Chianti Classico: 2022 vintage report and the best wines from the Chianti Classico Collection Tasting 

Chianti Classico Collection 2024

In 1924, 33 producers created an association to promote and protect the wines of Chianti Classico. By doing so, they anticipated the birth of the consorzi (bodies ruling appellations) in Italy in the 1960s.

A century later, this pioneering institution gathers over 350 wineries, and the number of its members has constantly increased in recent years – as has the number of producers in this area who have shifted from selling grapes or juice to bottling their wine. 

Giovanni Manetti, The President of Consorzio

Quoting the president of the consorzio, Giovanni Manetti, whom we interviewed during the latest edition of Chianti Classico Collection, the Chianti Classico appellation is “ 100 years old but projected into the future”.

Chianti Classico is firing on all cylinders 

The 100th anniversary of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico coincides with one of the most exciting moments in the history of this wine-growing area. The Gallo Nero (black rooster) wines have become increasingly popular in recent years, and they partially defied the challenges of 2023, an “annus horribilis” for the wine industry.

Chianti Classico withstood the downward spiral currently affecting most appellations that focus on red wines, reporting meaningful increases in sales in key international markets like Canada (+10% on a yearly basis). Prices have also gone up, outperforming the Italian inflation rate by 13%.

This success is strictly related to the tremendous appeal of the “Annata” (entry-level) category, which makes up the lion’s share of the total production. No other Italian wine-growing area currently offers a higher quantity of wines that are once distinctive, site-specific, and complex enough to grab wine geeks’ interest but also easy-drinking, food-friendly, and fairly affordable (especially if compared to similarly-styled wines from other parts of Italy and France). They are the epitome of the “less is more” concept that has become a mantra among younger consumers. 

How are the 2022 Chianti Classicos? 

A few successful vintages strengthened the positioning of Chianti Classico in international markets. 2016, 2019, and 2021 were just some recent vintages that provided favorable conditions for producing top-notch wines.

2022 didn’t look as flattering on paper, as it recorded the highest temperatures and lowest annual rainfalls ever. Producers, however, have become accustomed to working hard to achieve finesse and balance despite global warming, and that explains why the 2022 Annatas are qualitatively more consistent than anyone would have expected.

Twenty years ago, a vintage like this could have yielded more than a few monolithic wines with overripe or prematurely evolved flavors, harsh tannins, and unintegrated alcohol. By contrast, the 2022s Classicos are hardly ever overdone: perhaps they lack the irresistible charm and poise of examples from really great vintages but they possess enough freshness and succulent – if mostly dark – fruit to drink well straight out of the gate and deliver great pleasure for a few more years. 

The 2022 vintage in Chianti Classico in a nutshell

  • Climate: According to leading Italian news outlet, WineNews, 2022 was the warmest year ever recorded in Tuscany, with average temperatures having been 1.3 degrees higher than the mean for the 1991-2020 period. On the other hand, the anomalies were more significant during winter, spring and late fall than in the crucial months of the growing cycle. Maximum temperatures remained relatively high throughout the summer yet the heat spikes were few and short. Furthermore, september was considerably less warm in Chianti Classico than in most areas of Tuscany: meteorological archives report that maximum and minimum temperatures dropped significantly in most townships across the wine-growing area from the second week of the month, making for favorable conditions in the pre-harvest period.
  • Water scarcity: Prolonged drought characterized the whole season. The winter months were among the driest ever recorded, and as a whole, annual rainfalls were 13% lower than the average for the 20 year-period. The situation improved in the last part of the season, thanks to significant showers between late August and the beginning of September that rehydrated the berries. 

Comparing 2022 to other recent vintages

In the end, all these conditions made for wines that positively surprised us: compared to those from other infamously warm vintages like 2017 or 2003, the 2022 Annatas showed considerably better balance. They are somewhat more similar to the 2015s.

Sometimes the tannins are slightly angular, and the fruit is not rich enough to counterbalance them. What you often miss is the seamlessness found in the best 2021s and 2019s – and even in a few 2015s – but there is no lack of acidity, and that is what matters the most for a wine the calling card of which is the ability to match a wide variety of foods.

Which subzone of Chianti Classico performed best in 2022?

While the Unità Geografiche Aggiuntive are only allowed for the Gran Selezione category, the entry-level wines often better convey a site-specific identity. In 2022, those originating from cooler areas proved more consistent: if you pick a random bottle from Radda, where vineyards sit on steep slopes ranging between 450 and 700 meters above sea level, you are likely to find a classically-styled, mouthwatering wine. It comes as no surprise that most of our top picks belong to this area.

But even warmer subzones like San Casciano or Castelnuovo Berardenga gave a few impressive wines – just a little more open-knit and early-drinking, the judicious acidity supporting a richer structure endowed with luscious dark cherries and/or bramble fruits.

Late-released 2021s

2021 is commonly considered an excellent vintage, even though some of the wines were slightly more difficult to appreciate than expected at the Anteprima last year – mainly due to substantial tannins and piercing acidity that required a longer time to achieve balance. After one year, the wines showed very well, with a red-fruited profile that sets them apart from the 2022s, and hints at milder growing conditions. Their overall performance also reflects the wise decision by some of Chianti Classico’s absolute best producers to hold their wines for an extra year before release. 

The tasting at Chianti Classico Collection

At the Chianti Classico Collection 2024 tasting we found a wide array of solid wines from producers with totally different philosophies:

  •  Three big producers managed to make terrific large-production wines that you will find virtually anywhere in the world.
  • As always, cult wineries – namely those enjoying a great reputation in the face of relatively limited production – have crafted rock-solid Annatas with good to outstanding cellaring potential. It is worth spending a few extra pennies to get their hands on them.
  • Producers labeling themselves as “natural” also produced some of the most interesting low-intervention Annatas in memory. Some of these wines show a bit of rusticity that may offset a few consumers yet they also come across as especially characterful and transparent to terroir.
  • Finally, up-and-coming wineries still falling under wine lovers’ radar are the main source of excitement in Chianti Classico. Most of our favorite wines belonged to this category.

Check out the full tasting report with a detailed explanation of the best Chianti Classico from the 2021 and 2022 vintage