Whittling down a list to 10 top producers is always difficult and is bound to disappoint some folks. Heck, even I’m a little disappointed, my favorite producer of sub-$100 Brunello didn’t make the list. What a crummy wine dude author!
Of course, that producer’s Brunello is one penny under my pricing threshold if I’m lucky, so it was an obvious omission to make. I’ve tried to be fair here but keep in mind that this list represents the wines that I buy.
I love Sangiovese, it is one of the two most frequently consumed wines in my life, but I don’t love them all!
Photo courtesy zesser via Flickr/CC
Montevertine produces a line of superbly elegant wines that express the delicate, soil-driven side of Sangiovese. Their line-up includes:
Pian del Ciampolo – Fruity and crisp young vine Sangiovese with some Colorino.
Montevertine Riserva – The equivalent of a very fine Chianti Classico Riserva featuring Colorino and Canaiolo in the blend.
Il Sodaccio - A single vineyard wine whose production has been paused since 1998 as the vineyard has been replanted, the young vines are currently part of Ciampolo.
Pergole Torte – The flagship wine and one of the great Super Tuscans. 100% Sangiovese and a riveting, Burgundian expression of the grape
Felsina produces a richer and perhaps more typical expression of Chianti with a bit of chewy rusticity common in the wines until quite recently. Even today, these retain some dried fruit and leathery characteristics. Their line-up, all produced exclusively from Sangiovese, includes:
Berardenga Chianti Classico – A bit of a bruiser for a Chianti Classico, rich and nicely structured.
Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva - A lovely floral, mineral and spice-driven Riserva.
Berardenga Chianti Classico Rancia Riserva – Rancia is almost always richer than the Berardenga and a little softer with more of a new oak cast to the wine.
Fontalloro – Earthy, rich and powerful, Fontalloro is a classic Sangiovese bottling that speaks as much of Tuscany as it does Sangiovese.
Insider’s tip: Felsina makes stunning Vin Santo. Let them age for a decade to catch them at their peak.
San Giusto a Rentennano
A small winery with a very big reputation! San Giusto produces what is arguably the finest modern Sangiovese Super Tuscan made: Percarlo. The wines all feature remarkable purity of fruit. Their line-up includes:
Chianti Classico – Pure and precise, a wine with excellent balance between fruit and structure.
Chianti Classico Riserva Le Baroncole – A slightly more modern interpretation of Chianti, showing lovely austere fruit buttressed by a bit of oak ageing.
Percarlo – Intensely pure Sangiovese fruit that has a fairly important oak overlay, but with time the fruit blossoms and dominates the wine and your palate. As good as Sangiovese gets.
Selvapiana’s fame rests mostly on the shoulders of a single wine, their Chianti Classico Riserva Bucerchiale. This single vineyard Chianti reflects the past with its lean, austere streak, as well as the present with its purity of fruit and evolution into a remarkable clear and clean wine. I love the combination! Their line-up includes:
Chianti Rufina – A classic Chianti, lighter styled and fresh with real snap and length.
Chianti Rufina Riserva Bucerchiale – What more can be said about this, one of the world’s greatest wine values? It’s pure, sapid, fruit-driven Chianti that is a unique expression of site and varietal. Long lived and just absolutely delicious, not to mention cheap!
Castellare di Castellina
Castellare somehow continues to fly a bit under the radar of most wine lovers. I think it’s because this is a house where the austerity of Sangiovese is celebrated. The wines can be a bit tough for some palates, but pair these with the right food and they can be magical. Their line-up includes:
Chianti Classico - This sees more wood ageing than many Chianti Classicos and as a result it has a softness and roundness that sets it apart.
Chianti Classico Riserva – Just as the CC is a step up from the ordinary, this Riserva tends to be one of the top picks from great vintages. Clear and transparent, yet with a suppleness of texture that eludes many producers.
Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggiale – Here we find a more powerful CCR that sees more time in oak, and more new oak at that. I’m not sure that it is a better wine than the classic CCR, but it is impressive.
I Sodi di San Niccolo – Another brilliant wine, one of the best Super Tuscans. Typically 85% Sangiovese and 15% Malvasia Nera, this is rich and powerful yet sinewy and gorgeously aromatic. A really distinctive and delectable Sangiovese!