Friday, April 15, 2011

The 2011 Chianti Classico Anteprima


This year the folks at the Chianti Classico Consorzio decided to do something different: Rather than hold two days of sit-down tastings with sommeliers, they held only one, and limited the second day of the vintage presentation to the hall with the booths where the winemakers were pouring their wines. In other words, they tried to get the journalists to interact with the winemakers.

As one might expect, the results were mixed; winemakers who enjoy considerable favor were mobbed, while those who are less esteemed or less known had a much more quiet time of it. And there was a segment of the journalists that complained loudly about not being able to taste "seriously" for both days.

I confess that I was initially in this camp, primarily because it is very convenient to sit and taste while someone else opens and pours the wines. However, wines are only half of the equation; to fully understand them one also has to know something about where they come from and the people who make them, and while this is easy for me -- since I live in Chianti I can just get into my car and drive to most anyone -- it's much more difficult for those who live far away.

Since we were limited to a single day of sit-down tasting, I decided to taste a number of wines from each of the vintages being presented to see what if any conclusions I might draw. After tasting Castello di Ama, which there is invariably a run on, I turned to the older vintages and worked forward. The wines are presented in the order tasted, in mid-Feburary 2011.


Castello di Ama Castello di Ama Vigneto Bellavista Chianti Classico DOCG 2007 Deep black cherry ruby with dusky black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is powerful and elegant, with rich sour cherry fruit supported by graphite shaving bitterness and dusky berry fruit acidity that brings to mind dappled shade. Great depth and harmony, and though it's quick to write it's a wine you can simply sniff in the glass. On the palate it's medium bodied, with rich cherry fruit supported by fairly brisk sour cherry acidity and graphite-laced bitterness, while the tannins are very smooth and have a slight cedar laced burr, flowing into a clean rather bitter finish. Very pleasant in a deft well polished international key, and a wine that has a great deal to offer now, especially with succulent grilled or roasted meats, though it will also age gracefully for 5-8 and perhaps 10 years. If you like the style you will love it, and even if you are more traditionally minded you will find that it gives you ample food for contemplation and thought.
93

Castello di Ama Vigneto La Casuccia Chianti Classico DOCG 2007 Deep pigeon blood ruby with black cherry rim and black reflections. The bouquet is intense, and quite elegant, with rich sour cherry fruit supported by black currant fruit and deft cedar that integrates without standing out, and also slight hints of underbrush and some graphite shavings too. On the palate it's young, and graceful, with rich cherry fruit supported by deft Sangiovese tannins that have a slight burr, and by dusky bitterness laced with dry underbrush that flows into a clean deft slightly bitter tannic finish. It's tighter than the Bellavista, and also a little further behind, and needs another year to come together, but when it does it will be both willowy and graceful, and an absolute delight to drink; by comparison with the Bellavista it is a little less round. Give it time, because it will reward you.
91

Chianti Classico 2004 Riserva: 2004 was a beautiful vintage, and in verticals almost invariably stands out. Here we have a mixed bag, because wineries that are presenting the older vintages are doing so because they still have some to sell. In some cases because they have given their wines time, and in others because they have simply not sold.

Fattoria Di Vegi Fattoria di Vegi - Silvio Chiostri Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2004 Deep black almandine with blacj reflections and almandine in the rim. The bouquet is clearly mature, with dried flowers and slight balsam-laced berry fruit that has a dusky cedar component as well. It brings to mind old lace on the back of a chair. On the palate it's a bit tired, with moderately intense cherry fruit that's more balsamic than I might have expected, and supported by tannins that have a dusty balsamic burr, while the acidity is moderately and rather warm, flowing into a decidedly tannic balsamic finish. I'd have liked richer fruit to support it.
1 star

Il Poggiolino Il Poggiolino La Riserva Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2004 Cherry ruby with black cherry rim. The bouquet is graceful, and rather understated, with cherry fruit supported by minerality and some spice; it's harmonious and pleasant to sniff in a graceful key. On the palate it's bright, with tart cherry fruit supported by lively sour cherry acidity and by tannins that have a greenish brambly burr and flow into a rather warm sour cherry finish. Pleasant, in a fairly traditional key, and will drink quite well with succulent grilled meats or hearty roasts, and will also age nicely for another 5-10 years.
2 stars

Chianti Classico 2005 Riserva 2005 was a difficult vintage in Chianti: It was cool, and rained every few days through much of the summer. As a result many wineries had problems with grape ripening, and produced vintage wines with moderate fruit and decidedly brambly tannins. The 2005 Riserva wines presented were a mixed bag; some display a graceful elegance in a decidedly cool vintage key, while others alas do not.

