Chianti

*****

Felsina Berardegna Rancia Chianti Classico Riserva 2001. This a cru among crus! Nice dense color and a good amount of sediment, expected from a wine 11 years old. We decanted and tried a glass right out of the bottle which was really wonderful, but after an hour, it completely changed. The lovely bouquet of flowers and the essence of concentrated sweet dark berries mixes with piquant floral elegance and powerfully inticing scents. A strong dose of supple sweet dark cherry fruit strikes the palette mid-center and a slight tobacco aftertaste slowly fades into a silky finish as the soft fruit returns. The Rancia is right up there with the best Chianti I ever tasted and the last glass is better than previous ones, full of with sweet yet not overly ripe dark cherry flavors.  It’s completely harmonious and evolved while being fresh and stable enough for further development. I’m not saying it will get better, just that I’m sorry I don’t have another bottle to open next year!

2004 Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva. My favorite go-to-reliable Chianti, always enjoyable and affordable. Elegant aromas of sweet ripe cherry, blackberry and moss becoming more intense with a hint of violets on its’ second day open. Very nice dried fruit in a classic, lean Chianti style. Everything is in the right place, nothing too heavy nor flabby, tightly focused and rewarding, the dark fruit on the nose is followed with a touch of tobacco on the finish. This wine is so perfectly harmonized now, it’s the best bottle so far. It seemed to be going over the hill this past year, and now this bottle, wow! Highly Recommended, great with food or without. 92. 9/2012

Fonterutoli Chianti Classico Riserva 2006 “Mazzei”: Rich color, crisp nose of frsh fruit, mint, berries and a hint of liquored cherry. Well balanced and clean, not too heavy. Good flavor that remains on the tongue, smooth tannins, good structure with fried fruit, earthiness and a clean, forward elegance. Really nice finish, just what a CC should be: good with food, cheese or crackers and excellent by itself. 90 5/2012

Carpineto Chianti Classico Riserva 2006. Deep, dark, impenetrable color. At first it’s tight and green, closed off and not very interesting. But after a day to open up, then a lovely nose of ripe dark fruit, black cherry, blackberry, dark raspberry comes through with taste to match! Velvety and smooth, yet full bodied with good tannins, the flavors are directed towards the middle of the palette. The tatse doesn’t fade however, but entices another sip. Lay this one down and I’m sure it’s going to reward you after few year’s of development. One delicious Chianti for an unbeatable price of $20 at Marty’s Newton. 90 pts. 2.24.12

Querciabella Chianti Classico 2007. Querciabella  Chianti Classisco is one of my favorite non riserva bottlings. I know it very well, having tried several vintages in both the U.S. and Italy. It’s always pleasing and of superior quality, but the ’07 vintage is simply delicious. The production in this vineyard is both Biodynamic and Organic. The grapes are 95% Sangiovese and 5% Cabernet, de-stemmed, not crushed, spending 14 months in oak (10% new French barrels, the rest 1-2 years old). The ’07 has a medium dark color, a rich nose of dark cherry and black raspberry fruit, a bit of moss and wet wood. It’s lightly spiced and the oak is no longer evident at this point, yet it has a persistent intensity of aromas. The taste is not too dry and the sour dark cherry taste is most prominent. Drinking well now, it’s ripe and round, the tannins are soft but it has good body and will last. Everyone likes this wine! 92 pts. 2/12

Castellare Chianti Classico 2007. Ah, bring on the funky Tuscan underbrush and lay a forrest path to my cellar door! Among my favorite, Castellare’s bottlings never fail to please in any form, whether the Chianti Classico, the Riserva or the infamously delicious I Sodi di San Nicolo’, I always enjoy the brilliant, clean Sangiovese fruit from this producer. Spicey sweet and sour plums, dark currants and cherries emerge from the bouquet and are duplicated on the tongue with slight tones of oak and good acidity, just enough to give an uppward thrust  to the abundant fruit, followed by a rounded Ruben’s finish that doesn’t dissipate quickly, but begs the question, “how many bottles do I have left?”  This wine is now coming around to reveal more depth than it did earlier this year when the barely ripe crushed berry dominated. Now, there is more of that intriguing sage and wild mint flavor that will make you happy to encounter this lovely entry level Chianti. Don’t be fooled by other cantinas’ promo hype, this is top class. How can I give an honest rating when I’m biased?  This is right in my realm of sheer enjoyment. 90++ 10/2011

2nd tasting… June 3, 2012: Thank goodness it wasn’t my last bottle! It’s now become rich, more fully developed and could easily go longer. The dark fruit concentration expands as it opens in a large glass with aromas of dark chocolate mint and dried plums. Perfect really, the flavor is refreshing, still tannic but not overly so, in fact enabling the dried cherry and plum flavors to linger with a very slight tobacco finish. Incredible. For sheer pleasure and perfection from a wine of this class (not a Riserva!), it deserves a higher rating – 94!!

2004 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva Medium dark color, luminescent and brightly reflective in the glass. Wonderful aromas of blueberry, blackberry and sage topped with forrest fruit preserves waft upwards in complete harmony. This is a wine where you can enjoy the scent as much as the taste that follows.

The Volpaia Riserva is %100 Sangiovese and for that reason, but not only, is completely different from the regular Volpaia bottling which to my taste seems to have some percentage of Merlot. I’m not a fan of mixing Merlot with Sangiovese unless it’s in one of the very good “Tuscan” style wines – some call it “Super” Tuscan but let’s avoid that controversy here. Merlot is often added, legally by the way, to Sangiovese to produce a darker, more smoother and easier drinking Chianti. Merlot might take the edge off of Sangiovese’s intensity, but I like the edge in a good Chianti!

The flavor of this Riserva is medium to full-bodied with spicey tannins that support the elegant flavors of dried blackberry and black cherry. Balanced and not overly ripe, this a perfect example of classic Sangiovese beauty. Luscious with slight hints of vanilla oak and a peppery finish, it’s silky and smooth yet still tight enough and big enough to sustain further aging. I would try it again in 2-4 years for a spectacular experience. It’s all there now and perfectly enjoyable, yet I don’t anticipate any of the delicious flavors fading or disappearing anytime soon. Doesn’t seem to have an over presence of oak barrel aging, so I like it even more for that reason. A classically structured Chianti. My own rating, well, from a lover of Sangiovese from the Chianti Classico region, I’d give it a solid 93+ (that’s after being open for three days which improved the flavor greatly, indicating a good life ahead). 91 pts 11/2011

Chianti Classico Berardegna Riserva 2006. Dark ruby red color. On first opening, still tight, not easily giving up its delsicious fruit just below the surface. Full bodied yet supple, edgy yet attractive and appealing. On the second and third day it opens up and reveals its full potential. Dried fruit, dark cherries, wild plums, violets and oak fill the glass and invite repeated affirmation of the seductive charms of Sangiovese. The taste is layered with liquored black fruit, ripe plum and tobacco, most notably pronounced in the finish. Beautiful tannins balanced with good acidity, the Riserva is more structured, with classic intensity to the point of austerity, than the regular bottling. Having spent upwards of 16 months in oak barrels, still, the wood does not overpower the fruit nor is it readily apparent on the palette. The Riserva will not be drinking at its best until a few more years and will last even longer. I graciously concede a luscious 94 pts, with hopes to meet again in the future, the powerfully intense perfume that fills my glass before the last sip so excruciatingly lovely to embrace. 11/2011


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