Gran Selezione Tasting Notes: Exploring the Pinnacle of Chianti Classico Wine

Chianti Classico Collection 2024 -Tasting Note - Gran Selezione: elegantly labeled wine bottles in rich, deep red hu deep red hues

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

CULT WINERIES

Five stars – top wines *****

Querciabella

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2019

Subzone: Greve

With only 4,000 bottles produced, the Gran Selezione is the most elusive and precious wine of this world-famous winery that pioneered biodynamics and vegan wine production in Tuscany. The 2019 is also the best rendition so far, mixing the refinement and purity of fruit Querciabella is known for with a depth only achievable in top-notch vintages. A whiff of balsamic oak frames blackcurrants, white musk, and pot-pourri, anticipating an intoxicating palate laced with the essence of crunchy raspberries, blood orange, and minerals. Seamless and pure, it will drink well with minimal cellaring but also has the right credentials to age gracefully.

Importers and retailers: Maison Marques and Domains (United States) / Armit Wine (UK) / Bonvida Wines (Canada)

Five stars 

Monteraponi

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Bragantino 2019

Subzone: Radda

Compared to the entry-level Chianti Classico from this revered estate, this first attempt to Gran Selezione shows a bit more power and depth: layers of forest floor, botanical herbs, dark spice and a touch of cocoa powder emerge with coaxing. Extra aging imparts a little oak spice and softens the tannins yet this remains true to its austere Radda identity, with crisp acidity and mineral undertones shaping a sumptuously fresh and racy progression.

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

Four stars plus **** +

Castello di Monsanto

Chianti Classico Il Poggio Gran Selezione 2019

Subzone: San Donato in Poggio

Even before becoming a great Gran Selezione, Il Poggio was one of the best single-vineyard Chianti Classico Riserva. The style didn’t change much in the transition: it remains a beautifully Mediterranean and captivatingly open-knit wine with no evident oak influence. Sporting lively aromas of wild fennel, laurel and fresh redcurrants, it is concentrated yet light on its feet, with well-integrated tannins framing the juicy red fruits to the core, hints of garrigue and blood orange energizing the long finish. 

Importers and retailers:  Freixenet Mionetto (US), BC Liquor (British Columbia, Canada)

Carpineta Fontalpino

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Vigna Montaperto 2019

Subzone: Castelnuovo Berardenga 

Carpineta Fontalpino’s Gioia Cresti is one of those producers who transformed their single-vineyard Annata into a Gran Selezione by simply letting them rest for longer. Vigna Montaperto has benefited considerably from the extended aging, and it comes across as less oak-influenced than in the past, mixing decadent red fruits and pot-pourri with iron, leather, and tar. Creamy and broad as it is typical of the Castelnuovo Berardenga subzone, it still retains lovely focus and lift, thanks to lingering echoes of blood orange and iodine. 

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

Conti Capponi

Chianti Classico Contessa Luisa Villa Calcinaia Gran Selezione 2020

Subzone: Montefioralle

Conti Capponi is the estate that most wholeheartedly focuses on Gran Selezione in the tiny Montefioralle subzone. Among its three crus, Contessa Luisa is the most attractive, pouring charming scents of red cherries, licorice, graphite, and a whiff of undergrowth. This shows noteworthy balance, with chiseled tannins and bright acids wrapped in a creamy veil of ripe red fruits, leading to a long and polished finish. 

Importers and retailers: Pio Imports (United States) / Nicholas Pearce Wines (Canada) / Cava Spiliadis (UK) 

Felsina

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Colonia 2020

Subzone: Castelnuovo Berardenga 

Ranking among the most expensive Gran Selezione, this offering by one of the true icons of Chianti Classico has always had the ambition to compete with top Supertuscans. Spending multiple years in new French oak barrels, it unavoidably shows hints of vanillin and roasted coffee that still don’t camouflage the earthy and dark-fruited imprinting of Castelnuovo Berardenga. Dense but also surprisingly energetic, refreshing acidity cuts through creamy layers of slightly confit black fruits, leading to a simultaneously bold and steely finish.