Castell'in Villa

Castell'in Villa Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2005 Black cherry with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with balsam-laced berry fruit and some dried flowers mingled with slight dusky cedar and moderate warmth. On the palate it's medium bodied, with bright berry fruit supported by lively sour cherry acidity and tannins that have a bright rather brambly burr and flow into a clean bright berry fruit finish. It's quick on its toes and moves easily, not an ounce of excess fat to it, and if you like the style you will enjoy it very much; it will work very well with grilled meats or roasts, and will also age nicely for another 5-8 years.
2 stars

Castello di Monastero Castello di Monastero Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2005 Fairly deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is mature, with mentholated cherry fruit supported by some wet leather and vegetal accents, and some warmth as well. On the palate it's medium bodied, with rather lax red berry fruit supported by tannins more than acidity, and the tannins are fairly dry, leading into a dry tannic finish. It's not a wine to drink by itself, though the tannic burr will make it work quite well with fattier meats that beg something to clear the palate between bites.
1 star

Castello di Monterinaldi Castello di Monterinaldi Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2005 Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is surprisingly rich for an 05, with jammy cherry fruit that has some peppery accents and a fair amount of spice. On the palate it's full in a decidedly languid key, with round rich cherry fruit supported by fairly bright jammy acidity and by tannins that are very smooth and flow into a clean plum-berry fruit finish. It's rather voluptuous, or would be if it were from a vintage less cool and less wet; it doesn't quite make it but does have a cheeky air about it, and will drink well with succulent frilled meats along the lines of leg of lamb, or with stews, including spicier sweeter stews such as goulash.
2 stars

Il Molino di Grace Il Molino di Grace Il Margone Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2005 Deep almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is mature, with fairly rich balsamic cherry fruit supported by some greenish cedar and vegetal accents as well, and a moderate amount of alcohol. On the palate it's full, with rich dusky cherry fruit supported by warm sour cherry acidity and by tannins that have a clean dusky balsamic burr, and flow into lasting balsamic warmth. Quite pleasant and a fine expression of a cooler wetter vintage, with rich acidity that complements and guides without overwhelming, and pleasant cool weather fruit; it will drink very well with stews or roasts, and will hold up for several more years, though I would be tempted to enjoy it now with foods.
2 stars

2006 was, on paper, a much better year than 2005, or at least it seemed that way at the time. However, since then the vintages have offered considerable opportunity for reflection; the 2006 wines from many of the central and northern Appellations, including those in Tuscany, the Langhe and the Valpolicella have been very slow to mature with decidedly strident tannins. This is true here too; a fellow taster says they are simply "not user friendly" and need time, and I think he may be right, because many do display potential. But simply want to be left alone at present.

My impressions of these specific wines? As was the case with 2004, they are a mixed bag, with some that are being presented now because the winemakers chose to keep them longer, and others because they still have them to sell.

Castello di Monsanto Castello di Monsanto Il Poggio Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2006 Deep black almandine with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is elegant and rather austere, with cherry fruit supported by dusky dried orange peel and some slightly balsamic cedar. On the palate it's bright, with rich savory cherry fruit supported by bright berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are warm and full, and have rich balsamic accents, and flow into a long rich savory berry fruit finish with tannic slightly balsamic underpinning. A beautiful wine of the sort one hates to pour out at a tasting, and that will contribute considerably to a steak or roast, and will also age beautifully for a decade or more. Most impressive.
92

Cantalici Cantalici Messer Ridolfo Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2006 Impenetrable pyrope with black cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with deft cherry fruit supported by some cedar and some greenish accents that gain in intensity with swishing. On the palate it's medium bodied with fairly intense cherry and forest berry fruit supported by tannins that are warm and balsamic, and flow into a warm balsam-laced berry fruit finish. It's a child of the vintage, and though it does display a certain grace comes across as trying too hard.
2 stars

