Chianti Classico Collection: fantastic 2016 and difficult 2017

Also Chianti Classico has a “primeur season”, just like Bordeaux. But in Chianti Classico it is perhaps even more interesting because most of the wines are actually finished and bottled, and not the barely-finished-fermenting wines (with some exaggeration) that are shown in Bordeaux, which often have another one or two years in barrel in front of them. Most recently, Chianti Classico presented the vintages 2016 and 2017, two very different vintages, one magnificent vintage and one that offered many challenges. BKWine Magazine’s Åsa Johansson tasted most of the 731 wines that were on the tables and she gives you her selection of the best.

The Chianti Classico Collection in Florence in February  offers two days of diving in Chianti Classico’s new vintages. Two hundred and fifty journalists from thirty different countries did their best to taste 731 labels from 197 producers.

2016 on top

At the tastings of the Chianti Classico’s new vintages in Florence in February 2019 it is clear what fantastic quality the area’s wines have today. The 2016 vintage is the best since many years. It has elegance, complexity and amazing fruit. Many wines from 2016 have a seductive balance that shows how skilled the area’s winemakers are today and how well they know their terroir.

The vintage can be described as classic. There were great temperature differences between day and night during the summer. It was a dry summer but without extreme temperatures. Some welcome rain arrived in late August and early September with perfect timing.

A view over the landscape in Tuscany with a church

A view over the landscape in Tuscany with a church, copyright BKWine Photography

2017 with challenges

In contrast, the hopes of being pleasantly surprised by the 2017 vintage were very few. The year was the warmest and driest in memory and the production was one third less than normal. Not unexpectedly, most have had problems keeping the fruit in the wines and it has been difficult to avoid blunt tannins. But there are exceptions, more than I thought. Once again, this shows how skilled some producers are today.

Positive figures for Chianti Classico

The largest market for Chianti Classico is the USA, which increased its imports by 1 percent compared to 2018 and today takes 34 percent of the production of Chianti Classico. In second place we have Italy, which buys 23 percent of the total production. This year’s big news was that the third place, the third largest market, goes to Canada, which accounts for 11 percent, an increase of 3 percentage points compared to 2018.

According to many, the upswing in Canada is probably due to the work of the newly created Chianti Classico ambassadors in the country. Their task is to market the area’s wines and to spread knowledge of the area’s wines. It seems they have done a good job. The Scandinavian countries take 5 percent of the production, as much as the UK.

Chianti Classico to be divided?

Today, they are seriously talking about dividing the Chianti Classico into smaller sub-zones to better reflect the different terroirs in Chianti Classico. The consortium’s new CEO, Giovanni Manetti, from Fontodi in Panzano in Chianti, seems to have the ambition to have the division completed as soon as possible. It will be exciting to follow this development in the future.

Chianti Classico Collection wines

Chianti Classico Collection wines, copyright A Johansson

Tasting Comments

For two days you have the possibility to taste 731 different wines. As you can understand, I have had to make a selection. I have tried to include wineries with different philosophies and of different sizes from all of the nine different municipalities in Chianti Classico. The name of the municipality is noted after the name of the winery.

First off is the difficult 2017.

Chianti Classico DOCG 2017

My favourites of Chianti Classico DOCG 2017:

Castello di Ama, Gaiole in Chianti

A refreshing acidity, aromas of peonies and rosé pepper, lots of tannins but also plenty of fruit, ripe cherries, medium length. Good!

Vignamaggio, Terre di Prenzano (barrel sample), Greve in Chianti

Mint, liquorice, ripe raspberries, full-bodied, soft tannins, juicy, good but drink now.

Antinori, Peppoli, San Casciano in Val di Pesa

Full-bodied, rounded, ripe fruit, rounded tannins, a low-key but good 2017.

Monte Bernardi, Retromarcia (barrel sample), Greve in Chianti, Panzano

Very spicy, black and white pepper, fresh cherries in the background, complex aromas, juicy taste with well- retained fruit and acidity, liquorice, cherry, peppery, soft tannins but fresh and juicy, very good!

