After scouring Montalcino for the very best of Brunello, FINE+RARE buyer Jessica Bryans turns her attention to Chianti Classico, unearthing some little-known gems on the way.
After three fantastic days touring Montalcino, it was time to move on to the region Chianti Classico. This is a crucial zone in the panorama of Italian wine with great diversity in soil types, altitude and climate from one site to the next, yet all underpinned by one common denominator: the Sangiovese grape. It is one of the areas that I feel may be under-appreciated so some exploration is well overdue.
My first stop was Felsina in Castelnuovo Berardenga. This is the southernmost property in the Chainti region and has been owned by the Poggiale family since the mid 60s. The winery is as beautiful as they come with 14th century buildings standing tall around the property and a cellar that has been converted from original horse-stables. The wines were equally lovely with my favourites being 2001 Chianti Classico Riserva, 2009 Colonia Gran Selezione and 2012 Maestro Raro Cabernet Sauvignon. The overall style of the wines seems to remain dedicated to freshness and elegance across the range.
Felsina’s 14th Century Cellars
After Felsina, my next stop was Riecine. This winery was brand new on my radar, having discovered it just months ago when wandering through a wine fair on a Sunday afternoon. After getting lost in the winding hills of Gaiole, I made it to the footstep of the winery to be greeted by Amandine who showed me around for the afternoon.
Riecine was founded in 1971 by an Englishman, John Dunkley, who purchased the estate with his Italian wife and helped pioneer Chianti Classico. Today, it is under the the ownership of a group of investors with close ties to the wine industry and wine merchants in Eastern Europe. The winery is certified organic, this complemented by the use of biodynamic practices.
When I tasted the wines, I was immediately impressed. Across the board the range is expressive, elegant, balanced and exciting (especially for the price). I really enjoyed the 2011 Riecine di Riecine, the 2013 Chianti Classico and 2011 La Gioia IGT. The 2014 Rosato was also crisp, refreshing and totally delicious and despite missing the hot weather zeitgeist I can picture it on my dinner table.
After a quick lunch in Panzano, I move on to my next appointment at nearby Le Cinciole – another new discovery. I recently read about La Cinciole on Michael Skurnik’s website and was intrigued – this was the first time I had tasted their wines. The owner and winemaker, Luca, greeted me and took me through the vineyards and into the small tasting room. Overall I was impressed with the quality of wine and especially likes the small production, single vineyard wine Petresco – made from 20 year old Sangiovese vines.
My last stop, Fontodi, didn’t fail to delight me with their delicious range of wines – including highlights 2011 Flaccianello and the 2011 Syrah. After tasting the range I went back to my hotel to unwind, delighted at the results of my first day in Chianti.
Next, read Day Five: Redigaffi
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