Location: Ridgewood, NY
Chianti Classico (My top picks from recent vintages)
Going all the way back to the beginning, before culinary school, wine courses and even before I knew that Barolo existed, there was Chianti. I believe a lot of Italian wine lovers start out in this same place. And why not, Chianti is branded into the hearts and minds of anyone who knows that Italy makes wine. I fondly remember a bottle of 1997 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale Oro, that I shared with my wife back when we were dating. It’s amazing how a good wine can impart itself into our memories and it’s certainly one of the reasons we love it so much.
What I’ve learned since that time is that Chianti Classico comes in many different styles and levels of quality. What’s more is that many great producers have abandoned the Chianti Classico designation to make Super Tuscans and fantasy labels. Many of these wines are incredible but not included in this list—this list for the diehard fan of Chianti Classico. There are nights that I literally crave a good Chianti. They are excellent food wines and pair great with pork, beef, smoked meats and game. Chianti Classico is also an amazing value and the best examples (such as Il Poggio, from Monsanto), have the ability to age for well over a decade.
But, you need to tread carefully, because there is a lot of Chianti out there and much of it isn’t worth your time. That’s why you have me, to taste through 90 bottles, and report my favorites back to you. Enjoy.