Monteraponi (barrel sample), Radda in Chianti

The wine smells of ripe cherries, thyme, salmiak, lavender, elegant but tangible tannins, finely preserved fruit and a long fine finish. Very good.

Cinciano, Poggibonsi

Lavender, floral tones, Mediterranean herbs, youthful impression, ripe fruit, high tannins but integrated, medium acidity, give a rich impression.

Castello di Volpaia, Radda in Chianti

Inviting nose of cherries and sweet spices, herbs, rosemary, medium-plus tannins, high acidity, tangible but elegant tannins, a classic Chianti Classico when it is really good!

I Fabbri, Greve in Chianti, Lamole

Lovely freshness, sage, wild cherry aromas, high acidity, elegant tannins, light, long juicy finish, a wine from the village of Lamole which is at 600 meters altitude, which certainly made a difference the hot 2017 summer.

Oliviera, Castelnuovo di Beradenga

Ripe cherries, leather tones, ripe soft tannins, very rounded, lots of fruit, toned-down acidity. Easy to drink and a wine for those who enjoy richer versions of Chianti Classico with rounded tannins.

Querceto di Castellina, Castellina in Chianti

Sweet spice, cinnamon, leather, vanilla, roses, fine acidity in the background, soft tannins and well-preserved fruit. A Chianti Classico in international style of high class.

Barone Ricasoli (barrel sample), Gaiole in Chianti

Ripe blackberries, leather, sweet ripe fruit, tall but fine tannins that now stick to the inside of the palate (barrel sample), high acidity, needs more time but all components are there. Bodes well.

Chianti Classico Collection sommeliers

Chianti Classico Collection sommeliers, copyright A Johansson

Chianti Classico DOCG 2016

Casanova di Bricciano, Gaiole in Chianti

Lovely inviting scents of sweet spice, cinnamon, violet, cardamom, cedar, sage and elements of oak, ripe well-preserved fruit, raspberries, strawberry, high acidity, soft tannins. Very good.

Fattoria Cigliano di Sopra, San Casciano in Val di Pesa

Classic lovely sangiovese nose with lots of cherries and medicinal herbs, juicy but with gripping tannins and high acidity, a Chianti Classico for anyone who enjoys a classic and not too flattering sangiovese.

Isole Olena, Barberino

Subdued nose, hints of oak barrels, leather, pepper, roses, cardamom, full-bodied, lots of tannins but elegant, high acidity, integrated components, great delightful finish. Very good.

La Quercia Seconda, San Casciano in Val di Pesa

Spicy, leather, china bark, ripe lingonberry, well-preserved fruit, low key but says in there, sweet spices like cinnamon and cardamom mixed with fresh fruit, cherries, elegant tannins, long finish. Very good, easy to drink where no element takes over.

Lamole di Lamole, Eticchetta Bianca, Greve in Chianti, Lamole

Intense violet nose, in the background light elements of oak barrels, deliciously juicy, fruit-driven, low tannins, medium-high acidity, light, very good!

Nittardi, Belcanto, Castellina in Chianti

Ripe cherries, lavender, dried rose petals, leather, dried fruit, walnut, lots of tannins held up by a medium-high acidity, full-bodied, medium-length finish.

Nittardi, Vigna Doghessa, Castellina in Chianti

Ripe sweet cherries, inviting intense fragrance, the oak is there but is well integrated, full-bodied, lots of tannins that will become softer, a wine that will only get better with time, balanced, medium acidity that supports from below, full-bodied, long finish with nice elements of sweet, ripe fruit.

Podere Cianfanelli, Greve in Chianti

Ripe fruit, cherries and plums, some rustic aromas, notes of pepper, a lot of oak and tannins from the barrels. This is a young producer who should trust that the raw material is sufficient also without oak and aim for a more fresh style. However, promises well for the future.

Poggerino, Radda in Chianti

Herbal, liquorice, ripe raspberries and cherries, lavender, violet, complex aromas, an explosion of flavours in the mouth without any component taking over. Well-integrated, very present tannins, ripe fruit and medium-high acidity, great finish. A great wine.

