Wine Talk

Snooth User: dmcker

Good Chiantis

Posted by dmcker, Dec 4, 2009.

Since my other thread on Brunellos is bearing ripe, tasty fruit (and hopefully will continue to do so), and since Greg's great series of writeups on his recent trip to Tuscany and Umbria is heating up, I thought it might be good to have a dedicated thread where we can talk about the best wines that Chianti has to offer.

I'll start it off by pasting a post I made in another thread at the beginning of the autumn. It only talks about one Chianti, which isn't even the best of those lovely wines, but hopefully it will stimulate you to present your experience and views...


Original post by dmcker, Sep 11.

Last night I had dinner at a close friend's restaurant. The food was relatively simple, yet delicious (a superb bresaola with rucola and even better parmesan, papardelle con cinghiano, a lamb and chestnut stew, and a very good tiramisu). The weather had taken a turn cooler, I was feeling autumn coming on, and in a very carnivorous mood. I've known the chef/owner for nearly 20 years and the first two dishes are standards of his that reveal his very Tuscan roots, and that I've had dozens of times from him over the years. The lamb dish was more Sardinian/Corsican, but I wanted to try the first chestnuts of the season, even though his bistecca fiorentina is always tempting. He's very good at his craft (well known in Tokyo and has been on the Iron Chef, etc., over the years) , and I'm glad he has his own place now, where he himself can cook for me more often than when he was managing kitchens owned by others in the past.

Anyway, the reason for this post was the wines. My friend had just returned from his usual late August/early September trip back home to the coast west of Florence, and broke out a couple of bottles of red. One was a Felsina Rancia Chianti Classico Riserva, the other a Tenuta dell'Ornellaia Masseto, both of the just-released 2006 vintage.

The Masseto, which we had second, was my first experience with the wine. A truly, massively rich and deep merlot, with lots of oak showing. Tuscany does the Right Bank, in spades. I have a lot more I could say about this eye-opening wine, and was very glad to make its acquaintance, but personally would prefer to drink it after it had considerably more age. When I buy some of it (after a careful search for the cheapest, most reliable vendor, since it is quite pricey), I fully intend to discipline myself to let it lay for five, ten, fifteen years or more.

The real reason for this post was the first wine, the Felsina Chianti. I found it to be extremely well balanced, with very good length. Minerality was surprisingly good, as were its fruit and floral characteristics. I hadn't remembered having the wine before I tasted it, but when I did I remembered a time in Florence at the beginning of this decade when I had an earlier vintage.

I've only been on Snooth for a half year or so, but don't remember seeing very much about Chianti in the forum. There was one thread
that started with a very unhappy Chianti drinker, who complained about any and all she'd had. I was surprised to see the bad press the wines were receiving, since I've had many pleasurable bottles over the years, once I moved past the often-damaged Antinori or Ruffino bottles-in-a-basket by high-volume producers shipped halfway around the world and stored who-knows-how stage.

So what I'd like to ask is, first of all, if any of you are willing to share experiences with and about good Chiantis? Secondly, in amongst all the other deserving candidates for focus in your tastings and articles, Greg, would it be possible to see a closeup on Chianti at some time?


Reply by dmcker, Dec 4, 2009.

To further get things going, here was a response by Eric at the time:

Reply by Eric Guido, Sep 11.

There are some amazing Chianti's out there and the Rancia you're talking about is certainly one of them. Two other 2006's that I've enjoyed are the Antinori Peppoli and the Querciabella Chianti Classico. The Fontodi Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna del Sorbo is another outstanding bottle but I haven't tasted the 2006 yet. Also, I still have a spot in my heart for Ruffinos gold label riserva but I know exactly what you're talking about when it comes to the damaged bottle problem.

We did a Sangiovese tasting about a year ago at snooth. Maybe we can dig up that post because it had a bunch of Chianti's in it.

What happened to the global tasting idea, maybe Chianti would be a fun idea on the board here, I'd be game to participate.

Reply by dmcker, Dec 4, 2009.

And here are links to other past threads on the wine, including several tasting notes and reviews:

Reply by WineForNewbies2, Dec 5, 2009.

The Antinori and Ruffino Chianti Classico offerings tend to be pretty good representatives of the wine, widely available in the US at least, and not outrageously priced.

One of the best Sangiovese wines I've enjoyed has come under the name of Chariot out of California. Across vintages the wine has been full of flavor, well balanced, and decently priced at around $15 US. (Of course, "best" is a purely subjective concept--I should probably say "one of the Sangiovese wines I've enjoyed most" but I'm too lazy to go back and edit, especially when I can take much more time to write this long sentence.) :-)

Reply by WineForNewbies2, Dec 5, 2009.

Oops, let me be clear. The wine comes from California and is simply named Chariot. Not "Chariot out of California." That sounds like the name of an album from a group that wanted to be like The Eagles.

Reply by dmcker, Dec 6, 2009.

Guess I'm going to have to bump this thread, too. No one else with recommendations or reviews of particularly good Chianti Classicos, etc.?

