Unlike many of the Chianti Classico estates whose names include either a saint or a church, Pieve di Campoli really does have a religious connection: It's owned by the Dioceses of Florence, and operated by the Istituto Diocesano per il Sostentamento del Clero di Firenze, the branch of the Diocese charged with gathering funds to support the Clergy.
Then it's old, one might think, but the answer is no: Though the Diocese has owned vineyards for a very long time, they only decided to bottle and market the wine they were making in 1996, and the first few years were what one might call formative -- deciding what to plant, harvesting what ripened in the vineyards already in production, and deciding how to vinify the grapes in the cellars.
By now things are beginning to fall into place; they have about 100 hectares of vineyards, some located in the Comune of Barberino Val D'Elsa, not far from Isole e Olena (Paolo De Marchi has offered his advice), and some in the Comune di San Casciano, not far from Antinori.
While working in the vineyards, they also needed more modern cellars, and built them at the Pieve Di Campoli, which is located in an extraordinarily peaceful spot on the road from San Cascianp towards Empoli.
The first timid vintage, 1996, was made with 100% Sangiovese selected in their oldest vineyards.
Pieve di Campoli Chianti Classico Riserva 1996
Pale slightly cloudy garnet ruby with almandine rim. The bouquet is warm, with deft red berry fruit supported by warm sour raspberry acidity and leaf tobacco mingled with some green leather. Mature, and fairly elegant, though not quite as tight as some years. Classic Sangiovese of a kind one doesn't encounter so often any more, in any case. On the palate it's pleasant, with rich slightly sour red berry fruit that gains direction from slightly balsamic warm acidity, and is supported by clean velvety tannins that flow into a slightly bitter warm tannic finish. Pleasant, and quite deft, in a very traditional key; it will add considerable grace to a meal built around succulent grilled meats.
Pieve di Campoli Chianti Classico Riserva 1997
Deft slightly cloudy garnet ruby with almandine rim fading to orange. The bouquet is delicate, with pleasing slightly mentholated spice mingling with green leather, hints of underbrush, sea salt, and underlying dried flowers. On the palate it's full, with fairly powerful red berry fruit that's moderately sour, and is supported by ample slightly cedary tannins that flow into a fairly long bitter finish. It's a bit more settled than the 96, and also a bit heavier, though it does open nicely in the glass, gaining in elegance as it airs; it will drink well with succulent red meats, and will age nicely for another 5 years at least.
Pieve di Campoli Chianti Classico Riserva 1998
Deep almandine with brownish rim. The bouquet is tired, by comparison with the 96, with considerable balsam laced with sea salt and bitterness, mingled with some underlying animal tang. It could be the bottle, but they are almost out of them, so this is the way it is. On the palate it's similar, with considerable balsam and some sea salt, laced with hints of sweetness as well. It's falling apart, and this can happen.
Beginning in 1999 they added 5% Merlot to the blend, a decision that perhaps makes sense from a commercial standpoint, as the wines are more approachable, but that left me feeling slightly cheated.
Pieve di Campoli Chianti Classico Riserva 1999
Deep almandine ruby with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is deft, with fairly rich red berry fruit, a mix of cherries with some black currant fruit supported by some berry fruit acidity and pleasing cedary spice. Quite nice. On the palate it's considerably softer than the earlier vintages, with fairly rich red berry fruit laced with some black currants, and supported by tannins that are considerably smoother than those of the older vintages -- what a difference 5% can make! The finish is moderately long and clean, with fairly rich slightly bitter red berry fruit. Pleasant, though it is a distinct change of pace with respect to the earlier vintages, in a more international direction. If you like the international style it is quite good, and even if you prefer tradition you will find things to like, but there is that shift; due to its greater softness it will work better with drier red meats than the older wines.
Pieve di Campoli Chianti Classico Riserva 2000
Fairly deep almandine ruby with almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with bright cherry and forest berry fruit supported by berry fruit jam that gains depth from pleasing slightly nutmeg-laced spice, and from slight acidity that also provides direction. On the palate it's pleasant, and much less overripe than many 2000 Chianti Classicos, with fairly rich red berry fruit supported by moderately intense acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that lay a bitter trail over the tongue, and flow into a clean bitter finish. Quite elegant, and will drink well with drier red meats.
Pieve di Campoli Chianti Classico Riserva 2001
Deft almandine ruby with some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with red berry fruit supported by somewhat more oak than was apparent in the earlier vintages, and presents as cedar with slight greenish notes, and some underlying graphite shaving bitterness. On the palate it's quite elegant, with rich slightly bitter cherry fruit supported by satiny tannins that again have bitter undercurrents, and flow into a long slightly bitter finish with fruit that gradually fades. Quite elegant, in a rich, powerful, fairly intenrational key, and will drink very well with red meats. In absolute terms it is perhaps the finest wine of the flight, but it doesn't have the character or the complexity of the 96, at least not yet, and I don't think it ever will even though it will improve with time. The Merlot softens its character.
Pieve di Campoli Chianti Classico Riserva 2003
Deep ruby with cherry ruby rim. The bouquet is rich, with powerful jammy red berry fruit supported by some mentholated overtones and by deft cedar; it's recently bottled and promises quite well because it has a ways to go before it gets its bearings. On the palate it's full, and soft -- the effect of the vintage -- with rich jammy berry fruit that's supported by moderate acidity -- quite moderate, but enough to give direction now -- and by ample soft tannins that flow into a bitter cedar-laced finish. It's a child of the vintage, and will never be a great wine, but within the context of the vintage it is quite successful, and will drink well with drier meats. I would drink it in the next 2-3 years.
Pieve di Campoli Chianti Classico Riserva 2004
Barrel sample. Lively pyrope ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is muted; not much fruit emerges, but this can happen with a barrel sample. On the palate it's full, with powerful cherry fruit supported by tannins that are frankly angular, and have cedar overtones. Promising, but still in swaddling clothes.
Bottom Line: Very nice Chianti Classico that has a lot to say and will contribute nicely to the meal it's served with. A wine to keep in mind.
Almost Wordless Wednesday: Between Here And There - I took this shot during the Pelleginaggio Artusiano in the spring of 2011. The mirror is somewhere between Castrocaro Terme and Portico di Romagna (on the ...
4 years ago