Excellent results for the Gallo Nero market: for the seventh year running a positive sales trend for Chianti Classico with an overall increase of 48.5% since 2009, the darkest year of the worldwide recession. In 2016 285,500 hectolitres of Chianti Classico were sold, the best result of the last decade. For the second year in a row, sales of Chianti Classico in Italy have also increased: the national market accounts for 22% of overall sales of Gallo Nero wines, making it the DOCG’s second biggest market after the USA. Third place for Germany with 13% (+1%). Canada is next (8%), then the UK and Scandinavia (both 5%), and lastly Switzerland, Japan, Benelux, China and Hong Kong, Russia and France.
“We have said goodbye to a very intense year,” says Chairman Sergio Zingarelli, Chairman of the producers’ association. “I remember 2016 as the year of our denomination’s Three Hundredth Anniversary, a year rich in important events that helped develop and consolidate the image of Gallo Nero in Italy and around the world. Today we have great challenges ahead: the formation of the Chianti rural district and the UNESCO world heritage candidacy are just two examples of projects underway to enhance the value of our area.”
Ninety-three years after it was created, the members of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, the first wine producers’ association in Italy, have risen to 580, 376 of which are estates presenting their own labels on the market.
Today the Chianti Classico area can rightly be defined as a true “productive district” counting on numbers worthy of a large company, and a global turnover estimated at over 700 million euro, bottled wine production values of about 400 million euro.
Chianti Classico Collection wine tasting
The 2017 edition of the Chianti Classico preview (also known as the Chianti Classico Collection), held as usual at Leopolda Station in Florence, saw a record number of participating producers: 185 companies with a total of 676 labels, including 57 previews from the 2016 harvest barrels and a good 87 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, for a total of about 9,000 bottles. In the vast sea of Chianti, our focus was on the following vintages presented for preview: Chianti Classico 2015 and Chianti Classico Riserva 2014.
In 2015, the Chianti Classico area enjoyed a very mild spring with medium-high temperatures that favoured regular vegetative germination. The summer saw only a little rain and high temperatures in the months of July and August. It was therefore hot although the night-time temperature difference was good.
Our opinion of 2015, after having tasted all the bottled Chianti Classico 2015 (we avoided samples from the barrel), was substantially positive. Crunchy, fruity, extremely pleasant wines that invite further tasting. However, going into the specifics, we noticed that we were dealing with a vintage in which the altitude of the vineyards had played a significant role. High vineyards are generally less affected by a humid summer and therefore produce wines of greater consistency, persistence and length.
As for the 2014 vintage, it is common knowledge that it was an extremely difficult and rainy year which, besides delaying the phenological phases of the vines and increasing the need for treatment in the vineyards, more than anything else made compromising the quality of the grapes in terms of ripeness a genuine risk. On the other hand, of course, at least in the Chianti Classico area, a favourable September weather-wise allowed producers to save what they could and attempt a miracle. And it is in the difficult years that those who work really well come to the fore, especially in terms of vineyards, so we actually did get the odd surprise. A wine with fragile beauty, not over complicated, perhaps not even long-lived (who knows), but yet able to evoke emotion, maybe because we were looking for it among the folds of a subtle yet coherent and bright wine. Here is our top ten.
Riecine Chianti Classico 2015 – 92 points
Tapered olfactory patrimony with touches of violet and cherry. Slender advance alternating transparent elegance with abundant fruity substance. Pure liquid temptation.
Since 1971, Riecine, despite three changes in ownership and three different nationalities, after 45 years is still a reference point for Sangiovese from Gaiole in Chianti. It all began with one and a half hectares of vineyard that John and Palmina Dunkley decided to retrieve and cultivate. The winery now counts 21 hectares, all within the Gaiole municipality, and is currently the property of a family led by Svetlana Frank. The company is certified as organic and also uses biodynamic preparations. The vineyards are located at an altitude of between 450 and 600 metres in various plots on calcareous-clayey soils.
Bibbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2014 – 91 points
A bright wine that pulses with pure subtle power and a dynamism brimming with integral substance. Rich in vital pulp, it dances gracefully with an unstoppable and blissful rhythm.
Fifth generation Tommaso and Federico Marrocchesi Marzi’s estate extends over 25 hectares at an altitude of between 270 and 300 metres. The great Giulio Gambelli, almost certainly the true interpreter of Sangiovese, has collaborated with the family for more than sixty harvests, leaving his legendary imprint as their inheritance.