Reply by GhostLemur, Dec 6, 2009.

Chianti are one of my personal fav's. Most recently has a 2003 Duca di Saragnano Chianti Riserva. As usual no notes yet for it, other than to say it was very smooth, and if it hadn't hit it's peak then I'd love to know how it could get better. Got one more bottle of it in the cellar. Next on the list to sample are the 2006 Duca di Saragnano Chianti DOCG and 2005 Castello dei Rampolla Chianti Classico. Thankfully although NZ is small we do get a reasonable selection of Chianti come in.

Reply by AdamJefferson, Dec 7, 2009.

A terrific Tuscan blend is Monte Antico, 2006. The Chianti purist won't enjoy it as much but its wonderfully priced and easy to drink.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Dec 8, 2009.

There are so many good producers in Chianti these days. My email today focuses on the three I was able to visit while over there last month.

In addition some of my favorites include, Selvapiana Bucherciale, anything from Montevertine ( though they don't say Chianti on the label), San Guisto a Rentenanno, Querciabella, I had some nice wines from Nozzole recently and plan to taste through their line-up sometime this week.

Then there are producers like Felsina(who can be great but has been erratic of late), Fontodi ( nice wines but in a big, rich, modern style) and Fonterutoli ( Big monolithic style) who get alot of press attention.

There are at least two styles in Chianti - the modern and the traditional. Roughly. Funny that there's a Chianti thread and a Brunello thread at the moment but no mention of that other Tuscan star: Vino Nobile. Ill be writing up my experiences with a handful of producers soon, but that's fodder for another email.

Reply by ChipDWood, Dec 8, 2009.

Dmcker had some thoughts about a sound experience he had with "Masseto" (Tenuta del Ornellaia)- and I must throw this out there.

See, I have a theory. It goes thusly:

Masseto, as noted, is as powerful a merlot as anything from the right bank- and that's saying something. The vines there are ancient, the minerality of the Masseto that I've had a few chances to experience is mind-blowing, and it's a triumph for the varietal no matter what it's compared to in its aging ability and raw power. Enter the theory...

The Le Serre Nuove, ( ) which is more or less the estate's "second label" to the omni-known "Ornellaia" Super Tuscan blend, is a heck of a bottle for its price. I've had several vintages of Ornellaia, the Masseto, and the Le Serre Nuove- the baby of the bunch. I am convinced that the fruit that is used to make the Le Serre Nuove is not the same batch of young merlot vines that eventually find their way into Ornellaia- but rather the youngsters that will eventually find their way deeper into the earth... and into the Masseto label itself.

For a second (or even a third) label that La Serre Nuove is... it certainly packs an unctuous punch that's got all the indicators of a powerful merlot on its way to maturity, rather than a cab that's in the minors.

Just a theory. And at $50 a bottle, a much more affordable one than either of the other two ;).

Reply by ChipDWood, Dec 8, 2009.

I just wanted to add that the theory mentioned above, is mine. I have made this theory, composed it myself, and due to this fact, it is mine. The theory.

...Which is mine.

Reply by dmcker, Dec 8, 2009.

Gotta love Monty Python. Seems to bridge the generational gap, too, at least to my daughters....

Reply by ChipDWood, Dec 8, 2009.

heh... and here when I saw you reply I would be greeted by a 700 word essay regarding the validity there-of, (or LACK of there...of) my theory.

Which is mine. This theory of mine.

Reply by dmcker, Dec 21, 2009.

Greg, I had a Montevertine Le Pergole Torte Toscana Rosso, from 2003, at the same friend's restaurant last week. Very old school, and a lovely, lovely sangiovese. Was a crazy night and the last thing I was doing was taking tasting notes, though it's easy to remember the sourish cherries, Sri Lankan tea, Cuban cigar-wrapper, bay-rhum and saddle leather on the nose, as well as the chewiness and velvety, long finish. Very ripe dark fruit and a mixture of fresh and dry herbs on the palate in between. It and the Felsina Rancia above stick in my mind as the best Chiantis (even if the Le Pergole Torte isn't labeled as such) I've personally had anytime recently. Wish the Montevertine was a little cheaper, though I'll still be hunting for more from that producer...

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Dec 24, 2009.

Re:Pergole Torte, a stunning wine indeed. I am thrilled to be getting together with some friends in early january to dig into this line-up!

2004 Pian del Ciampolo
2007 Pian del Ciampolo

1988 Montevertine
1990 Montevertine
2004 Montevertine

1997 Il Sodaccio
1998 Il Sodaccio

1978 Pergole Torte
1985 Pergole Torte
1988 Pergole Torte
1995 Pergole Torte
1997 pergole Torte
1998 Pergole Torte
1999 Pergole Torte
2003 Pergole Torte
2004 Pergole Torte

A full report will of course follow, should be the star of an email.

Reply by dmcker, Dec 24, 2009.

Well that certainly looks like a seriously nice list of wines for one evening (or several)! Are they from your cellar? Color me extremely curious and envious....

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