I had the pleasure of attending the Consorzio Vino Chianti ‘Chianti Lovers’ Tasting held at the Refectory Ballroom at The High Line Hotel in Manhattan on April 27, 2015. Established in 1927, the Consortium protects over 3600 producers, working more than 15,500 hectares of vineyards, producing in excess of 800,000 hectoliters of Chianti. From selection of grapes to vinification, from testing of the chemical and physical properties to bottling, the Consortium ensures that the wines meet DOC and DOCG standards. The Consortium is committed to preserving and advancing the culture and history of Chianti, along with expressing the high quality the wine has achieved. Chianti DOCG is produced in the provinces of Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena in Tuscany, central Italy.
Over 30 winemakers and estate owners gathered to present their wines, many of which are in need of US importers and distributors [which is why price information is not available]. Each winemaker or estate owner I spoke with was enthusiastic to tell me the story of his or her wines, sharing details such as varietal blending methods and sustainable, environmentally-friendly vineyard and winery practices, along with vintage particularities. With a region as large as Chianti, each producer can have a vastly different vintage from his near neighbor. From vibrant and fresh to subtle and elegant, a vast array of the styles and vintages of Chianti were presented.
*All wines are “designed to be paired with food”; many of the winemakers would send me off to the cheese and cracker table immediately after my first sip in order for me to have a better perception of the flavours and personalities their wines express.
The Castelvecchio farm is a family estate located in San Casciano Val di Pesa in the Florentine hills, and is headed by Filippo Rocchi along with his sister Stefania Rocchi. The estate was founded in 1962 by Filippo’s grandfather Renzo Rocchi and consists of 73 hectares, 30 of which are vineyards and 15 are olive groves. Filippo is passionate about caring for the vines, with a philosophy to express “the character and originality” of each grape and wine. The wines are named after the vineyards from which the grapes were grown. Castelvecchio is one of the very few estates at the tasting that has a US importer. Although only on the shelves in a few states at the moment, keep your eye out or their wines, as they certainly will expand. With the exception of the Santa Caterina 2013, the wines presented were the same as last year, click here for my impressions, at that time. I was excited to revisit Il Castelvecchio 2011, one of my favourite wines from the last event, to see how it has transformed with another year under its belt.
‘Santa Caterina’ Chianti DOCG 2013
A lovely, light Chianti free of oak, it was fermented in stainless steel and aged in cement. Clean fruit and floral notes are backed by a food friendly acidity and excellent dry finish. [$12 average price]
‘Il Castelvecchio’ Chianti Colli Fiorentini DOCG 2011
Aged one year in French barrels, this is a blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot which brings a certain sense of velvety softness to each sip. Sweet fruit backed by licorice and leather notes, dried floral elements on the lovely dry finish. Consistently the most popular label of the estate. [$15 average price]
The Tamburini estate is headed by 5th generation winemaker Emanuela Tamburini. The estate consists of 50 hectares, 30 of which are vineyards in Chianti and Montalcino, along with olives groves and forest. When Emanuela took over the estate in 2002 she began bottling the estate’s first wines, ending the century old process of selling their wines to other wineries. Today Emanuela has made a name for her estate in both Italy and the international market selling not just wine, but also certified organic olive oil and grappa.
*The following two wines are named after her father and grandfather, respectively.
‘Italo’ Chianti DOCG Riserva 2011
Aged for 3 years in big barrels so the oak notes are light and elegant. Smooth tannins and a velvety finish balance soft floral and cherry notes.
‘Mauro’ Chianti DOCG 2012
Spice and herbaceous notes are the highlight, whilst a red fruit undercurrent leads the way to the dry, peppery finish.
Cantina Sociale Colli Fiorentini Valvirginio
The Cooperative was founded in 1972 and is located in the valley by the Virginio River in Montespertoli. Today the cooperative comprises 1500 hectares cultivated by growers passionate and dedicated to their knowledge and traditions. With an emphasis on environmental protection, they are the first Tuscan cooperative to install a photovoltaic system in order to produce their own energy.
Chianti DOCG 2013
Their “basic, entry level” Chianti that shines with delicate floral, berry and earth notes along with a clean mineral finish.
Chianti DOCG Riserva 2011
Aged for 12-15 months in French barrels, a good balance of fruit and earth notes atop a backbone of firm tannins, food beckoning acidity and oak notes. This needs a revisit in a few years as I can tell it will continue to develop.
‘Collerosso’ Chianti Colli Fiorentini DOCG 2011
One of the most popular wines the cooperative produces, super friendly with cherry and earth notes dusted with hints of sweet vanilla and toasted oak. A spicy dry finish of licorice and white peppercorn keeps it lively.
‘Poggio al Sasso’ Chianti DOCG 2012
My absolute favourite of the 4 presented, 100% Sangiovese crafted from shareholders that practice organic viticulture, aged in stainless steel. Famous for its slightly “raw edge”, with rustic aromas of wild berries and hay barn. Dense cherry and wild berry flavours were backed by baking spices and crushed white peppercorn, with a rich, velvety finish.
Media event hosted by Consorzio Vino Chianti