Caparsa Chianti Classico Riserva Caparsino 2014 – 91 points
Well-balanced tannic register in a vital plot that reveals itself immediately, relying on the richness of the fruit. Inexhaustible and winning drinkability.
In 1964 Reginaldo Cianferoni acquired the estate at Radda in Chianti and his son, Paolo, began working on the property in 1982. The steep vineyards (12 hectares), distributed over several plots near the winery at an altitude of about 400 metres, are between 5 and 16 years of age. The soils are different, rich in marl, clay and limestone. Paolo Cianferoni, a radiant example of an authentic winegrower with his own particular organic philosophy, has led Caparsa to be one of the most exemplary Chianti Classico companies.
Istine Chianti Classico 2015 – 90 points
Intriguing floral traits developed in a tasty mouth of healthy and crunchy fruit. The wine boasts a satisfying gustative tension up to its tasty-acid epilogue.
With the 2009 harvest, Angela Fronti began producing her Chianti Classico from her own vineyards which extend over twenty-four hectares between Radda and Gaiole in Chianti. The three main vineyards, Cavarchione, Casanova and Istine, located at an altitude of between 400 and 500 metres, each have different characteristics although a considerable presence of skeletal soil (limestone and marl) is common to all. The certified organic company produces about 30,000 bottles.
Villa Pomona Chianti Classico 2015 – 90 points
The overall appearance is fragrant, iridescent and evocative. A melodic frequency and sharp voice that immediately tunes in with the taste buds, phrasing itself out into tonal juice.
The certified organic company is managed by Monica Raspi (assisted in the winery by oenologist, Filippo Paoletti). When her father died, she took the company’s reins and, respecting traditional and genuine vines, the company has since become a reference point for Chianti Classico lovers. Five and a half hectares where the 10-30 year-old vines delve their roots into a calcareous-marly soil with a limestone presence.
Castellinuzzi e Piuca Chianti Classico 2015 – 90 points
Fine and punctual in its aromatic phrasing, the overall expressive naturalness is striking. Succulent opening, primitive elegance, extremely drinkable finale.
The Coccia family owns two and a half hectares in the magical territory of Lamole and has recently also started converting to organic. The vineyards are divided between two plots: Castellinuzza is just below the winery while Piuca is higher up towards Lamole. Castellinuzza has impressive inclination and 45-year-old vines; Piuca, at an altitude of about 600 metres, is terraced, typical of the Lamole area.
Monteraponi Chianti Classico 2015 – 89 points
Invigorating pulp, elegant to the nose with fruity notes in line with a constantly reactive mouth that expands nimbly and gratifyingly to the very end.
This ten-hectare property was purchased by the Braganti family in the 1970s. Michele intervened at the end of the ’90s and, since then (first bottle in 2003), he has taken Monteraponi to the qualitative heights of its denomination. The vineyards, located at 420 to 560 metres above sea level, are distributed in amphitheatre style, snatched from the woods that surround this intriguing area, on soils with a marly-calcareous base and slopes of up to 25%.
Montebernardi Chianti Classico Retromarcia 2015 – 89 points
A seductive olfactory tone (that revealing anchovy!) is a prelude to a bright taste: delicate substance, pure juiciness for a moreish and tempting drinkability.
Purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Schmelzer in 2003 and currently managed by their son Michael following the organic regime with bio-dynamic methods, the company is located outside the Conca d’Oro (Golden Basin) in one of the coolest and most ventilated hilly zones of Panzano. It extends over 15 hectares with vineyards at 350 metres above sea level. The soils are marl, limestone and sandstone.
Val delle Corti Chianti Classico Riserva 2014 – 89 points
Delicate in its aromatic expression, the character of the wine emerges impressively on the palate. Fleshy and quick off the mark with a bright and lively display and quivering finale.
A small company with just 6 hectares (two rented), managed with passion and professionalism by Roberto Bianchi following the organic regime. The farmhouse is immersed within its own vineyard which includes a plot that is 40 years older.
Felsina Chianti Classico 2015 – 87 points
With its pervasive olfactory range and multi-faceted palate, that vibrates with a tasty gustative grip, the wine transmits a tonic boost up to its articulate closure.
Acquired in 1966 by Domenico Poggiali, the company is managed by Giovanni Poggiali and Giuseppe Mazzocolin, ex professor of Letters who abandoned teaching to dedicate himself to wine, with the assistance of oenologist, Franco Bernabei. The estate, cultivated following a certified organic regime, extends over 75 hectares of extremely varied soil ranging from calcareous-stony to clayey.