Castello di Cacchiano Castello di Cacchiano Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2006 Black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with some berry fruit and moderate alcohol, but not much else. It's quiescent. On the palate it's medium bodied, with moderately intense cherry dt supported by dusky balsamic tannins and a fair amount of warmth, which flow into a warm rather balsamic fruit laced finish. It's not as deft nor as tight as I would have liked. Because of its warmth it will work well with succulent grilled meats and stews, but it's not a wine I would be tempted to drink far from the table.
1 star

Ruffino Ruffino Riserva Ducale - Oro Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2006 Deep black almandine with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with underbrush laced berry fruit supported by balsamic notes and some spice. On the palate it's ample and rather soft, with moderate berry fruit supported by tannins that are ample and rather blocky, flowing into a finish that has peppery spice and some hazelnuts underlain by graphite shavings, while the acidity isn't as marked as it might have been, with the result that the wine is a bit softer -- but not more settled -- than I might have liked.
1 star

Tenimenti Angelini Tenimenti Angelini - San Leonino - Monsenese Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2006 Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with cherry plum fruit supported by some sweetness and cherry plum fruit mingled with some blossoms and some cedar. On the palate it's moderately intense, with sour cherry fruit supported by warm berry fruit acidity and tannins that have a warm balsamic cast to them and flow into a warm tannic finish. I'd have liked more richness to the fruit, which feels like it had problems ripening; there's a lack of richness to it that forces the tannins to step in and though they do the effect is not quite the same.
1 star

Tenuta Villa Trasqua Tenuta Villa Trasqua Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2006 Deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with cherry fruit supported by cedar and some alcohol, though not that much, and by some berry fruit. On the palate it's bright, but not tremendously full, with cherry fruit supported by considerable warmth and by tannins that an angry warm burr and flow into a warm rather spicy finish with lasting bitter accents. The fruit doesn't have the ripe fullness I expect of rich vintages; and it is also a bit more sour, as if ripening was interrupted; this said, it is a pleasant wine in this key, and if you like the style, which is rather aggressive, it will drink well with succulent red meats that beg a sip to clear the palate between bites, for example leg of lamb. It's not a wine to sip by the glass, however, and if you prefer smoother more richly fruit driven interpretations of Chianti it won't work for you.
2 stars

Vignole Vignole Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2006 Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is closed; swishing brings up shellac and some minerality but not much in the way of fruit. On the palate it's medium bodied, with dusky moderately intense berry fruit supported by tannins that have strong graphite shaving bitterness to them and flow into a decidedly bitter finish. It's heavily oaked, and the oak carries it, especially in the structure, where the direction comes more from bitterness than acidity.
1 star

Villa del Cigliano Villa del Cigliano Villa Cigliano Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2006 Almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is brambly with greenish accents, spice, and some alcohol, but not much fruit. On the palate it's a bit richer than I expected, with dusky berry fruit supported by moderately intense acidity and by tannins that have warm balsamic accents and flow into a rather tart finish. It's more interesting on the palate than the nose, though I would have liked more richness to the fruit, which is slightly retiring.
2 stars

Cantalici Cantalici Chianti Classico DOCG 2006 Deep black almandine with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with leathery accents and some bitterness mingled with leaf tobacco and some spice. On the palate it's medium bodied, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by both berry fruit acidity that has a greenish cast to it, and by tannins that are warm and smooth, and flow into a clean greenish tannic finish with some underlying berry fruit. Pleasant in a fairly rich rather mature key, and tries less hard than the 2006 Riserva (see above), which makes it -- for me -- more interesting because it's working with what it has rather than trying to be more. In terms of accompaniments, grilled meats or roasts.
2 stars

Il Barlettaio Il Barlettaio Chianti Classico DOCG 2006 Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some shellac and slight alcohol but not much fruit. On the palate it's richer than I expected from the palate, with moderately intense sour cherry fruit supported by dusky, smoky tannins that flow into a clean rather spicy tannic finish with lasting warmth. The fruit has to a degree been dried out by the wood, which is carrying the show to a greater degree than it would in a different vintage. Because of the tannic dryness it is best suited to fattier foods that need a sip to clear the palate between bites.
1 star

2007 When it first came out the 2007 vintage seemed more nervous than the 2006, with higher acidities and more brambly accents. However, with time it has matured faster, with the tannins smoothing considerably more than those of the 2006 vintage have to date, while the lively acidities of (most of) the wines keep them on their toes and their fruit bright. Consequently as a general rule the wines of the 2007 vintage, both Riserve and Vini D'Annata, are more approachable and readier than those of the 2006 at present.

