On Tuesday the 22nd of March I was one of the lucky few allowed to take part in a unique Masterclass: Chianti Classico over nine decades, a vertical tasting from 1949 up until today, it was conducted by the vibrant and engaging Filippo Bartolotta.
We tasted 9 wines from different decades, plus a special one that was kept back and presented as a suprise just before the end of the tastings. The oldest one was Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Brolio Riserva 1949.
It was a journey through the history of Chianti Classico, stopping to remember the time when the wine officially became a DOC, the period when it was produced with the addition of white grapes into the blend which gave added freshness and perfume.
The first wine tasted was very exciting, a Brolio Riserva 1949 that still maintained a subtle fruity presence and a dancing, vibrant freshness. The wine was clear to the eye and above all on the nose and was tinged – albeit faintly – with the typical citrus notes of a Sangiovese grown in Chianti Classico.
A very subtle reductive veil continued to protect the wine from oxidation and gave it complexity although this was tenuous and not accentuated.
The tasting moved on and passed to the second label : Badia a Coltibuono Riserva 1958. The deep nose characterized this gustatory experience. Black prunes blend with tertiary traces of wet earth and leather. It is energetic and layered on the palate and absolutely delightful to drink even after 64 years.
The voyage continued with the tasting of Castello di Monsanto Il Poggio Riserva 1969. Il Poggio was the first example of a Single Vineyard mentioned on the Chianti Classico label. Up until 1968 the Chiantigiano blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Colorino often had white grapes added; it was in 1969 that only black grapes were used for the first time.
The wine is crazy! Il Poggio 1969 shows itself to have an important sensory intensity, reminiscent of mandarin peel, passionfruit, citronella, wild thyme, strawberries and dried cherries. A lot of hibiscus and white pepper describe the secondary profile. Medium to full bodied, showing perfectly matured tannins and a finale which is truly impossible to resist.
Il Poggio 1969 was the best wine in the tasting with another much younger wine; Bugialla Riserva 2014.
From the 70’s we tasted Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico 1975, a strong wine that shows elegance and admirably carries it’s years. Revealing a remarkable quantity of tertiary notes yet on the palate it defends itself very well with a tannic texture which is still firm and taut.
The wines exhibited from the 80’s and 90’s were rich in material and well interpreted. Marchesi Antinori Chianti Classico 1985 and Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico Riserva 1993 are two wines which are still on their feet and lovable in their decisive, opulent style. The 1985 vintage will always be remembered for the terrible frosts that saw temperatures in Florence drop to -26°C. The 1993 was fresh and mediterranean, squeezed in the middle between the two difficult years from 1992 to 1994.
With a big jump of 15 years we tasted Pomona Chianti Classico 2009. The wine is balanced and of medium depth yet suprising with it’s beautiful mediterranean matrix.
Poggerino Bugialla Riserva 2014 was the wine which everyone agreed about. Piero Lanza is a maestro for many, during the years when the winemaker must show his worth he has never missed an occasion to leave his indelible mark in Radda. It’s a wine that will be talked about over time, a wine that can still be aged for many years to come, a wine which will silence the sceptics who insist that structured, deep wines cannot be produced from difficult vintages. Bugialla Riserva 2014 really has everything. Equal to vintages that were decidedly more acclaimed by the national and international critics, it will still be an exciting wine with continued aging.
We conclude the tasting with one last suprise, the Castell’In Villa Riserva 1995. An amazing, engaging wine. A complex wine that alternates traces of full blown flowers with fruits of diverse intensities. It offers a gentle caress to the palate thanks to the refined tannins, it’s hard to think of other wines as elegant as this one from those years.
Energetic and dynamic are perhaps the best adjectives to describe the Chianti Classico denomination. Such a wine tasting can do nothing but confirm our opinion about the Gallo Nero wines.
Chianti Classico and it’s wines are fun, complex, noble, vibrant, passionate, exciting, historical and decidedly fascinating.
We are really priveledged to be able to appreciate every form, every dip and curve of the Chianti Classico hills, we are so lucky to be able to communicate all this to the rest of the world.
Chianti Classico is history and art in a glass and tells the story of the territory and the people. The Chianti Classico Collection is a type of magic that repeats itself every year and allows the true lovers of Gallo Nero to rejoice in the endless novelties it has yet to show.
Following are the comments on all the wines tasted:
|Poggerino||Chianti Classico||Bugialla Riserva||2014||96||Red|
Mature, strong and centred showing complexity in every centimetre of the glass. Scents of sour cherries, red prunes, cumin, citronella and coriander blend with hints of black pepper and juniper berries. Full bodied, perfectly matured tannins and a solid, centred finale giving pleasure in every sip. One of the best 2014 produced in Chianti Classico. Drink now or hold.
|Castello di Monsanto||Chianti Classico||Il Poggio Riserva.||1969||93||Red|
Incredible on the nose for it’s energy and character, it shows itself to have a high level of sensory intensity with notes of mandarin peel, passionfruit, citronella, wild thyme, strawberries and dried cherries. A lot of hibiscus and white pepper describe the secondary profile. Medium to full bodied, perfectly matured tannins and a finale that it is impossible to resist. Il Poggio was the first single vineyard in Chianti Classico and the first very exciting expression was produced in 1969. Drink now.
|Castell’in Villa.||Chianti Classico||Riserva||1995||93||Red|
Splendid and decidedly captivating in the sensory profile showing notes of hibiscus, lemon blossom, lime peel, ripe fruit, black pepper, citronella and bergamot. A lot of camphor describes the secondary profile. Full bodied, soft tannins of notable width and a precise finale, sartorial in it’s execution. Drink now or hold.
|Barone Ricasoli||Chianti Classico||Brolio Riserva||1949||92||Red|
Extremely delicate in colour with a tenous cipria rose hue, this Chianti Classico Brolio Riserva shows a complex sensory profile with a slightly reductive character. The scents of red berries are still present and blend with withered orange peel and cipria. Bergamot and chinotto lend excitement to the flavour of this 73 year old wine. Medium bodied, very delicate tannins and a juicy finale that must be loved for it’s pleasantness. Well integrated in the vivacity of it’s freshness that is still firm and ringing. Drink now.
|Villa Calcinaia||Chianti Classico||1975||92||Red|
There’s a lot of fruit and citrusy character in this Chianti Classico that shows notes of chinotto, wet earth, leather, saltiness and a lot of wilted flowers. Medium bodied, light tannins of incredible drinkability and a very pleasant, elegant finale, exciting in every sip. Wow, fabulous!
|Lamole di Lamole||Chianti Classico||Riserva||1993||91||Red|
Radiant and vibrant showing notes of raspberries, currants, liquorice, sage and wild thyme. Medium bodied, incredibly well smoothed fine grained tannins and a juicy finale, slender and dynamic, really lovely. Drink now.
Wild in it’s primary character showing notes of peaches, apricots, loquats and mixed white flowers. Medium to full bodied, light tannins and a finale unique in it’s lightness and character. Drink now or hold.
|Badia a Coltibuono||Chianti Classico||Riserva||1958||90||Red|
Very mature, tinged with the dark notes of dried black prunes, wet earth, leather and sweet caramel. Full bodied, juicy and fragrant in the sip and a tasty, intriguing finale. Drink now.
|Marchesi Antinori||Chianti Classico||Riserva||1985||90||Red|
Strong and remarkably beautiful with deep, mature traits giving notes of black prunes, blackberries, wild thyme and wet earth. Full bodied, velvety tannins and a classic finale, well distended and seamless. Great work here. Drink now.