Chiara Condello

~ Chiara Condello is a winemaker to watch ~

Chiara Condello is young, energetic and incredibly skilled.  She has all the knowledge that a Tuscan winemaker needs to tame Sangiovese.  Except for one thing;  she isn’t Tuscan!

Chiara’s vineyards and winery are located in the town of Predappio in Emilia-Romagna. She owns seven hectares of land, 4.8 of which are planted to Sangiovese and the rest are split between woods and olive trees.  Chiara learned her trade by working with her family, but she soon realized she had wings to spread.

The family has made wine in Predappio for decades under their own label;  but in 2015 Chiara set out on her own. It was important to her to work in her own way, with her own vineyards and cellar.  Her first vintage was 2015, and in that short time she’s combined her bright-eyed enthusiasm with a clear vision of what her Sangiovese should be.  She is succeeding beyond measure.

Chiara Condello

~ Chiara works mainly with open top fermenters and neutral oak ~

“In my wines I seek the authentic expression of my land, its history, its soul. I imagine a bright pure wine, that is born from the unrepeatable conditions of the vintage and of its terroir of origin.”

The above quote, in fact it’s her philosophy, says it all.  Chiara’s wines speak to unadulterated Sangiovese.  Now, I have had “said unadulterated wines” before.  From appellations in Tuscany and elsewhere. Often times I’m left shaking my head.  “Is this wine or dirt?”   I’m all for pure, but it’s still got to taste good.  Chiara may be re-writing the definition of pure.

Chiara Condello

~ Chiara’s Estate wine bears nothing but her name ~

Chiara produces only two wines; one that bears only her name and Le Lucciole, a Riserva.  Both wines are 100% Sangiovese.

The 2021 Chiara Condello is a drop dead gorgeous wine.   In the glass, the wine is a deep ruby color with almost no lightening toward the edge of the bowl.  2021 was a wonderful vintage, although the spells of hot dry weather limited quantity and made some wines overdone.  Not here.

From the glass, the wine screams freshness.  To me, it’s as if Dolcetto and Chianti Classico had a baby.  Ripe aromas of black plum, black cherry, freshly cut blue flowers and hints of fresh herb are potent and attractive.  On the palate, the wine is juicy, fresh and lively.  Pure, clean Sangiovese.  Ripe cherry and wild berry mix with faint hints of spices and new leather.  This is entry level Sangiovese at its finest. But in this case, the “entry level” is the bulk of Chiara’s production.  And it bears her name.  It’s a standard for her and it’s an exceptional standard bearer.   92 points.  Great value around $21.  Find this wine.

Chiara Condello

~ No one can accuse Chiara of not getting her hands involved with her work. ~

Chiara’s Riserva comes from a tiny plot on her property – only 3/4 of a hectare.   Produced in only optimal vintages, the Riserva is limted to a few thousand bottles per year.  Each vintage bears a unique label designed by an artist that Chiara collaborates with.  Because?

The label of Le Lucciole is designed by artist Francesca Ballarini with whom I work to tell each year a different story, as are different and unique all the vintages.”

The 2020 Le Lucciole Riserva is a deep garnet red in the glass.  Like its sibling, the aromas are penetratingly fresh.  Floral notes take center stage backed by an orchestral urging of blackberry and raspberry notes.  Unlike the estate wine, this Sangiovese spends two years maturing in large cask and as a result, there are slight hints of cake spices and sandalwood too.

On the palate, this is fresh and juicy.  Dark cherry flavors dominate, with hints of toasted tobacco and powdery baking spices.  There is just slightly more body here – but no additional complexity.  Long and juicy in the mouth, this finishes clean and mouth watering.  While I really enjoyed the Riserva it seems a bit of a let down given the price.  The limited production drives that to a degree and while I’d happily drink it, the QPR isn’t as compelling.  It will be interesting to see how this develops with some cellar time. 91 points.  About $70.  Find this wine.

Chiara Condello

~ The Riserva is from strict selection and aged longer in cask before release ~

Given the recent string of estates in Tuscany being sold or watching iconic winemakers who have passed away, I am encouraged by the entry of young winemakers like Chiara.  She is certainly on the radar at this point and I am very intrigued to see where she goes from here.

Will you try these wines?  Let me know what you think in the comments.


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