In the long term the situation may change, but for now given the choice between a 2007 Riserva and a 2006 Riserva to drink with a meal I would probably go with the 2007

We start with the 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva, and then the 2007 Chianti Classico D'Annata

Caparsa Caparsa Caparsino Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cherry fruit supported by some warm balsamic accents and deft cedar that gain depth from some berry fruit acidity. On the palate it's fairly rich, with cherry fruit supported by warmth and rather greenish cedar laced tannins that flow into a warm tannic finish with sour underpinning that goes on at length. It's not a wine that will drink well far from the table now --it needs a year for the tannins to think about folding in -- but it will drink well with succulent grilled or roasted meats, especially fattier cuts than need something to clear the palate between bites. If you prefer smoother rounder driven wines it won't work for you.
2 stars

Caparsa Doccio a Matteo Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly spicy, with greenish accents and some alcohol, but not much fruit, and it gives an impression of not wanting to be disturbed. On the palate it's ample and rather soft, with dusky cherry fruit supported by moderate acidity and by tannins that are warm and dusty, and flow into a warm berry fruit finish It's a touch drier than I'd have liked, but because of its dryness will work well with grilled meats. I would give it time, because I don't think it's quite ready yet, and a score now is premature.

Castello di Querceto Castello di Querceto Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Impenetrable pigeon blood ruby with some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with cherry fruit and deft underlying cedar mingled with minerality and spice. On the palate it's still coming together; the palate opens with fairly bright cherry fruit supported by moderately intense berry fruit acidity and tannins that are rather dry, and flow into a clean tannic finish. It needs another couple of years to come together, and is a bit drier than I had expected; the tannins are carrying to a degree for the fruit, and this means the wine will drink with more succulent meats, and isn't a wine I would drink by the glass.
2 stars

Castello di Verrazzano Castello di Verrazzano Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is brambly, with fairly rich berry fruit supported by lively acidity and some brambly greenish vegetal accents that are rather lively. On the palate it's bright, with rich cherry fruit supported by lively berry fruit acidity and tannins that have a greenish vegetal underlay and a marked youthful burr, and flow into a fairly bright sour cherry finish. Pleasant in a lithe key, with considerable grace, and will drink well with grilled meats or light stews now, and also age well for a decade or more.
2 stars

Concadoro Concadoro Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with cherry and plum fruit supported by some greenish accents and some lacquer that may be wood-fruit interaction. On the palate it's medium bodied, with rather dusky cherry plum fruit supported more by minerality than by acidity, and by ample smooth tannins that have slight hints of graphite bitterness to them, and flow into a rather bitter finish with some peppery brandied cherry plum accents. It needs a year for the nose to really come together, and is a wine that won't work as well for you if you prefer wines that are more aggressive and acidic.
1 star

Fattoria Nittardi Fattoria Nittardi Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Almost impenetrable pyrope with black cherry rim. The bouquet is powerful, and powerfully oaked, with intense cedar mingled with slight balsamic warmth and some fairly bright acidity that has a certain cheekiness to it. On the palate it's similar, with ripe fairly sweet plum cherry fruit supported by moderate acidity, and by tannins that are strongly cedar laced and flow into a long warm fairly sweet (almost brown sugary) plum finish with strong cedar underpinning. It's extremely ripe, and extremely oaked, and as such is something of a throwback ì, bringing to mind the push to ripeness and concentration that was more popular a few years ago. It's particular, and you should only consider it if you like the style. If you prefer tighter wines with more red fruit, or brighter acidities it won't work as well for you.
2 stars

Fontodi Fontodi Vigna del Sorbo Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Deep black cherry with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is muted at first swish, though more swishing brings up graphite shavings and some alcohol mingled with spice and bitterness, and slight fruit. It's still coming together. On the palate it's fairly rich, with warm sour cherry fruit supported by peppery spice and moderately intense red berry fruit; it again gives an impression of coming together but is a little further along, and is supported by tannins that display a lively peppery burr at least in part from oak that needs at least a year to fold in. I would give it the time, because it will be elegant in a fairly modern key, and to be frank it's not ready now.
2 stars