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

Fontodi

Chianti Classico Terrazze San Leonino Gran Selezione 2020

Subzone: Panzano

This is a recent addition in the lineup of one of the most iconic estates from Chianti Classico. Aged in a mix of small and large oak, it conveys the power of Panzano, with a kiss of oak framing dark cherries, tobacco, and quinine. Powerful but not heavy, imposing tannins backbone thick layers of dark cherries, while cooling acids and a mentholated whiff add a touch of elegance to the long finish.

Importers and retailers: Vinifera Imports (United States) / Rogers and Company (Ontario, Canada)

Four stars ****

Rocca di Castagnoli

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Stielle 2019

Subzone: Gaiole

From a high-altitude vineyard in the closest portion to the Chianti mountain chain of Gaiole township, Stielle has a seductively deep and dark nose, with pomegranate, leather, iron, and menthol. Savory and youthfully tight, with imposing tannins allied to piercing acidity and earthy undertones, it needs a couple years of cellaring to show its real potential.

Importers and retailers: Regal Wine Imports (United States) 

Nittardi

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2020

Subzone: Castellina

The inaugural Gran Selezione of this renowned winery comes from a corner of the appellation that is bound between Castellina and Panzano. The style is undeniably rich and powerful – almost a bit Supertuscan-reminiscing – with an attractive array of blackberries, cocoa powder, forest floor, menthol, and tar. Equally bold on the palate, steely minerals and lively acidity support the full structure, while vigorous tannins leave a dusty impression on the finish featuring refreshing hints of licorice and oriental spice. 

Importers and retailers: Arte e Vino (Florida, US), Spirited Wines ( Massachussets, US) , ABS (UK)

BIG WINERIES

Five stars – top wines *****

Ricasoli

Chianti Classico Colledilà Gran Selezione 2020

Subzone: Gaiole

Francesco Ricasoli pioneered Gran Selezione by producing three single-vineyard examples that are concentrated and polished without being too modern. Among them, Colledilà is usually the stunner, bursting with decadent aromas of cherry jam and sandalwood, followed by iron, leather, and a spicy whiff. Still youthfully tight in this stage, the oak presence is seamlessly integrated. Chiseled tannins support a long and succulent finish featuring blood orange and a lick of sweet spice.

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

Five stars *****

Castello di Fonterutoli

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Vicoregio 36 2021

Subzone: Castelnuovo Berardenga 

From a vineyard planted to 36 different clones of Sangiovese, this is an example of a former Supertuscan that became a Gran Selezione in recent vintages. Bramble fruits, licorice, pot-pourri and a whiff of oak spice anticipate a lively and layered palate that needs a bit of extra aging to fully come together, with typically dusty Castelnuovo Berardenga tannins upfront, some oak influence, but also plenty of luscious fruit smoothing the long and ultra-polished finish.

Importers and retailers: Demeine Estates (United States), Maison Marques et Domaines (UK)

Four stars plus **** +

Dievole

Chianti Classico Vigna Sessina Gran Selezione 2020

Subzone: Vagliagli 

This is always one of the most distinctive single-vineyard Selezione, hailing from a sun-kissed but also relatively high (420 meters a.s.l) plot in the Vagliagli subzone, which sets Castellina apart from Castelnuovo Berardenga. Unusual aromas of daikon and medicinal herbs mingle with fresh raspberries and attractive floral nuances, echoing on an equally bright, mid-weight palate, finishing energetic and nuanced. 

Importers and retailers: Tenzing (US)

Rocca delle Macíe

Chianti Classico Sergio Zingarelli Gran Selezione 2020

Subzone: Castellina

Earth-tinged red cherry, geranium, dried herbs and a lick of chocolate shape the generous and exuberant profile of this Gran Selezione. Ripe and velvety but also possessing enough acidity to stay in balance, supple tannins support the rich core of seductively ripe red fruits, leading to a poised finish. 

