On the Road with the Grape Guy

On the Road with the Grape Guy is a on-going feature that follows me from event to event ... I post my thoughts, feelings and reviews of what happened and what I tasted ... basically it is here that I review the events I attend and the things that thrilled me.

Chianti Classico - Step 1 : Chianti Classico

21 Jul 2023

(February 2023) ... This might be the bottom rung on the ladder, but this is the calling card of the region, so you better be able to make a good one. I focused much of my days on step two and three on the ladder (Riserva & Gran Selezione), but I did want to get a look at the basics to get an idea about the vintage. My notes capture an array of wines from the years 2018 to 2021 with the top scoring wines being from '20 and '21.

There were also some barrel samples that I scored for potential: Good / Better / Best. In all, 68 Chianti Classicos were tasted ... not all wines have notes.


Brancaia 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG
A nice wine with good structure and elegance, lots of darker fruit - a pleasant weekend wine ... (****)

Fontodi 2020 Chianti Classico DOCG - Filetta di Lamole
Really nice juicy red fruit and dusty tannins; balanced off with a lovely acidity ... (****)

Rocca delle Macie 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG
Raspberry and cherry lead this off - it's fresh with good cleansing acidity; ready for the next bite? ... (****)

THREE-and-a-HALF PLUS Star Wines

Banfi 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG
--- Easy drinking with good acidity, nice red fruit, and delicate on the tongue
Cantalici 2018 Chianti Classico DOCG
Castello Vicciomaggio 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG - Guado Alto
--- Fragrant with red fruit and hints of cigar box on the finish
Fattoria Le Fonti 2019 Chianti Classico DOCG
--- Dark chocolate cherries - need I say more?
Fattoria Santo Stefano 2020 Chianti Classico DOCG - Santo Stefano
Tenuta Villa Trasqua 2019 Chianti Classico DOCG - Villa Trasqua
Terre di Melazzano 2020 Chianti Classico DOCG - Chiandre
Tolani 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG - Vallenuova
--- Light and fresh, red fruit dominates: cherry and raspberry with balancing acidity
Torcilacqua 2020 Chianti Classico DOCG 

THREE-and-a-HALF Star Wines

Badia a Coltibuono 2020 Chianti Classico DOCG
Borgo la Stella 2019 Chianti Classico DOCG
Carpineto 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG
Castello di Ama 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG - Ama
Castello di Gabbiano 2020 Chianti Classico DOCG
Castello di Volpaia 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG - Volpaia
Collazzi 2020 Chianti Classico DOCG - I Bastioni
Fattoria Le Masse 2019 Chianti Classico DOCG - Le Masse
Losi Querciavalle 2020 Chianti Classico DOCG - Querciavalle
Monteraponi 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG
Ricasoli 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG - Brolio
San Felice 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG
--- Dark and flavourful with a nice punch on the finish


Castello di Monsanto 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG  ... (Better)
Teniuta di Arceno 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG  ... (Better)

Caparsa 2020 Chianti Classico DOCG  ... (Good)
Collazzi 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG - I Bastioni  ... (Good)
Gagliole 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG - Rubiolo  ... (Good)
Le Filigare 2021 Chianti Classico DOCG - Filigare  ... (Good)


The Pillars of Supertuscans

13 Jul 2023

(February 2023) … Consorzio Vino Toscana was founded in 2018 to protect the name of Tuscan wines, namely those without a DOC or DOCG designation … in other words those deemed IGT. This is an area of Italian wine that has seen a growth of 126% over the last decade. And includes some 1400 IGT bottlers.

Toscana IGT is the 2nd most productive appellation and encompasses 77% red and 18% white, producing 95.5 million bottles or 145 million dollars in sales: 67% of which are exported and 31% consumed domestically. They represent 13,500 hectares, an output of 640,000 hL (on average).

Three grapes make up the pillars of SuperTuscan wines: Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. And although they started playing in this sandbox back in 1968, it was not until 1994 that the IGT designation was established. By then the names had become brands, which in turn sparked a revolution; the wines then became iconic in their own right ... No one seemed to care what varieties were being used – it was the wines that spoke for themselves.

Interesting to note as we look at the wines below – and this was pointed out by the moderataor (Gabriele Gorelli); wines ending in “ello” are Sangiovese based – wines ending in “aia” are Bordeaux-grape based.

The Showcase Wines …

Felsina 2018 Fontalloro    
Racy acidity, big tannins, with coffee beans, and a whole lotta oak. I’d say lie this down, but I’m not sure it will help.            

Marchesi Antinori 2018 TignanelloTignanello
(Sangiovese / Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc)
Tignanello is the top Italian wine on LivEx for fine wine – it’s a global brand and considered a Tuscan wine ambassador. The first vintage of this wine was in 1970.
Dark cherry, mocha, with a hint of floral; sweet tannins and a silky finish - really flavourful.

Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari 2018 Cabreo il Borgo
(Sangiovese / Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot)
First vintage 1982 … Very wood based with aggressive tannins, earthy, smoky, notes of cedar and smoky on the finish. Another one to lie down and let’s see where it goes.            

GiramonteFrescobaldi 2020 Giramonte
(85% Merlot / 15% Sangiovese)
First vintage 1999 … Here, there’s a silkiness in the mouth, but with aggressive tannins that want desperately to back away (with aeration), that’s a good thing. Dark and blue-ish fruit, nice herbal character along with some blood orange on the finish. Spicy as hell, with vanilla and coffee kicking around as well.            

Tenuta Sette Ponti 2018 Oreno    
(50% Merlot / 40% Cabernet Sauvignon / 10% Petit Verdot)
First vintage 1999 … Aggressive tannins and a ballsy structure; coffee, mocha, black cherry – really drying of the palate; but these are angles that seem to drive this wine in a variety of directions.            

Banfi 2019 ExcelsusBanif Excelsus
(47% Merlot / 53% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Banfi created their first Super-Tuscan in 1985 (Summus) … This is a leaner, more approachable SuperT with a nice finish; there’s blackberry and cassis, herbal and notes of minerality; plus fresh acidity to clean everything out.            

Tenuta San Guido 2020 Guidalberto
(60% Cabernet Sauvignon / 40% Merlot)
First vintage 2000 … dry and round in the mouth, fruit is dried and dipped in balsamic. It’s young, so the wood dominates now, but there is also plenty of plush dark fruit, subtle balsamic & spice notes with the tannins nipping playfully. The acidity is on-point and the finish is long – this should turn opulent with time.       
AlbolaCastello di Albola 2018 Acciaiolo
(100% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Plenty of acidity here as it comes from a cool climate location: smoky, spicy, and forest floor – with salty/mineral, fine tannins and a dry finish. Feels older than it is.

Casanova di Neri 2019 Pietradonice
(100% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Coffee and black cherry dominate, but this is also smoky and black olive, all with some concentrated dark fruit and aggressive tannins; but they also integrate so well with time.


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