Castello di Querceto Castello di Querceto Il Picchio Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Lively black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, in a traditional key, with some wet stable straw mingled with savory accents and some greenish vegetal accents. On the palate it's lighter than I had expected, with sour plum cherry fruit supported by brambly acidity hat is also fairly bitter, and by tannins that are again bitter, with a fair volume of graphite shavings, and flow into a rather dusky finish. It's a rather mineral wine, without much brightness of fruit, and also has a brooding quality to it; if you like the style you will enjoy it, but you have to like the style. It will, with time, become ethereal and rather lacy, though I don't think it will be too long lived.
2 stars

Ormanni Ormanni Borro del Diavolo Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up greenish berry fruit supported by some red berry fruit and some cedar, and by moderate acidity that has some sour orange peel accents. On the palate it's fairly rich, with brandied cherries supported by considerable brandied berry fruit acidity and by tannins that have a warm peppery burr and flow into a dusky berry fruit finish with some plum sweetness and a peppery tannic underpinning. It's a bit dry, due to the tannins, and as a result will drink best with hearty red meats that are also fairly fatty, along the lines of leg of lamb or veal shanks.
1 star

Poggerino Poggerino Bugialla Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with a fair amount of alcohol and nose tingling acidity, but not much in the way of fruit. It's still developing. On the palate it's brighter than I expected, though with considerable alcohol, and moderately intense brandied cherries and plums supported by brambly bitterness more than acidity, and by tannins that are fairly splintery, with graphite shaving bitterness in abundance, and flow into an angry tannic finish. It's disjointed, with alcohol going in one direction and tannins in another, and I don't know what will happen in the future, but it's not happy now. It's too young to score.

Riecine Riecine Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Lively black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with cedar laced red berry fruit supported by brandied plum accents and some vegetal notes. Pleasant in a charged key. On the palate it's full, and rich, with powerful ripe plum cherry fruit supported by moderate acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that have a slight cedar underlay to them. It's quite ripe, and quite charged, and if you like the style you will enjoy it, though you should give the tannins a year to smooth over. If you prefer the more traditional, scrappier more acidic style of Chianti it won't work as well for you.
2 stars

San Felice San Felice il Grigio Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, and a bit unusual, with zucca gialla, the Italian winter squash that resembles butternut squash, and some alcohol too, together with nose tingling pepper spice. On the palate it's medium bodied, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by brighter than expected sour cherry acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fairly long slightly greenish tannic finish with lasting warmth. It's still developing, especially on the nose, but has a degree of zestiness to it that I rather enjoyed, and it will drink well with grilled red meats or hearty stews. I would give it a year or two, and expect it to age well for up to a decade.
2 stars

Villa di Geggiano Villa di Geggiano Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is powerful, with rich slightly brandied cherry plum fruit supported by alcohol and an opulent sweetness that is in part the alcohol; it's quite harmonious and pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's ample, with rich sour cherry fruit supported by bright berry fruit acidity and by tannins that have a deft peppery burr and glow into a clean bright sour cherry finish. Graceful, and quite elegant in a traditional key; if you like the style you will enjoy it very much, and even if you generally prefer wines that are rounder and lusher you will find things to ponder here. Expect it to age well for 8-10 years.
90

Castello di Radda Castello di Radda Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Black almandine that's paler than some, with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with greenish vegetal accents and a fair amount of spice, and as it opens some red berry fruit and some musty aromas of wet paper. It's still coming together, but not as clean as it might be. On the palate it's fairly bright, with lively cherry fruit supported by sour berry fruit acidity and moderately intense tannins that are warm and spicy, and flow into a warm spicy sour cherry finish. It's disjointed now and I would give the nose a year to develop and come together, before drinking it with succulent roasted or grilled meats. If the nose cleans up it will be nice, but it needs time.
2 stars