Importers and retailers: Palm Bay Import (United States), British Columbia Liquor (Canada)

Four stars ****

Castello di Albola

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Il Solatio 2020

Subzone: Radda 

Solatìo means “sun-kissed slope”, and refers to the southeastern exposure of the vineyard, which lies between 550 and 580 meters above sea level. The wine is discrete and charming in this phase, slowly unveiling violets, redcurrants, dried herbs, oregano, and a touch of undergrowth. It epitomizes the Radda terroir with its racy, mouthwatering palate focusing on bright acidity and cheek-puckering tannins, leading to a long and balsamic finish.

Importers and retailers: 1821 Fine Wines (United States) / Zonin UK (UK) 

Villa Le Corti

Chianti Classico Don Tommaso Gran Selezione 2020 ****

Subzone: San Casciano

Aged in 500 and 700 liters tonneaux, this super-expressive Gran Selezione bursts with attractive scents of red apple and red cherries mingling with cinnamon, menthol, tobacco, and a kiss of spicy oak. Modern-style but also quite refined, with layers upon layers of slightly candied cherry fruit underpinned by vigorous tannins, a savory tang extends the long finish. 

Importers and retailers: Beaune Imports (United States) 

NATURAL WINE PRODUCERS

Five stars *****

I Fabbri

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2019

Subzone: Lamole

This wine is the epitome of a new style of Gran Selezione that blends the emphasis on drinkability of the Annata wines with the extra depth the higher positioning implies. What you get here is a charming – if delicate – succession of fragrant bramble fruits, violets, anise, white pepper, and iron. The amazing lightness and refreshing savory energy Lamole is known for take center stage on the palate, making for a slim and bracing progression that turns even more mineral-driven on the long finish.

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

Four stars plus **** +

Terreno

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione A Sofia 2020

Subzone: Greve

Sofia Ruhne sources fruit for this wine from 80-year-old vineyards, pursuing an uncompromising yet surgically precise winemaking style that allows to achieve excellent finesse. Redcurrant, white pepper and botanical herbs anticipate a mouthwatering, acidity-driven palate that is once austere and gentle, approachable but also layered enough to be suitable for cellaring.

Importers and retailers: Vintage 59 (United States)

UP-AND-COMING WINERIES

Five stars *****

Podere Il Palazzino

Chianti Classico Argenina Gran Selezione 2019

Subzone: Gaiole

This producer gave all other categories to solely focus on two Gran Selezione offerings, simply extending the maturation period of his two high-achieving single-vineyard wines. Among them, the Argenina is the most refined, coming from a plot lying on rather rare yellow tufa soils, which contribute to shaping a charming profile, starting out a bit woody and then turning floral, balsamic, and red-fruited. At once powerful and elegant, this is clearly built for cellaring, currently focusing on piercing acidity and imposing tannins that loosen their grip in a savory finish. 

Importers and retailers: Marc de Grazia Selections (United States) / Domaine Selections (Canada) 

Four stars plus **** +

Podere Castellinuzza

Chianti Classico Vecchie Vigne Gran Selezione 2018

Subzone: Lamole

Another solid showing from Lamole: the vintage further emphasize lightness and finesse, so what you get is almost Nebbiolo-ish mix of watermelon jelly, pomegranate, wild roses, and iron, leading to a mid-weight palate with seamless tannins and a just a touch of oak-derived sweet spice rounding out the edges. Ethereal and airy without being fragile, this may not be the most complex Gran Selezione but it is utterly delicious.

Importers and retailers:

Four stars ****

Castellinuzza e Piuca

Chianti Classico Vigna Piuca Gran Selezione 2019

Subzone: Lamole 

Yet another Riserva that was upgraded to Gran Selezione in this glorious vintage, Vigna Piuca displays one of the most distinctive noses,  with a touch of volatility amplifying rose petals, kirsch, tobacco, undergrowth, and pine resin. While it may appear slightly evolved at first, it proves brighter on the palate: bracing acids and serious tannins make for a quintessentially Lamole-style, refreshing progression, finishing savory and red-fruited. 

Importers and retailers: Oliver McCrum (United States) 

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