Last week, I attended a tasting called The Chianti Connection sponsored by the Chianti Classico Consortium where I was able to taste dozens (out of hundreds) of Chianti wines. After the event I felt more connected to Chianti Classico than ever before, which was perfect, since if all goes as planned I will be in Tuscany in October and look forward to drinking many bottles of Chianti Classico.
The Symbol of the Chianti Classico Consortium
There were 235 Chianti Classico–Annata, Riserva and Gran Selezione from 2019 back to 2012, 7 Vin Santo Chianti Classico and even Olio DOP Chianti Classico. It was a two-day event but I could only attend on one. I had my place for two hours and I would pick four wines at a time from the list and they would be poured into my glass. It was all done via smartphone, except the pouring. Here are my thoughts on a few of those I tasted.
Chianti Classico: The Territory
The Quality Pyramid-producers must declare in advance if it is Chianti Classico Annata, Riserva or Gran Selezione
Chianti Classico must be made from 80% and 100% Sangiovese and up to 20% other permitted red grapes both indigenous and international.
Chianti Classico 2019 Lilliano made from 90% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. After the quality-selected clusters are destemmed and pressed, the must is fermented and macerated in stainless steel for 18-20 days at a controlled temperature with programmed punch-downs and daily pumpovers. Maceration fermentation takes place in concrete and small stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature for 18-20 days depending on the vintage. The wine ages for about 12 to 14 months in large casks of French oak and partly in concrete. After maturation, the final blend is assembled, bottled and aged in glass for a minimum of 3 months. This is a wine with hints of red fruit, cherry, violets and a touch of cassis. I recently rediscovered Lilliano when I was in Rome last time and was reminded how good it can be.
Chianti Classico 2019 Bibbiano made from 100% Sangiovese The production area is Bibbiano and Castellina in Chianti from all the vineyards of the estate (25 hectares) from both the southwest and northeast slopes. The soil is calcareous-clay mixed with (limestone based) alberese rock. This wine represents the territorial characteristics of the estate since it is produced from Sangiovese grapes grown on both sides of the estate with the addition of a small amount of Colorino. Havesting of the Sangiovese began on September 20th and Colorino a few days later. The vinification takes place in cement vats and fermentation on the skins lasts for 18 days. There is a further stage of maturation while the wine is still in the cement vats, followed by a 3 months refining period in the bottle. This is a very well balanced wine with fruity hints of cherry and prune and a touch of violets.
Chianti Classico 2019 Volpaia Made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot vines planted 1972-2004. Light soil consisting of sandstone except for the Castellino and Santa Maria vineyards, which have clay and Montanino which is sandstone and clay. Vineyards are on slopes 397 /570 meters and the exposure is southern. There are 2.564 to 5,683 wines/hectares and the training system is guyot. The wine is aged in Slavonian casks for 12 months. The wine has hints of red berries, cherry, mint and a touch of licorice and a note of violets. Chianti Classico can age I had the 2004 Volpaia at a friend’s house just after the tasting and it was in perfect condition and not yet at its peak.
Chianti Classico 2019 “Brolio” Ricasoli made from Sangiovese. The vineyards are in Gaiole in Chianti, which are at 280 t0 480 meters. Vinified in stainless steel with 16 days of skin contact and 9 months in large barrels and barriques. The wine has fruity black cherry aromas and flavors with hints of spice and violets.
Chianti Classico 2019 Banfi made from mostly Sangiovese and small amounts of Canaiolo Nero and Cabernet Sauvignon. The soil is calcareous and well structured. Fermentation takes place with traditional skin contact of 8 to 10 days. The wine is aged for a short time in large casks of French oak. Bottling takes place the summer after the harvest. The wine has hints of cherries, plums and violets with a note of leather.
Chianti Classico 2019 “Storia di Famiglia” Cecchi Made from 90 % Sangiovese, 5 % Colorino and 5% Canaiolo The vineyards are at 259 meters and the soil is middle dough ,alkaline and stones. There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. There is traditional red wine fermentation at a controlled temperature. Fermentation and maceration for 18 days. The wine is aged in bottle for s minimum of 2 months This is a wine with hints of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries a touch of spice and a hint of pine. Always one of my favorites.
Chianti Classico 2019 Riecine made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is limestone and clay and the vineyard is at 450/500 meters and is certified organic by ICEA. The vines are 25 years old. Harvest is by hand in September and October with a selection of graprs and in the cellar. The grapes are separated by plot, crushed and fermented in open concrete Nomboly tanks. Maceration is for 10 days and pressed off. Aging is in old tonneaux and big Grenier casks. The wine was bottled in January 2021. This is a fruit-driven, elegant, medium bodied wine with hints of red fruit, roses, eucalyptus and a touch of violet.
Monsanto Chianti Classico “Il Poggio” 2016 made from 95% Sangiovese and 5% Colorino and Canaiolo. The training system is guyot and spurred cordon. The wine is vinified in temperature controlled conical steel vats. Delestage and pumping over for about 20 to 22 days. The wine is aged in 500 liter oak barrels, partly new and partly second hand for 18 to 20 months. The wine remains in the bottle for 2 years before release. The wine has hints of blackberries and blueberries with a hint of violets. Monsanto is located in the western-central area of the Chianti Classico region in the municipality of Barberino Tavarnelle. I have a long history with Monsanto going back almost 40 years and the wonderful 1977 vintage.
Chianti Classico Badia a Colibuono 2018 90% Sangiovese 10% Colorino and 5% Ciliegiolo. The vineyards are at 250/330 meters and the soil in clay loam and limestone rock. The training system is guyot and the wines are 6 to 30 years old. There are 5,000 to 7,300 vines per hectare. Indigenous yeast from grapes with a starter. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. There is a light gelatin fining and a membrane filtration. The wine is aged in 2,000 to 2,500 liter French and Austrian oak casks for about 12 months. Then aged in bottle for about 3 months before release. The winery has been organic since 1995. The wine has hints strawberry and raspberry with good acidity, a note of violet and a touch of sunshine on the Tuscan pines. I have been drinking this Chianti Classico for many years.
Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 Castello di Meleto made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is at 360 to 450 meters with a south, southeast and southwest exposure and the soil is gravelly, rich in galestro and alberese. There are 3,500/ 5,000 vines per hectare and the vines were planted in 1970-2000. The training system is spurred cordon, guyot and alberello (bush). The grapes are harvested by hand and by machine and then destemmed and lightly pressed. Maceration is on the skins for 15 to 20 days. Spontaneous alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks, without adding exogenous yeast, for 7-10 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in cement vats. The wine is aged in 54HL Slavonian oak barrels (botti) for 12 months. The wine is aged in the bottle for 6 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, blueberry and a hint of pine. It is a very pleasant wine that is very food friendly.
Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC 2001 Castello di Meleto 90% Trebbiano, 5% Sangiovese and 5% Malvasia. The vineyard has western exposure and is at 400 meters. The soil is limestone mixed with sandstone. Training system is guyot, there are 3,000 vines per hectare. The vines were planted in 1972 -1974. Manual harvest and the grapes are naturally dried in well-ventilated rooms followed by fermentation and aging is barrels of different woods and sizes, which are sealed and kept in rooms with shifting temperatures. Aging is for 4 to 5 years in mixed wooden casks called caratelli of 60, 100 and 120 liters. The caratelli are filled up to 70%. This is a full dessert wine has hints of dried fruit, honey and apricot with a touch of vanilla.
There was an incredible amount of Chianti Classico to taste but I could only sample a fraction of them. Chianti Classico has always been one of my favorite wines and I am happy to report that I liked all the wines I tasted.