From €20.67, $21.99, £14.95, 1,490 roubles, AU$48
I strongly believe that good-quality, standard-issue Chianti Classico is one of the world’s great wine treasures. It’s so appetising and such a great partner for food that it needs more love – not least because the advent of this silly Gran Selezione supposedly superior category threatens to downgrade regular Chianti Classico. And, as Walter has often pointed out, even Chianti Classico Riserva is not necessarily so much better than Chianti Classico itself – just more concentrated and longer-lived. But I think what I treasure particularly about Chianti Classico is its ability to deliver great drinkability fairly early on in its life.
You can read about the unusually early, warm vintage of 2011 in the Chianti Classico hills of Tuscany in this detailed report from Monte Bernardi. The vintage conditions may not have been the easiest for growers and in some cases overripe, shrivelled berries had to be sorted out, but they seem to have resulted in some very attractive wines from superior addresses.
I really enjoyed Riecine 2011 Chianti Classico. About it I wrote, ‘Light crimson. Round and gentle. This seems like a really pure expression of terroir in post-new-barrique style. Very well judged.’ I gave it 16.5 out of 20 and thought its drinking window is probably 2013-18. In the UK, Tanners of Shrewsbury have a special offer of it at £14.95 if you buy three bottles (regular price £16.95). This is really an excellent price for such an accommodatingly expressive, super-healthy wine that could already be enjoyed. The wine is also available by the single bottle from The Winemakers Club on Farringdon Road in London, that rather damp, atmospheric site under Holborn Viaduct that used to be an Oddbins, managed by my friend and fellow wine writer Sarah Ahmed, who wrote to me rather crossly when I wrote an article preducting the demise of Oddbins. At this interesting new treasure trove for wine lovers, it costs £22 per single bottle but is currently available by the glass from their Enomatic wine preserver in their wine bar. Check out the tasting possibilities here.
You can read detailed background about this beautiful all-Sangiovese Gaiole property and what its English winemaker gets up to at the extremely informative www.riecine.it, from which our image was taken. This 2011 vintage will have been aged in some combination of used barriques, larger oak and concrete, but I see that from the 2012 vintage they have gone over to cement tanks – very à la mode! It is particularly easy to find in Russia (and Ukraine) because, I am told, there is now Russian involvement in the ownership of this wine estate founded in the early 1970s on the basis of a small vineyard bought from nearby Badia a Coltibuono by British ad-man John Dunkley.
I have also been very impressed by the much more concentrated Fèlsina Berardenga 2011 Chianti Classico, although it is not cheap and I think it needs keeping a while. And Fontodi 2011 Chianti Classico is another sure-fire winner for those who like their Chianti Classico with lots of pzazz and a hint of barrique ageing. About the Fontodi I wrote, ‘meat, veg and real interest on the nose. Solid and confident. Set for the long term. Masses of acidity.’ I gave it 16.5 out of 20 and reckoned it would be a fine drink any time this decade. Like most 2011 Chianti Classicos, it is 14.5% but does not seem over-burdened by alcohol.