Castello di Volpaia Castello di Volpaia Coltassala Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is unusual, with an odd softness and spicy notes mingled with hints of very ripe berry fruit, blackberry and also some cedar. On the palate it's ample and soft, with moderately intense plum cherry fruit supported by moderate acidity and by tannins that are warm and rather splintery, and flow into a rather splintery finish. It's quite ripe, but the fruit isn't really up to matching the tannic structure, which overshadows it, especially in the finish. In its defense it is woefully young, and the tannins will fold in some with time, but I wonder if they will ever fold in enough.
1 star

Fattoria di Vegi Fattoria di Vegi - Francesco Chiostri Chianti Classico DOCG 2007 Black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim paling to orange. The bouquet is moderately intense, with red berry fruit supported by some leather and spice, but it's still coming together. On the palate it's pleasant, with rich slightly sour cherry fruit supported by deft sour cherry acidity and smooth sweet tannins that do have a slight Sangiovese burr, and flow into a clean fresh sour cherry finish. Quite pleasant in a relatively unaggressive traditional style, and will drink very well with grilled or roasted meats, including fattier cuts such as leg of lamb, or grilled lamb chops. If you like the more traditional style you will enjoy it.
2 stars

Castello di Cacchiano Castello di Cacchiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2007 Deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is powerful, with rather pungent plum cherry fruit supported by greenish notes and hints of oatmeal sweetness, which are a bit unusual in a red but work well, and clean spice. Deft. On the palate it's full, with rich cherry plum fruit supported by bright slightly vegetal acidity and tannins that have a warm peppery spicy burr, and flow into a warm spicy berry fruit finish with some jammy overtones. It's quite fresh, and very much alive, but at present the peppery notes of the tannins overshadow the fruit, and because of them it will work better with foods -- succulent red meats -- than by the glass. With time it will smooth, gaining in elegance, though I suspect the tannins will always have a peppery cast to them.
2 stars

Rocca di Montegrossi Rocca di Montegrossi Vigneto San Marcellino Chianti Classico DOCG 2007 Lively black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is quite young, with cherry fruit supported by deft cedar, but it needs another year to really emerge from its shell. On the palate it's quite elegant but again young, with rich cherry fruit supported by mineral acidity with some berry fruit accents and by tannins that are at present rather splintery, especially in the finish, which comes across as thinner than it will be when they have begun to fold in, in a year's time or perhaps a little more. In short, a work in progress, and though one could drink it now with a steak or roast, it will reward those who give it 3-5 years by improving considerably. A wine worth looking out for the future.
2 stars now.

Fattoria Ispoli

Fattoria Ispoli Chianti Classico DOCG 2007 Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with bright cherry plum fruit supported by sea salt, delicate cedar, and fairly intense alcohol and underlying spice. On the palate it's medium bodied, and quite smooth, with plum cherry fruit supported by balsamic warmth and tannins that have a smooth soft cedar-laced burr and flow into a clean balsamic finish with bitter underpinning. It's a bit disjointed, and this is youth; and though I would have liked a little more acidity, which would confer more verve, it is pleasant and will age nicely for at least 5 years. Give it a year to get its bearings,
2 stars

Fietri Fietri Chianti Classico DOCG 2007 Lively black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is powerful, and quite fresh, surprisingly so for a Riserva, with jammy prune and red berry fruit supported by candied accents and hints of cola; one has an impression of extreme ripeness. The palate reflects the nose; it has rich very ripe plum cherry fruit supported by moderate acidity that's brighter than I expected, and by tannins that have a peppery burr and flow into a ripe berry fruit finish with peppery underpinning. If you like the style you will enjoy it, but you have to like big ripe, not overly soft wines. If you prefer a fruit cast more towards cherry it won't work as well for you.
1 star

Il Molino di Grace Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico DOCG 2007 Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine in the rim. The bouquet is quite young, with balsamic berry fruit supported by delicate sour berry fruit acidity and as it opens greenish spice that's fairly pungent. On the palate it's fairly bright, with sour cherry fruit supported by lively cherry acidity and tannins that are warm and savory, and have a slight burr. There's something sassy to it, and it will drink nicely with succulent red meats when it has its bearings, in about a year's time. It grew upon me.
2 stars

Felsina Felsina Rancia Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is quite ripe, with rich plum-cherry fruit supported by chalky notes and a sweetness that brings blueberry yogurt to mind, and by spice and a fair amount of alcohol. On the palate it's not as ripe as the nose suggested; it has moderately sour cherry fruit supported by greenish berry fruit acidity with some vegetal accents, and is supported by tannins that still display a cedar veneer and flow into a clean bright sour cherry finish. The nose needs time and the palate too; it's very much in mid stride, and if you give it a year or two I think it could rather richly reward you. At present it's really not ready yet.

