Chianti Classico Annata – Tasting report

The following wines were tasted together by Filippo Bartolotta and Raffaele Mosca at the Chianti Classico Collection Anteprima tasting held in Florence in February 2024.

CULT WINERIES

Five stars *****

Monteraponi – Chianti Classico 2022

Subzone: Radda 

Michele Braganti leads one of the most successful boutique estates in Radda in Chianti, crafting textbook examples from this cooler and higher terroir. His 2022 Annata is only slightly more expressive and open-knit than versions from top vintages, with earthy and ferrous nuances giving way to pomegranate, licorice, and violets. Super-bright and mightily tannic, it is clearly built to perform best with longer aging but already possesses enough balance to match a juicy T-bone steak.

Importers and retailers: Grand Cru Selection (United States) / Sarzi Amadè (Italy) / Bonvida Wines (Alberta, Canada) / Justerini and Brooks (UK)

Riecine – Chianti Classico 2022

Subzone: Gaiole 

Over the last thirty years, this iconic estate in Gaiole in Chianti has earned recognition for making some of the appellation’s most refined and succulent wines – almost a bit Burgundian in style. The 2022 vintage epitomizes this  captivating style emphasizing finesse and purity of fruit, with a staggeringly fresh nose of crunchy raspberries, iron and dried herbs, followed by an equally supple and streamlined palate focusing on blood orange and airy balsamic flavors. Irresistible right now yet this will achieve even better balance with a couple more years of bottle aging.

Importers and retailers:  Area6(Italy) / Alliance Wine (UK) / Kava Selection ( British Columbia, Canada) / Soilair Selections (New York and New Jersey, US) / The Source ( California, US)

Tenuta di Carleone – Chianti Classico 2021 

Subzone: Radda 

Sean O’ Callaghan worked for several years at Riecine before joining this estate on the steep ridges of Radda, which has quickly become one of the favorites among savvy wine geeks. Here you get an amazingly perfumed nose, with slightly candied red cherries, rose petals and a whiff of botanical herbs hinting at a significant proportion of the grapes having undergone whole-bunch fermentation. The palate mixes staggering finesse with a racy Chianti Classico soul: layers of sweet but also fragrant red fruits flow on a bed of mouthwatering tannins, giving an uncommon impression of energy and weightlessness.

Importers and retailers:  Artisanal Cellars ( United States) / Artigiano Imports (New Zealand) / Teatro del Vino (Italy) 

Four stars plus **** +

San Giusto a Rentennano – Chianti Classico 2022

Subzone: Gaiole

This long-running estate from Gaiole in Chianti always produces reliable, old school Annatas. The 2022 is a bit earthy in style, already showing above-average complexity through a seductive array of botanical herbs, animal musk, cocoa powder, and iron. Rich and powerful yet also poised, excellent acidity cuts through the broad structure, while slightly dusty tannins extend the dark-fruited finish.

Importers and retailers:  Vinifera Imports (United States) / Heres (Italy) / Il Caratello (Switzerland) / International Cellars (British Columbia, Canada) 

Four stars ****

Felsina – Chianti Classico Berardenga 2022 

Subzone: Castelnuovo Berardenga 

The most famous estate in the township of Castelnuovo Berardenga produced a solid wine that displays enticing scents of dark cherries, violets, and a smoky whiff of tobacco. Relatively slim for a milder-climate expression, with lifted acidity presumably hinting at early picking, beguiling savory echoes complicate the polished, dark-fruited finish. 

Importers and retailers:  Empson & Co ( Canada and United States)

Istine – Chianti Classico 2022

Subzone: Gaiole 

Angela Fronti is the rising star in a group of small “vignaioli” making authentic wines that reflect the unique terroir of the cool-climate Radda subzone. The 2022 is currently quite shy, focusing on iron, blood orange, and smoke. Youthfully tight, super-energetic and savory, this conveys an impression of youthful austerity without being too gritty. It will reward patient wine lovers.

