Eric Guido

Location: Ridgewood, NY

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 (New releases and top picks)

With the start of each new year comes the myriad of Italian wine tastings that have become the highlight of these early winter months.  Each year, I find myself tasting the new releases of all my favorite wines.  One wine in particular always stands out to me, Chianti Classico.  

 

Thinking back over a decade, Chianti Classico was the wine that showed me that I loved Italian wine.  They are excellent food wines with gorgeous fruit, earth and that perfect blend of Italian acidity.  What's more, many of them can age in the cellar, yet nearly all of them are perfectly enjoyable upon release.  In my book, this is THE Italian wine, and it always will be.  The following list are my favorites tasted this year and you really can't go wrong with any of them.  Some are everyday value wines and others will find prestigious spots in your cellar.  There is something for everyone.

 

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Poggio Bonelli Chianti Classico Riserva (2008)
Comments: The nose was dark and spicy with red fruits and crushed fall leaves. On the palate, it was dark and brooding with rich, structured cherry and herbs. The finish showed palate-coating tannin with red berries and herbs. It was a highly enjoyable Chianti that should spend another three to five years in the cellar before tasting again.
Previously available for $29.99
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2 Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva (2009)
Comments: The nose was classic Monsanto Chianti, showing ripe strawberry, with hints of plum, barnyard, animal musk and a whiff chalky mineral. On the palate, it was silky with great balanced acidity lending juicy tones as concentrated red fruits and dried spices seduced the senses. The finish showed hints of refined tannin with tart fruit lingering through the close. As usual, this wine performs much better after an hour or two in decanter, lending a much better showing than any note I've taken at formal tastings. (91 points)
Average price: $20.99 from 24 stores
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3 Capannelle Chianti Classico Riserva (2007)
Comments: The nose showed intense, dark red fruits, hints of spiced cookie and inner floral notes. On the palate, I found raspberry and spice that started tart but turned juicy as it flowed through to a beautiful fruity finish, laced with floral tones.
Average price: $34.59 from 14 stores
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4 Fontodi Chianti Classico (2009)
Comments: The nose showed cherry sauce with Tuscan dust, spicy notes, hints of mushroom and citrus. On the palate, it was focused with refined red fruits and inner floral notes. The finish was clean with pure red fruits and hints of structure. This was easily one of the best entry-level Chianti I’ve tasted this year.
Average price: $34.79 from 15 stores
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5 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale Oro (2007)
Comments: The nose showed dark, spicy red fruits with hints of mint and floral undergrowth. On the palate, it was tight and densely packed with flavors of cherry, minerals and floral tones. The finish showed the wine’s structure as it turned lean and drying. I would put this in the cellar for another three to four years before tasting again.
Average price: $34.99 from 17 stores
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6 Querciabella Chianti Classico (2010)
Comments: The nose showed youthful cherry and spice with crushed fall leaves and a hint of cranberry. On the palate, it was rich yet balanced with refined structure and focused red fruits. The finish lingered on with notes of cranberry and fine tannin. This wine was just a baby and will likely be a stunner in another few years.
Average price: $29.99 from 13 stores
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7 Il Grigio da San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva (2009)
Comments: The nose showed dark red fruits with black cherry, blackberry and citrus, followed by hints of undergrowth and herbs. On the palate, I found ripe red berries, beautiful inner floral and herbal notes with a regal structure. The lasting finish was focused, giving a slow-motion playback of its performance on the palate.
Average price: $20.89 from 48 stores
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8 Agricola San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva Poggio Rosso (2008)
Comments: The nose showed dark red and black fruits with wood spice, intense florals and raspberry undertones. On the palate, I found tart cranberry and raspberry fruits and dark chocolate against structured, medium-bodied textures. The finish was spice and full of tart red fruits. This wine was very enjoyable on this day but should continue to mature beautifully for, at least, another ten to fifteen years.
Average price: $41.99 from 28 stores
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9 Rossi Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico (2008)
Comments: The nose was restrained and youthful showing cool red berry fruits, plum, woodsy notes and dusty spice. On the palate, I found tart red fruits and inner floral notes with a lean, medium body. Forget this bottle in the cellar for many years, and it should reward patience; otherwise decant and be prepared to wait.
Average price: $19.99 from 10 stores
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10 Querciabella Chianti Classico DOCG (2009)
Comments: The 2009 Querciabella was richer, darker and more forward than the ’10, showing red berries, wood spices and Tuscan dust. On the palate, tart red berries with hints of spice prevailed, staying juicy and rich throughout. The finish showed saturating red fruits and hints of earth. This wine was beautiful on this day and will likely improve a little over the next few years, but it’s so good now, who can resist?
Previously available for $39.99
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11 Fontodi Vigna del Sorbo Chianti Classico Riserva (2009)
Comments: The nose showed red berries, floral notes, herbs and a slight hint of vanilla. On the palate, I found tart red berries with dusty spices and herbal notes leading to a structured finish with fine grain tannins. This was a great young expression of Vigna del Sorbo.
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