Cracking the Chianti Code

Chianti arrives, just perhaps not in 2011


Another in my series of reports focusing on the wines I was able to sample at the prowein event held in March of this year in Dusseldorf, Germany. Today we’re talking about Chianti Classico, soon to be followed by thoughts on a line-up of the new Gran Selezione wines. I’m not sure we need yet another level for Chianti, but that too shall wait for the next installment of this series for today i want to remain focused on the basic wines of the Chianti Classico zone. 

For me this is what Chianti is all about.

Classico: coming for the historic heart of the region.

No extended ageing. No Grand selection.
Chianti Classico had a stand are Prowein were one could taste trough probably 100 wines from over 60 producers both large and small. For a little more background on the Prowein event please check out Why You Should be going to Prowein. Stands like this are a very compelling reason to go, and while I was not able to devote as much time as I may have wanted to Chianti during this visit, after all Chianti occupied maybe 3% of the acres of Italian wines being featured at Prowien, and Italian wines make up only a modest percentage of the toal number of wines on offer, I did manage to spend the better part of three hours investigating  18 Chianti Classicos followed by 12 of the New Gran Selezione wines.

I skipped all the Riservas, and in hindsight that may not have been the greatest plan, but time was short and I had pressing matters to think about. Like how long the Burger truck line was going to be.
But seriously, I was here, at the Chianti Classico stand with limited time and a pair of missions. First and foremost was to try and suss out some of the best values from all the wines on offer, and that generally means skipping the Riservas. The second goal in mind was to try the Gran Selezione wines to see how they stack up, and here is where not having a recent set of tasting impressions for the Riservas may have done me a disservice. Instead I was to compare these new wines with the basic Chianti Classicos, and as that turns out that may be a more difficult task.
These wines are the vanguard of Chianti, released relatively early and designed to showcase the fruit of Sangiovese, often blended with a litany of other grapes. Chianti may very well be one of the most improved wines on earth. from distant but still clear memories of shrill, acidic , and thin wines happy to carry the banner of one of Italy’s greatest wine regions we have finally arrived at a point where Chianti can rub shoulders with some of the best wines in the market today. 

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Top Chianti Classico tasted 3/2014

Querciabella Chianti Classico (2011)
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Tenuta di Lilliano Chianti Classico (2011)
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Dievole Chianti Classico (2011)
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Val Delle Corti Chianti Classico (2011)
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Fattoria di Felsina Chianti Classico Berardenga (2011)
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San Felice Chianti Classico (2011)
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Fattoria Viticcio Chianti Classico (2011)
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Castellare di Castellina Chianti Classico (2012)
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