Importer and retailers: Oliver McCrum (United States) / AB Vintners (United Kingdom) 

NATURAL WINE PRODUCERS

Four stars plus **** + 

I Fabbri – Chianti Classico Lamole 2021 

Subzone: Lamole 

Lamole is often regarded as the subzone giving the lightest and most Chianti Classicos, reflecting high elevations and sandy soils. I Fabbri crafted a textbook expression of this terroir through the lens of low-intervention winemaking. An earthy whiff complicates dark cherries and violets, anticipating a bright, ethereal and energetic palate that makes you crave tortellini or ragù pasta.

Importers and retailers:  Stone, Vine and Sun (UK), Banville Wine Merchants (New York, US)

Ottomani – Chianti Classico 2021  

Subzone: San Donato in Poggio

This is one of the most cutting-edge new-generation producers in Chianti Classico, producing extremely characterful wines in a hard-knocks natural style. Spending 14 months in concrete, with roughly 10% of the grapes undergoing whole-bunch fermentation, the 2022 vintage offers an enticing mix of red apple, balsam herbs, and leather, anticipating an equally distinctive palate, mixing an extra touch of earthiness with airy and lusciously sweet red fruits and a balsamic touch.

Importers and retailers: Amliere ( United States) 

Four stars ****

Monte Bernardi – Chianti Classico Sangió 2022

Subzone: Panzano

Monte Bernardi’s wines are halfway between the rich style of Panzano and the more austere style of Radda – this comes as no surprise as the winery sits on the edge of the former subzone but overlooks the first ridges of the latter. Add the uncompromising pursuit of low-intervention winemaking, and what you get is a distinctive profile with just a touch of earthiness giving way to blackberries, balsam herbs, and licorice. Bright acids lift a rich and relatively ripe, dark-fruited mouthfeel, making for a lovely combination of power and energy.

Importers and retailers:  Thorman Hunt (UK), Grain & Vine (New York, US)

Three stars 

Buondonno – Chianti Classico 2022

Subzone: Castellina 

From vineyards in the Castellina subzone, this has an intense nose with just a hint of tertiary evolution complicating pomegranate and licorice. Pleasantly rustic, with dusty tannins and earthy flavors mingling with crunchy black fruits, it will perform best with a succulent steak.

Importers and retailers:  Transparent Wine (California, US) / Triple A (Italy) / Bedales of Borough (UK) / Violette Imports ( Massachusetts, US) / Delinat AG (Switzerland) 

Montesecondo – Chianti Classico 2022 

Subzone: San Casciano

From vineyards in the San Casciano subzone – the northernmost of the appellation but also one of the warmest due to lower elevations – it sees no oak, and displays a slightly reticent nose, with blackberries, smoke, and lavender. A bit warm and dusty, judicious acidity lifts the earth-tinged dark fruits and supports a medium-long, savory finish.

Importers and retailers:  Louis Dressner (United States) / Dynamic Vines (UK) / Windmer (Switzerland) / Vite (Italy) / Olivier Brands (Alberta and British Columbia, Canada)

BIG WINERIES

Four stars plus **** +

Ricasoli – Chianti Classico Brolio 2022

Subzone: Gaiole

The largest estate in Chianti Classico is witnessing an impressive qualitative upheaval under the helm of Francesco Ricasoli. This may well be one of the best entry-level wines he has ever made, emerging from the glass with textbook aromas of crunchy blackberries, licorice, forest floor, and a spicy whiff. Full-bodied and racy, with substantial yet well-extracted tannins underpinning the rich, dark-fruited structure, the minerally and slightly herbal finish makes you crave classic Tuscan fare. 

Importers and retailers:  Folio Fine Wine Partners (United States) / Ethica Wines (Asia Pacific) / Fells (UK) / BC Liquor (British Columbia, Canada)

Four stars ****

Castellare di Castellina – Chianti Classico 2022

Subzone: Castellina 

This large estate in Castellina is always at the top of the game with its lovely Annata, usually standing out for its great quality-to-price ratio. Linear and polished, violets and pomegranate anticipate a linear, mid-weight palate with succulent tannins upfront, followed by ripe acidity and an enlivening kick of peppery herbs.

