It has been just over 300 years since Cosimo III de’Medici; the grand duke of Tuscany established the boundaries for the production of Chianti. Now known as the only production zone for Chianti Classico, the 70,000 hectares [173,000 acres] consists of 10,000 hectares [25,000 acres] of vineyards located in the center of Tuscany. Only within this area can wines be designated ‘Chianti Classico’.
The production of Chianti Classico wines are overseen by the Chianti Classico Consorzio. Chianti Classico must be comprised of a minimum of 80% Sangiovese and a maximum of 20% indigenous or international red grapes. The wine has to have a minimum of 12% Alcohol and 12 month minimum of ageing. The trademark black rooster [the historic symbol of the Chianti Military League] is found on every bottle of Chianti Classico. For more details on Chianti Classico, please visit the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico site here.
Organized by the Consorzio Chianti Classico, I was delighted to attend Chianti Classico Collection 2017 held at Stazione Leopoldo in Florence, Italy on February 14th. Held every year in Florence, the ‘antiprima’ tasting featured 2015 [barrel sample], 2014 and 2013 vintages of Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, IGT, Vin Santo and the new premium category Gran Selezione. Presenting 675 wines from 185 different estates in Chianti Classico, it was truly Chianti Classico as far as the eye can see!
A quick note about vintages:
2014 was a challenging year; the growing season was cool and damp, making it stand out from the previous hot seasons. The overriding consensus is that the success of the wine is entirely up to the savvy talent of the producer.
2015 has been hailed as a phenomenal year, so hot and dry, the Sangiovese bunches were smaller then usual, which is actually quite good for the varietal. Ripe and juicy, its predicted these will be spectacular, with long aging potential. All of the 2015 wines presented were barrel samples.
I wish I had the time to taste more, if not all the wines, but I feel that this is a good goal to work towards!
Below are the wines that I feel conveyed the classic, traditional personality, and the ones that expressed a unique, intriguing identity of Chianti Classico.
Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico 2015
Sweet aromas of cherry, watermelon and candied flowers. Very fruity and accessible with cherry, white pepper and traces of vanilla bean, culminating in a clean, dry finish.
90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo, 5% Colorino
Castello di Volpaia ‘Volpaia’ Chianti Classico 2015
Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2015
As I find all Isole e Olena wines to be; well structured and elegant. Subtle cherry, dusty earth and floral aromas introduce cherry, sour cherry herbaceous flavours. Clean minerals highlight the spice driven finish. Balanced, with a good synthesis of flavours already.
80% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 5% Syrah
L’Orcio a Ca’ di Pesa Chianti Classico 2015
Great play of fruit and spice with black cherry, black pepper, anise and a lengthy finish of toasty oak and hints of baking chocolate. A bit of complexity to the layers, yet light and easy drinking.
95% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino
Tenuta di Capraia Chianti Classico 2015
Casaloste Chianti Classico 2014
I find Casaloste wines to be a classical expression of Sangiovese, and this does not disappoint. Soft aromas of leather, pepper and thyme. An herbaceous streak runs thru cherry, wild berry, leather and light spice flavours. The clean, dry finish is accented by earth and espresso elements. Well balanced and accessible.
90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot
Castelvecchi Captondo Chianti Classico 2014
Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2014
L’Orcio a Ca’ di Pesa Chianti Classico 2014
Striking aromas of espresso, tarry earth, traces cherry, and Brothers Johnson funk. Rich and plush with cherry, baking chocolate and savoury elements culminating in a spicy, dry finish. Intense and engaging, a thought provoking sip.
95% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino
Vignavecchia Chianti Classico 2014
Elegant and sleek with bright cherry and raspberry flavours underscored by white pepper and savoury elements, harmonizing with a sea salt mineral finish. A fantastic synthesis of fruit/herbs/spice.
90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot
Castello di Verrazzano ‘Sassello Vigneto Querciolina’ Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2013
Inviting berry, spice, licorice and dusty floral aromas. Stately in character, with morello cherry, red currant, blackberry and black pepper. Silky tannins and spiced oak glide along the herbaceous finish. A well-balanced blend of fresh fruit and spice.
Vignamaggio ‘Riserva di Monna Lisa’ Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2012
Intriguing aromas of pine, cherry pie and peppery spice. Muddled fruit notes and a bit too much oak are rather frustrating as the fantastically spicy, dry finish and unique aromas deserve better. I hope with a few more years under its belt, the oak will soften and be better integrated.
85% Sangiovese, 8% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon
Antinori ‘Badia a Passsignano’ Gran Selezione Chianti Classico Gran 2012
Tempting aromas of raisin, baked cherry, biscotti and summer woods. More woods then oak driven, with rich plum, baked cherry, raisin and vanilla wrapped around a woodsy frame. Velvety tannins accent the dense fruit and toasted oak on the plush finish. Powerful and well balanced.
Fèlsina ‘Colonia’ Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2011
Substantial aromas of cozy raisin, tobacco and cedar. Ripe black cherry, blackberry and red currant glide atop an herbaceous undercurrent, whilst earth and baking spice highlight the plush cedar finish. Bold and powerful with a fantastic expressive, rustic edge.
Media event hosted by Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico.