchi line combines value and quality across different appellations and price points.
The 2019 Storia di Famiglia Chianti Classico, Castellina, is a medium ruby color with slight lightening at the iodine rim. The nose of bright raspberry and salume is very pretty. Light to medium bodied flavors are bright on the palate with fresh berry and cherry flavors. Simple, but not bland. Easy drinking and in a vintage as good as 2019, a pleasing value. 86 points. Find this wine.
During Part 1 of this coverage, I introduced you to the Classico from Castello di Uzzano, a small family estate located in the hills just outside Greve. Winemaker Nicolo Uzzano is practicing organic viticulture with wonderful success. The entrant in this report is equally impressive.
The 2015 Castello di Uzzano Chianti Classico Riserva, Greve, is a deep ruby in the glass. The aromas leap from the stem. Wild cherry, freshly cut flowers, grilled mushroom and tobacco leaf are absolutely wonderful. On the palate, the flavors echo the nose with seamless precision and harmony. I can’t imagine a better value in the vintage and at the Riserva level than this $20 gem. 93 points.
The story of Fattoria Poggerino is a familiar one. Originally, the property was a country vacation home of Prince Conti, the head of one of Florence’s oldest families. Over the years, his daughter inherited the estate and since 1988 it has been run by her son and daughter Piero and Benedetta Lanza.
The Lanza’s farm Il Poggerino organically. There are 43 hectares of vineyards, olive groves and forest in the hills of Radda.
The 2019 Poggerino Chianti Classico, Radda, is a fully organic Sangiovese. It’s a deep, medium ruby with violet highlights in the glass. Fresh fennel, flowers and wild berries on the nose are rather pretty. Bright fruit on the palate is ripe and concentrated. Juicy and lively, this is really delicious and absolutely wonderful with pasta with fresh garden tomatoes and basil. 88 points. Find this wine.
We started this report with the yet to be released Chianti Classico 2019. Now we pivot to the latest Riserva to be released. Querciavalle is not on any time line. Wines are released when they are ready. In a time when many estates are releasing 2020 Classico or 2018 Riserva, the Losi’s take their time. We reap the benefits.
The 2015 Querciavalle Chianti Classico Riserva, Castelnuovo, is a deep garnet color with lighter ruby highlights. Crushed cherry, pipe tobacco, fresh herbs and toasted spices on the nose are utterly amazing. There are hints of dusty mineral and cocoa too. Wow! Bright, ripe wild berry on the palate is backed by dried herbs, tobacco leaf, baking spices and hints of cured meat. One of the most compelling Riserva I’ve had in a long time. Bravo! 97 points. And a killer value. Available directly from the winery.
Finally, we close with another wonderful wine. As I wrote originally, 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. This small scale and focus contributes to the amazing quality they produce.
The 2015 Podere il Palazzino Grosso Sanese Gran Selezione, Gaiole, is a monumental red. Deep ruby in the glass, the color fades to a sunburst note at the rim of the bowl. Wonderful aromas of black cherry, porcini, crushed flowers, tobacco leaf and powdered cocoa leap from the glass. On the palate, the wine is full bodied and fresh. Bright, juicy black cherry fruit dances on the palate surrounded by coffee bean, dark cocoa, fennel and sweet pipe tobacco. An amazing wine and I think the best wine I’ve ever tasted from the Gaiole Commune. Wow! 96 points. Find this wine.
Well, that’s a wrap on this installment. Originally, I had planned that this would be the final piece of this report. However, I am still being contacted and receiving samples which producers want included. Therefore, there will be a 4th installment coming and perhaps even a 5th. In the meantime, shop around because as I mentioned, there are so many vintages in the pipeline right now, you want to make sure you maximize your value. Choose wisely!