Chianti Classico

~ The view of Siena from the Querciavalle Vineyards in Chianti Classico ~

Chianti Classico and their importers are backlogged with vintages.  Although the covid pandemic supply chain woes have eased, shipping is still fraught with roadblocks.  In local wine shops, it’s easy to find wines from vintages 2015 through 2020. That’s a large swath of wine to navigate.  Where should you put your dollars?  What vintages should you focus on or avoid?  Read on…

I Vini di Chianti Classico

Badia a Coltibuono has been a stalwart producer for generations.  Emma Stucchi Prinetti is as charming as her wines and it seems the estate never misses a beat whether it’s the more traditional bottlings or something more obscure.

2019 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico, Gaiole: This is a deep, medium ruby color. Bright, beautiful nose of ripe cherries, cured meat, new leather and fresh herbs.  Flavors marry the palate and are fresh and juicy.  Long, zippy finish turns a bit drying. But I think this is delicious and will only improve with 1-2 years in bottle.  This is Coltibuono’s most traditional Chianti Classico.  91 points.   Find this wine.

Chianti Classico

~ A simply classic, almost timeless Chianti Classico ~

Nestled near the sleepy, walled hill town of Monteriggioni is the picturesque Lornano Estate. Since 1904, the Pozzoli’s have run the estate and while 119 years may sound like a long time, it’s a pittance compared to many estates in Tuscany.

Core to the family’s philosophy is natural, sustainable agriculture. Lornano promotes equilibrium between their vineyards and the surrounding environment. Because of this commitment, their wines are free of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and contain only naturally occurring sulfates.  Franco Bernabei consults.

2018 Lornano Chianti Classico, Castellina in Chianti: This is deep ruby with violet highlights in the glass. Pretty aromas of red berries on the nose with a small hint of stemminess.  Pretty cherry fruit on the palate mixes with toasted spice notes but then the tannins present themselves in a drying, slightly bitter/stemmy fashion.  This is a good effort but the vintage won here. 85 points.   Find this wine & Support Tuscan Vines.

Fattoria Lornano Chianti Classico in glass

~ The Lornano Chianti Classico is a great representation of Monteriggioni. Yes, this is an older picture.  I missed shooting the 2018 ~

San Felice is the largest land holder in Castelnuovo Berardenga.  San Felice is actually a small village whose name comes from the ancient church Pieve San Felice in Pincis which dates back to the Etruscan era. Covering a span of more than 600 hectares, San Felice divides its wine into two categories; the “Premium Line” and the “San Felice” line.  Today’s wine comes from the latter.

The 2019 San Felice Il Grigio Chianti Classico Riserva  (Castelnuovo Berardenga) is a deep ruby color.  Any sort of nose is absent from the glass even when decanted.  After some decanting, a shy nose of spices and berries emerge.  On the palate, this is lean, with dried fruit and herb notes.  I fail to see how a wine from some of the lowest lying vineyards in the southerly portion of Chianti Classico can produce a wine so lean and austere.   Not sure what’s going on but it’s not compelling. Very disappointed. 84 points.  Find this wine.

Chianti Classico

~ This 100% Sangiovese Gran Selezione seems to lack some of the complexity and character I expect from the category ~

Many of my readers will recall the wonderful pandemic era Zoom call we had with proprietor Susanna Soderi that introduced them to this boutique winery in Castellina in Chianti.   With only 3.5 hectares to farm, Susanna is hands on with every aspect of production.  The wines are hers.

The 2018 Setriolo Chianti Classico (Castellina in Chianti) is a pretty, medium ruby. Aromas of fresh herbs like tarragon and lavender with bright berry fruit are notable in the glass.  Hints of white pepper too.  On the palate, the wine is focused and medium bodied.  Cherry, spice and dried herb notes are prevalent.  This is rather good, but you can still tell it’s not from an optimal vintage.  Many of the 2018s seem to possess this sort of dried out/dried herb character.  I’ve noticed it many times across the board now.  Still, it may be one of the better 2018s I’ve had.  86 points.   Order directly via email from Susanna.  The wines are great values.

Chianti Classico

~ Susanna is a wonderful winemaker but even she couldn’t hide the character of 2018 completely ~

The 2019 Riecine Chianti Classico was so wonderful; maybe one of the best wines I’ve had in the vintage from Gaiole.  So I was expecting great things from the follow up.  I’m left luke warm.

The 2020 Riecine Chianti Classico (Gaiole) is a pretty violet color.  This is savory on the nose and the complete opposite of the 2019.  Berry and cranberry are married with oregano, dried tobacco and earth.  Rather austere on the palate. Tart Cranberry fruit is accented with iron, shale and dried herbs which are rather complex but off putting for my taste. I’m not excited about this at all and in fact, disappointed after the 2019. The fruit plumps up with some air to add crisp raspberry, but the overall style remains evident.  What a contrast in vintages.  85 points.  Find this wine & Support Tuscan Vines.

The next wine is also an interesting contrast; not in vintage character but in stylistic character.  While the Badia a Coltibuono above is the property’s iconic, traditional Classico, the next wine walks a more purposeful, modern line.

The 2019 Coltibuono Chianti Classico Roberto Stucchi Cultusboni is a medium ruby with violet highlights; it’s very attractive in the glass.  Savory nose with cured meat, dried herbs and berry notes is pretty.  Pleasing on the palate with fresh crushed berry and cranberry that is juicy and snappy. A simple Classico meant for primi piatti. With sausage stuffed peppers and roasted potatoes it was very nice.  Very nice value too!  86 points.  Find this wine.

Chianti Classico

~ At under $16, this is a pretty nice value that displays more complexity than you might expect given the tariff ~

I first tasted the next wine at the recent Gran Selezione event in Manhattan.  I was impressed then and I’m even more impressed now.

The 2018 Bibbiano Gran Selezione Capannino (Castellina in Chianti)  is 100% Sangiovese. Deep ruby in the glass and now Certified Organic.  Very pretty aromas of berry, dusty earth, sweet pipe tobacco and slight fennel are compelling.  On the palate this is juicy and fresh with crushed berry and red cherry framed by iron, mineral and sweet tobacco flavors.  This is really pretty and better now than it was at the GS tasting. Even improves with air.  An absolutely lovely Sangiovese.  94 points.   Find this wine & Support Tuscan Vines.

Chianti Classico

~ Again, 2018 may not be universally successful, but amazing wines were made. Producer over Vintage! ~

Finally, we dug deep (sort of) for the last entrant.  Why do I say sort of?  Because while most of the wines in this report are from 2018 or later, this wine clearly is not.  However, it’s currently on the market!  Yes, you read that right. And at the price, considering the bottle age, it’s a steal; especially considering that many of its current vintage contemporaries are priced similarly.

The 2015 Fonterutoli Chianti Classico (Castellina in Chianti)  is 90% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot, 3% Colorino and 2% Malvasia Nera.  Deep ruby with garnet highlights in the glass.  Decant, the nose is quite shy and it’s got a decent amount of sediment.   On the palate there’s black cherry, tobacco and hints of fresh fennel. Shows lots of freshness for its age.  A really wonderful Classico that is still available in the market.  91 points.  Find this wine & Support Tuscan Vines.

Chianti Classico

~ This is a tremendous value – especially given the complexity it’s starting to show ~

That’s a wrap on this installment but there’s a Part 5 coming.  But before that, we’ve got more 2017 Brunello coming, plus another Rustic Tuscany Chronicle.  Stay tuned!


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