Poggio al Sole, Tavernelle Val di Pesa

Intense fruit-driven aromas, sweet ripe raspberries, strawberry, wonderfully understated-sweet sweet spice from oak barrels in the background that rounds off without taking over, full-bodied, high nice acidity, fresh finish with lots of ripe fruit keeps all the way. Very good.

Quercia al Poggio, Barberino

Ripe plums, violet, deep medium-intense aromas, cedar, spice from oak barrels, well-behaved tannins, medium-high acidity, ripe fruit. Well made.

Terreno, Greve in Chianti

Very fine aromas of cherry, ripe blackberries, cedar, sage and thyme, elegant fruit, feel light but tannins and acidity are there. A very food-friendly wine.

Cantina Ripoli, Barberino Val di Elsa

Aromas with a lot of cherries, slightly rustic, youthful, fruit-driven, super-juicy with hints of salt, a lot of cherries, raspberries, strawberry, fresh finish, medium acidity. Very good!

Fontodi, Greve in Chianti, Panzano

Ripe raspberries and cherries, elements of chocolate and cedar wood, complex and small-scale, elegant tannins and acidity, medium length elegant finish.

Vineyards in Tuscany

Vineyards in Tuscany, copyright BKWine Photography

Chianti Classico Riserva 2016

Istine, Le Vigne (barrel sample), Radda in Chianti

Lingonberry, cherry, sage, thyme, wonderfully well-balanced, tall elegant tannins, cherries, hints of dried fruit, long elegant finish, great wine!

Cigliano, San Casciano in Val di Pesa

Fruit-driven, inviting aromas of sweet cherries, wonderful high-strung acidity that vibrates in the background, youthful, sage, medicinal herbs, China bark, ripe fruit, ripe cherries, and light elegant tannins in the background. A favorite!

Cinciano, Poggibonsi

Deep ruby red, ripe fruit, sweet cherries, lots of tannins mixed up with the mature fruit and a medium-high acidity. All elements are there but would need some years to develop.

Monteraponi (barrel sample) Il Campitello, Radda in Chianti

Smells of blue plums, liquorice, cedar, peppery notes and every time you put your nose in the glass you will find something new. In the mouth it is juicy with elegant long tannins, salty, cardamom, deep flavoursome notes but at the same time it retains a lightness that is difficult to resist. Cherries and plums are there too, a wine that plays on elegance and not on strength.

Oliviera, Settantanove, Castelnuovo di Berardenga

Aromas with ripe fruit, a touch of alcohol, sweet strawberries, vanilla, walnuts, warm, soft tannins, lots of fruit.

Poggerino, Bugialla, Radda in Chianti

Ripe plums, dried fruits, roasted hazelnuts, herbaceous, sage and thyme, low-key but complex, very noticeable tannins, ripe fruit, medium-high acidity with long elegant finish. Fantastically good.

Chianti Classico must at Barone Ricasoli

Chianti Classico must at Barone Ricasoli, copyright BKWine Photography

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2016

Castello di Ama, San Lorenzo, Gaiole in Chianti

Dried rose petals, potpourri, soft elegant tannins, lots of fruit, elegant and silky in the mouth with lovely notes of ripe fruit.

Castello di Fonterutoli, Castellina in Chianti

Rich and balanced, raisins, ripe cherries, elements of tar and potpourri, soft tannins, integrated fruit and oak barrels, well-behaved and reliable.

Villa Calcinaia, Vigna Contessa Luisa, Greve in Chianti

Intense complex aromas, deep, ripe red fruit, raspberries, cherries, cedar and mint, deliciously ripe fruit, salt and white pepper, with elegant but tangible tannins, all elements in balance, long intense finish, very, very good!

Poggio al Sole, Casasilia, Tavernelle Val di Pesa

Lovely aromas of ripe fruit, ripe strawberries and violet, lovely acidity in the background, well-preserved fruit but at the same time tight with super-elegant tannins, long finish, very good!

Åsa Johansson is BKWine’s person in Italy. She lives in Florence since the early ’00s. Asa writes regularly on wine and food in Swedish and Italian publications as well as online.

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