Chianti Classico tasting June 19, 2015

Lisa Zinck
June 19 2015

Oh how I love Sangiovese! I am amazed at how diverse the varietal is and how it offers so many different expressions. Tonight’s tasting was a walk through the sub-regions of Chianti Classico DOCG.

The benefits of being in the wine business are that you are afforded opportunities to travel to these beautiful places and meet the people who make the wine and also educate yourself on the region. Reading a book about a region helps geographically and also helps to understand the processes, however when you sit with the winemakers and viticulturists (usually the same person on small farms) you better understand the life they live and the wines they make and we are always enhanced and understand, in an intimate way, what they are all about.

In Florence this past February I had the luxury of attending the release of the 2013/2014 Chianti Classico vintages (Annate) and the 2012 Riserva and Gran Selezione. Just imagine 140 vintners each with at least 4 wines and a mere 5 hours to taste through their offerings! I managed as I had a plan of attack…just jump in!

Our tasting on Friday June 19 was a small gathering, but everyone was ready to learn about Chianti Classico and the new classification of Gran Selezione. I narrowed our offering to 9 carefully selected Chianti. This is a great deal to taste through; however my intention was to express the sub-regions and show their differences as well as winery styles.

We started with Il Palagio Chianti Classico 2012, one of my favorites from Tavarnelle Val Di Pesa – Panzano and we finished with their Gran Selezione Le Bambole. I wanted to show how Sangiovese can age and so presented Rocca Montegrossi Chianti Classico 2008 from the Gaiole. I was not surprised that it won first place. It was drinking at its optimal. Not far behind was the Le Bambole from Il Palagio. Third place, and I was not surprised, was the Il Palagio Chainti Classico Riserva 2010.

The night was a whirlwind and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the evening and many were eager to continue on! Sadly, all good things do come to an end, but the good news was all bottles were available for purchase so participants could continue to enjoy tasting at home with friends.

Tavarnelle Val Di Pesa – Panzano

1.    Il Palagio Chianti Classico 2012

A Kensington Wine Market exclusive! This wonderful easy-to-drink Chianti Classico hails from a small, family-owned producer in Panzano, in the heart of Tuscany’s Chianti Classico wine region. We love it with a range of cuisine: steak, pasta, lasagna or game. It shines with Italian-influenced dishes. Not Sting’s winery, which has a similar name, just in case you’re wondering!

2. Poggio al Sole Chianti Classico 2011

A charming Chianti Classico from an excellent producer. Giovanni Davaz owns fifteen precious hectares of vineyards in Tavernelle Val di Pesa where he grows very fine Sangiovese, muscular Cabernet Sauvignon, and dense, powerful Syrah. Generous use of small barrels in vinification barely tame the exuberant, broad fruit quality of his wines, and the firm, large-scaled tannic structure in them makes them suitable for extended aging. Ripe and rich fruit gives this wine lush notes of sweet cherries and leather. Very food friendly, especially with herb roasted chicken. A Kensington Wine Market exclusive!

Gaiole in Chianti

3. San Giusto Chianti Classico 2012

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate gave the 2011 vintage 90 points, but he hasn’t yet reviewed the 2012. Here’s what his team has to say about the winery, however: “Run by the Martini di Cigala siblings (Elisabetta, Luca and Francesco), Fattoria San Giusto a Rentennano is a flagship winery in the Gaiole in Chianti subzone of the denomination.” Rich, earthy and intense!

4. Rocca Montegrossi San Marcellino 2008

The San Marcellino sees roughly two years in barriques, of which a quarter (2008) to almost half (2009) might be new (the rest 2- and 4-year-old barrels), and up to two years in bottle before release. From 95 percent Sangiovese and 5 percent Pugnitello, the elegant 2008, the current vintage, which was about one-third of the total production to select the best fruit.

Greve in Chianti

5. Querciabella Chianti Classico 2012

“There was a cornucopia of excellent wines at Waitrose’s  recent summer tasting. Some are so good they’re worth  the detour: the complex 2006 Querciabella Chianti Classico is a great Tuscan red with concentrated sour cherry fruit  flavour, a hint of star anise and super-sleek texture.”

Castellina in Chianti

6. Mazzei Chianti Classico Fonterutoli 2011

90% Sangiovese, 10% Malvasia Nera, Colorino and Merlot

Aging potential: 10 years and more

A well proportioned, elegant body, dark berry, fresh spice flavors, intense, smooth taste. Aged cold cuts, dark sauce pastas, BBQ, boiled meats with spicy sauces, fried vegetables.

Radda in Chianti

7. Poggerino Chianti Classico 2011

A Wine Spectator Top 100 wine in 2013! Year-in-year-out, Piero Lanza turns out wonderful and affordable Chianti Classico from the family farm on the outskirts of Radda. The 2009 shows a layered and intense dark cherry fruit on the attack gently seasoned with cedar and dried herbs. The wine has a bold ripe flavour and a deep core of fruit backed by more structure than usual indicating that this wine will stand cellaring for 5+ years. Best of all though the wine has great energy and lift and is delicious Chianti Classico…as usual. Organic, too!

Back to Tarvanelle Di Pesa – Panzano

8. Il Palagio Chianti Classico Riserva 2010

A Kensington Wine Market exclusive! From a wonderful small producer in Panzano, Tuscany, this Sangiovese-based blend contains 5% Merlot, too. It has notes of dark red fruits, spice and flowers, and is made to pair with game, red meats or hard cheeses. Less than 5,000 bottles of this beauty have been made, so don’t miss your chance to try it! Not Sting’s winery, which has a similar name, just in case you’re wondering!

9. Il Palagio Chianti Classico Le Bambole 2011

Wow – what a gorgeous example of a Super-Tuscan, and a great price compared to many! “Nose: very intense, with notes of ripe red fruits, typical and persistent, with spicy notes of aging. Flavor: exuberant, great structure, harmonious, very typical, with good freshness and a solid composition of silky tannins, fruity and persistent finish with excellent balance. Serving temperature: 18-20° C. Serving suggestions: Pasta, steak, pork and lamb, Strong and aged cheeses,” according to the Il Palagio team. Not Sting’s winery, which has a similar name, just in case you’re wondering!

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