Historically the Riservas got the lion’s share of attention, not so much because they were necessarily better wines, but rather because they were both a selection of the best lots and benefitted from additional ageing. that ageing had it’s drawbacks as well. To my palate Sangiovese is not a grape that is particularly predisposed to benefiting from extended ageing in barrel. easy to oxidise and rather delicate, the aromas, flavors, and texture of sangiovese seem to prefer time in the bottle to time in the barrel.
 
Today what is going in the bottle, even at the basic chianti Classico level, has never been better. these wines have complexity and depth, retain Sangiovese characteristically austere tannins and acidic snap on the palate while showing off a depth of fruit that vintners a few decades ago could only have dreamed about. 
 
The vast majority of the wine tasted for this article were from the 2011 vintage, with a smattering of 2010s and 2012s included out of necessity. While perhaps not at the level of either the vintage that preceded it or the vintage that followed, 2011 is a fine vintage rich with fruit, from a rather warm year overall and a decidedly torrid August in particular that sped up the harvest and give some producers problems of balance. Fortunately even in August overnight low temperatures were in line with historical averages wso the grapes did retain balancing acidity. that acidity was vital in a vintage like 2011 where the grapes did suffer from dehydration, and in some cases sunburn as well leading to jammy and roasted flavors. 
 
Due to the wet winter and rains that fell during the summer the vines were able to handle the heat fairly well, but it did speed up the harvest, which was about three weeks ahead of schedule and the poor, thin soils in the Chianti Classico region did tend to dry up and retain the heat of the day to a larger extent than those of surrounding regions. The results are certainly interesting, and in many cases with these Chianti Classicos quite attractive. These are wines that are built, after all, on fruit not nuance, and a vintage like 2011 can supply plenty of fruit. 
 
Unfortunately many wines could only supply masses of fruit in 2011, and this lineup was, in the grand scheme of things, rather disappointing. The standouts were all delicious wines but I expected more from several of the producers. with 60 producers pouring at this stand I did have to pick and choose a bit, relying mostly on old favorites to taste from. Perhaps therein lies some of my disappointment. My expectations were high, and in all honesty I do love Chianti, but for all the wrong reasons when it comes to a vintage like 2011. I love Chianti for it’s light, fresh, zesty purity. Edgy little tannins, mouth watering acids. An affinity for food that is tough to beat. That’s my Chianti checklist, and only a handful of these wines checked all the boxes. 
 
So what’s the takeaway from this? By choosy with your purchases of 2011 Tuscans. There were wines with unripe tannin, low acids, and roasted fruit, none of which i want in my cellar. On the flip side there were some pretty terrific wines as well, so my best advice is that you probably don't need these wines, but will be able to buy many at a discount once the vintage is broadly distributed. I was fortunate to taste these wines early in their lives, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see them for much of the coming year, but they will be coming eventually, though sandwiched as they are between 2010 and 2012 I don’t think they will find much of a market.