La Porta di Vertine La Porta di Vertine Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Deep black almandine with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense and young, with cherry plum fruit supported by a fair amount of alcohol and some but not too much peppery spice. On the palate it's ample and fairly ripe, with prune cherry fruit supported by moderate slightly vegetal prune minerality, and by tannins that have a warm burr and flow into a decidedly tannic finish. It needs another year for the tannins to fold in, and then will drink well with succulent roasts, including, because of its fruit cast -- the tannins will smooth -- drier meats.
2 stars

Torraccia di Presura Torraccia di Presura Il Tarocco Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. Quite dark. The bouquet is moderately intense, with a fair amount of cedar mingled with some graphite shavings and some bitterness. On the palate it's moderately intense, with moderate minerality more than fruit supported by tannic bitterness that has some cedary overtones. There's not as much fruit as I had hoped for.
1 star

Villa Calcinaia Villa Calcinaia Vigna Bastignano Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 Lively almandine ruby that's lighter than many, with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is bright, with sour cherry fruit supported by chalky accents and some scalded milk which is likely due to the yeasts. On the palate it's bright, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by sour cherry acidity that again has slightly milky accents, and is supported by tannins that are warm and have a slight burr, and flow into a warm sour cherry fruit finish. If you like the style you will enjoy it, but you have to like fairly aggressive wines.
2 stars

2008 I said last year that the 2008 vintage was quite variable, with some particularly graceful wines from areas at higher elevations, while those in more low-lying areas suffered the summer heat to a greater degree. This impression holds for the wines I tasted this year too.

Castello di Volpaia Castello di Volpaia Volpaia Chianti Classico DOCG 2008 Lively black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is bright, with fairly rich greenish berry fruit supported by clean bright berry fruit and also fairly intense minerality. On the palate it's light, and fresh, and fairly rich with lively sour cherry fruit supported by smooth berry fruit acidity and by smooth slightly greenish tannins that flow into a clean bright berry fruit finish that gains depth from deft greenish overtones. Quite pleasant, in a sunny sort of way, and will drink nicely with hearty pasta dishes or lighter grilled meats.
2 stars

Castello di Vicchiomaggio Castello di Vicchiomaggio Agostino Petri Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2008 Lively black cherry ruby with almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cherry fruit supported by brambles and a fair amount of alcohol, and by sour cherry fruit that is rather muted at the outset but gradually emerges. On the palate it's bright, with lively cherry fruit supported by deft sour cherry acidity and tannins that have a lively greenish burr and flow into a bright sour cherry finish. Quite pleasant in a rather scrappy key, and will drink nicely with grilled meats or roasts, and also has the acidity necessary fro such delights as fried lamb chops.
2 stars

Villa di Geggiano Villa di Geggiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2008 Lively cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with sour cherry fruit supported by some vegetal accents and deft spice; it's still coming together but promises quite nicely. On the palate it's bright, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by bright berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a bright berry fruit finish. Classic old style good Chianti, a light fruity wine that will complement what it's served with, and is blessed with quite enough acidity to make it light on its toes, but not so much as to make is squeal. If you like the style you will very much enjoy it.
2 stars

Barone Ricasoli Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG 2008 Deep black cherry ruby with violet rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with cherry fruit supported by some cedar and moderate brambly accents and some graphite shavings. On the palate it's ample and smooth, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by bright but not overly so berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean sour cherry finish. Pleasant, in a very approachable key, and though it's not as complex as some Chianti Classico it will drink well with a variety of foods, and not steal the limelight, which is what people very often want. Expect the bottle to go quickly.
2 stars

Mannucci Droandi Mannucci Droandi Ceppeto Chianti Classico DOCG 2008 Impenetrable pyrope with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is quite ripe, with plum cherry fruit supported by jammy sweetness and some greenish heathery notes. It gives an impression of lushness. On the palate it's ample and soft, with rich plum cherry fruit supported by moderate acidity and tannins that are smooth and soft, and flow into a fairly soft finish. It's rather opulent, and if you enjoy the style you will enjoy it. But you have to like the style.
1 star

