Eric Guido

Location: Ridgewood, NY

http://theviptable.blogspot.com/
Food and Wine Writer for Snooth Media, Chef, Musician, Poet, Wine Lover, and Workaholic. Owner, Chef and Writer for The V.I.P. Table.

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.

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Castello di Monsanto Sangiovese Blend Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio (2006)
Comments: The 2006 Il Poggio was Tuscany personified as aromas of animal musk, spice, wild berries and forest notes wafted up from the glass. On the palate, this wine showed wild red berries and autumnal notes with a mouth-feel of pure silk. The finish was long in sour berry and spice.
Previously available for $39.99
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2 Castello di Volpaia Sangiovese Blend Chianti Classico (2008)
Comments: The nose showed red berries, animal musk, herbs and a hint of eraser. On the palate, it was juicy with red fruits, cedar and inner floral notes. The long, lingering finish showed sour fruits and silky tannin. This 100% Sangiovese was highly enjoyable.
Previously available for $19.99
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3 Fattoria di Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia (2008)
Comments: The ’08 Rancia was unexpectedly open at this young age. The nose showed red berries, cocoa powder and deep floral notes. On the palate, it was open and juicy with red berry fruits. The finish showed more of structure I was expecting. This is a fine example of Rancia that (in this year’s case) is more open in its youth than the Fontalloro. (Fattoria di Felsina was awarded the “Snail” symbol by Slow Wine, representing a winery that they “particularly like for the way it interprets Slow Food values.”)
Average price: $47.95 from 5 stores
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4 Querciabella Chianti Classico (2006)
Comments: The nose showed like a basket of ripe wild berries, concentrated yet refined with floral notes and chrushed dried leaves. On the palate, I found rich cherry fruit and spice with a bit of orange peel. The finish was long yet kept things fresh. Now with a few years of age on it, this turned out to be a highly enjoyable glass of chianti, a little ripe but excellent all the same.
Previously available for $29.99
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5 Agricola San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva Il Grigio (2007)
Comments: The nose showed animal musk and dusty black cherry. On the palate, I found vibrant strawberry fruit, spice and earthy minerals. This wine is well structured and has great balance. It was a pleasure to drink.
Average price: $19.59 from 9 stores
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6 Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva (2007)
Comments: 2007 Tenuta di Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva La Forra (Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico) 9/14/2011 Eric Guido 91 The nose showed red and black berries, yet was savory as well with cured meats and hard Italian cheeses. On the palate, I found a saturating yet juicy amount of dark red fruit. The finish was long and palate coating.
Average price: $22.59 from 1 store
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7 Bibbiano Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna del Capannino (2008)
Comments: The nose showed plum with rich cherry, cedar, and with time in the glass, minty herbs. On the palate, it was soft with ripe berries, herbs and sweet spice notes caressing the senses. Lingering notes of sweet berry and soft tannin lasted through the finish.
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8 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale Oro (2004)
Comments: Dark ruby red color with aromas of dried plums and hints of blueberry followed by leather, oak and a bit of gingersnap. The palate was lush with vibrant acidity showing cranberry and sweet cherry, a bit of cinnamon and milk chocolate. Finishes long with more cranberry and citrus rind. Wow. An unexpected and wonderful performance.
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