Importers and retailers:  Winebow (United States) / Bibendum Wine (UK) / Villani Rappresentanze (Italy) 

Three stars ***

Castello di Meleto – Chianti Classico 2022

Subzone: Gaiole

A textbook wine from a large and long-running estate, the 2022 Castello di Meleto displays attractive scents of tart bramble fruits mingling with iron and balsam herbs. Linear and acidity-driven, with just a touch of tannic grit at the back, this is an immediately-pleasing example that will perform well in any unassuming setting. 

Importers and retailers: GrapeX (United States) / Cheese Meets Wine (Hong Kong) / The Fine Wine CO. (UK) / BSW Liquor (Alberta, Canada)

Up-and-coming wineries 

Five stars *****

Cigliano di Sopra – Chianti Classico 2022  

Subzone: San Casciano

Over the last few years, this historical estate from the often overlooked San Casciano area has been making dazzlingly pure and refined wines, rivaling those from the most highly-praised terroir within Chianti Classico. The 2022 vintage is another amazing achievement, bursting with intoxicating aromas of rosewater, sweet and airy red cherry, cinnamon, and balsam herbs. Almost Burgundian in style, with a gamey touch complicating to suave and succulent red fruits to the core, it flows on the palate with uncommon elegance, finishing savory and remarkably nuanced.

Importers and retailers: Banville Wine Merchants (New York, US) / Vinello (Texas, US) / Swig (UK) 

Montecalvi – Chianti Classico 2021

Subzone: Greve

Talented winemaker, Tim Manning, oversees a tiny four-hectare estate that may easily become one of the appellation’s rising stars. The nose is downright intoxicating: pine resin, earl gray tea and redcurrant suggest extraction has been managed incredibly well. 25% whole bunches add to its fruitiness and airiness while a mineral tang ensures enough depth to make it also suitable for medium-term cellaring.

Four stars plus **** +

Importers and retailers: Milestone Wines (UK)

Poggerino – Chianti Classico 2022

Subzone: Radda

Poggerino is one of the most consistent wineries that haven’t yet achieved cult status. The wines are super-pure and light on their feet: here you get an amazing mix of raspberries, laurel and iron, leading to a charming palate that is razor-sharp and mineral-inflected without being too gritty. Blood orange and tart redcurrants echo on the moreish finish.

Importers and retailers: Volio Imports (United States) / Alberello Wines (United States) / Lea & Sandeman (UK) 

L’ Erta di Radda – Chianti Classico 2022

Subzone: Radda 

When the name of the winery corresponds to that of a subzone, you are likely to get a textbook expression of that specific terroir. It is the case with this lovely wine that stands out as especially fragrant and ethereal for the vintage. Subtle yet attractive aromas of violets, anise, licorice and blood orange anticipate a slim and attractively austere palate with a savory, mouthwatering finish. 

Importers and retailers: North Berkeley Imports (United States) / BC Liquor (British Columbia, Canada)

Four stars ****

Podere La Villa – Chianti Classico Pargolo 2022

This little-known estate is run by Ilaria Tachis, the daughter of the late father of the Italian wine renaissance, Giacomo Tachis. Hailing from the San Casciano, it displays a delicate nose focusing on sweet raspberries, sour cherries, laurel, and violets. Aging in used French oak imparts a little spiciness without compromising the pure, red-fruited progression. Ripe acidity and a savory tang linger on the supple and energetic finish.

Importers and retailers: —

Terra di Seta – Chianti Classico 2022

Subzone: Vagliagli

Not only this small winery shines a light on the little-known Vagliagli subzone: it is also one of the few holding a kosher certification. Sourced from vineyards lying 600 meters above sea level, this has a delicate, almost whispered nose of wild strawberries, thyme, and rose petals. Vibrant and red-fruited, with a herbal tang adding further freshness, it is an especially distinctive wine evoking a place within the denomination that is still overlooked and different from anything else.

Importers and retailers: Vias Wine (United States) / Kosher Wine (UK)