Ormanni Ormanni Chianti Classico DOCG 2008 Elegant almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is muted at first swish, though with more swishing sour cherry fruit supported by some bright greenish accents emerges. Quite young, but interesting to sniff and harmonious. On the palate it's medium bodied, with rich slightly sour cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fresh sour cherry finish with a pleasant tannic underpinning. It's quite pleasant in a deft rather lithe key, and brings to mind a dancer who moves lightly and easily on her feet. It will be nice with rich pasta dishes, legume based dishes such as fagioli all'uccelleto, and will also drink well with simple grilled meats. Worth seeking out.
88-90


Poggerino Poggerino Chianti Classico DOCG 2008 Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is moderately intense, with dusty cherry fruit supported by some bitter accents and slight savory notes, with some graphite shavings too. On the palate it's fairly light, with soft red berry fruit supported by moderate acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fairly bright sour cherry finish. It's graceful in a lighter fairly direct key, and will drink nicely with meaty pasta sauces or risotti, simple grilled meats, and light stews. A classic every day wine that people will set out and drink.
2 stars

Riecine Riecine Chianti Classico DOCG 2008 Lively black cherry ruby with brilliant black reflections and rim paling to garnet. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up sour cherry fruit supported by some jammy accents and by brambly spice, with hints of scalded milk as well. On the palate it's medium bodied and quite ripe, with languid ripe almost jammy cherry fruit supported by moderate acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a smooth fairly soft finish. Pleasant, in a smoother softer key, and it's a wine you'll like if you like more opulent fruit driven wines. If you prefer brasher more aggressive old-style Chianti, it won't work as well for you.
2 stars

San Felice San Felice Chianti Classico DOCG 2008 Lively black almandine ruby with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is powerful and a bit rustic, with wet stable straw mingled with balsamic accents and some Italian winter squash; there's also a fair amount of acidity, and it's quite traditional in feel. On the palate it's medium bodied, with bright sour cherry fruit supported by lively greenish berry fruit acidity and by tannins that have a slightly bitter cast and are fairly smooth, flowing into a clean fresh sour cherry finish with tannic underpinning. If you like the style, which is quite traditional, you will enjoy it very much. If you instead prefer smoother rounder wines with riper fruit it simply won't work for you. In short, a wine for some but not for all. In any case, it will be quite versatile, working with meat based pasta dishes, legume based soups and dishes, and simple grilled meats. It will also age nicely for 3-5 years.
2 stars

Tenuta di Lilliano Tenuta di Lilliano Chianti Classico DOCG 2008 Lively cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is bright, with greenish accents and sour berry fruit supported by berry fruit acidity and some spice; it's quite young. On the palate it's bright, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity that gives nice direction, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fairly bright berry fruit finish with greenish tannic underpinning. It's pleasant in a traditional key, but not so far into the traditional spectrum (nothing balsamic about it) that those who are of a more modern persuasion won't enjoy it, and it's also quite versatile, and will work well with a variety of dishes, from meat based pasta sauces and other red sauces through risotti and simple grilled meats, while there is enough acidity that it will also be a nice bet with fried meats and vegetables, and also be nice at a cookout. In short, versatile.
2 stars

Castello di Radda Castello di Radda Chianti Classico DOCG 2008 Lively black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is muted at first swish, though more swishing brings up cherry fruit with some red berry fruit accents and slight greenish notes supported by slight hints of shellac that likely derive from wood; it's still very young and obviously coming together. On the palate it's lively, with bright sour cherry fruit supported by bright berry fruit acidity and by tannins that have a warm greenish burr and flow into a clean fairly rich berry fruit finish with spicy tannic underpinning. The palate is almost as young as the nose, but does display a certain grace, and if you like the style, which is traditional, with scrappy tomboyish acidity, you will enjoy it. Do give it at least a year however to get its bearings and come together, because it (and you) will profit form more time.
2 stars

1 comment:

Jonas Landau said...

As a huge Chianti fan, it was great to read your tasting notes. For some reason I think that these wines are still very under-appreciated in the American marketplace. But for me, the best examples are quite elegant and complex and pair well with many different kinds of food.