Updated: Feb 24, 2019
Prior to reviewing this year’s tastings, I thought it may be useful to mention some basic facts relating to Chianti Classico denomination.
Firstly a brief outline defining the nine areas that form the Chianti Classico territory laying between the provinces of Florence and Siena:
Is the third largest of the Chianti Classico regions and the furthest south.
The area is divided by a V section from Gaiole in Chianti which splits the area in two, the eastern side being higher and cooler where the famous and revered estate of Castell'in Villa is to be found.
The lower side is in the west, the warmest part being the extreme south west.
Noteworthy estates are Dievole and Fèlsina.
GAIOLE IN CHIANTI
As previously mentioned Gaiole almost divides Castelnuovo Berandenga in two. The soil composition of Gaiole is predominantly of tufa which tends to warm quicker and retain heat (tufa is made from volcanic ash ejected from a vent during a volcanic eruption).
The land around small village of Monti typifies this terroir where high quality wines are produced, deeply coloured, rich and fruity. Finest example being Rocca di Montegrossi, other noteworthy estates are San Giusto e Rentenanno, Badia a Coltibuono and the famous Castello di Brolio. On the western side the ground rises up to Radda in Chianti where the soil changes to limestone.
RADDA IN CHIANTI
The area around the village of Radda is the highest point in Chianti, sandstone and marl are the challenging soils for vines here. The most successful estates are: Castello di Volpaia and Monteraponi, wines here are dark, intense, dense and fruit laden.
Other estates worthy of mention are Castello di Albola at 650 metres above sea level, with extreme variance from hot days to cool nights, and Istine estate.
GREVE IN CHIANTI
This area comprise one fifth of all the vineyards in the region and produces a wide variety of Chianti Classico styles. Famed for its individuality is the village of Lamole, which produces a Burgundian version of Chianti Classico; pale and vigorous with formidable bouquet. Estates of note here are: Fattoria di Lamole and Lamole di Lamole.
Then we have the famous area surrounding the town of Panzano, renowned as 80% of its vineyards are organic; that is 95% of all producers compared to the entire region of only 35%.
A special estate worthy of singular attention is Vecchie Terre di Montefili.
Due south we find the beautiful Conca d’Oro (the Golden Shell) shaped like an amphitheatre, estates of note here are Fontodi and Vignamaggio.
Another winery worthy of mention is Villa Calcinaia found south west of Greve, having a long history of producing incredible deep, structured wines of great character.
SAN CASCIANO IN VAL DI PESA
Situated in the north west of the region and noted for its dense forests and vineyards situated at different altitudes and aspects where high and low plantings from the same estates are the norm.
The vineyards to the west of the area are influenced by the Mediterranean. Estate of note is Principe Corsini - Villa Le Conti: their Cortevecchia Riserva is a wine worthy of individual attention.
TAVARNELLE VAL DI PESA
Found in the central west of the region, this area has soils of clay and rock composition.
The wines here are generally full bodied, deep and vigorous.
Estate of importance: Badia a Passignano of Antinori ownership.
BARBERINO VAL D’ELSA
This is the smallest area of the region, situated in the west, it covers only 25 square miles. It has 3,500 inhabitants and over 20% of the population is involved in agriculture and primarily in the cultivation of grapes.
Here you will find two of the most respected and highly regarded wine estates in the entire region namely: Castello di Monsanto and Isole e Olena.
CASTELLINA IN CHIANTI
Sited in the south west this is the largest of all DOCG domains. A plethora of different wines and styles are produced here.
History is represented by the Mazzei family, who have been making Chianti since 1398. Today their Castello di Fonterutoli produces outstanding wines.
Other estates of note are: Tenuta di Lilliano, Nittardi and San Fabiano Calcinaia.
Easily overlooked as the final area of the region. Its contribution to the region’s output is approximately one - two - hundredth!
The foremost estate here is Cinciano.
To give further insight of this exceptional wine region here are a few bullet points of reference:
Chianti Classico was defined by a Bandol in 1716
The total area of the Chianti Classico territory is 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres)
Vineyards registered as Chianti Classico cover 7.200 hectares (18,000 acres) Average annual bottle output is 35/38 million
Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico has 523 members (315 of which are bottlers)
Chianti Classico is produced in 3 distinctions:
Chianti Classico Annata - alcohol content 12% vol minimum, 12 months minimum ageing
Chianti Classico Riserva - alcohol content 12.5% vol minimum, 24 months minimum ageing, 3 months minimum bottle ageing.
Chianti Classico Gran Selezione - alcohol content 13% vol minimum, 30 months minimum ageing, 3 months minimum bottle ageing. This wine is produced from a single vineyard or from a selection of each estates’ best grapes.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico for their kind invitation to Firenze to enable me to taste this year’s wines.