There’s a school of thought, or perhaps a school of not giving a thought, that all wines from one country should be lumped into a category. I find myself suppressing a smile when someone refers to “French wine” or “Italian wine.” But in reality, a fine Bordeaux is to Champagne as…Southern soul food is to New York-style pizza. Both are foods, yes–and potentially very tasty–but they have little else in common other than the fact that they are made in the same country.
I say this not to make anyone who has ever used the phrase “Italian wine” feel bad but to invite you consider the many regions and dynamic depth of styles a single country can offer. In fact, even within a region, there are distinctions. Although Chianti Classico is Tuscan wine it has a distinctive style that sets this micro-region very much apart from the whole of Tuscany.
What is the Chianti Classico region?
The Chianto Classico region is an ancient winemaking region stretching between Florence and Siena. Its history in viticulture dates back over 2,000 years. However, it is not just the location that makes Chianti Classico wines distinctive. You know when you buy a bottle marked with the region’s symbol of a black rooster that you’re buying a wine that consists of at least 80% Sangiovese grapes. (The remainder of the blend may be traditional grapes like Canaiolo. Or it may be blended with international grapes like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon…or maybe a bit of both.)
Get to know the wines of the black rooster
The wines have a minimum alcohol level of 12% and a minimum level of residual sugar at .4%. The wines are aged a minimum of 1 year, more for Riserva and Gran Selezione wines. In general, the resulting wines offer similarities to other Chianti regions. But the Chianti Classico wines are recognized for their high acidity, making them particularly friendly to pairing with a meal. In addition, they tend to have a very high level of quality.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down and taste a flight of the region’s wines from the same vintage side by side. Both the differences and similarities were remarkable. To illustrate my point, here are my Chianti Classico reviews.
My Chianti Classico reviews
2016 Luiano Chianti Classico DOCG
This wine comes from the warmest part of the Chianti Classico region and, as a result, it’s one of the lowest acid wines of my Chianti Classico reviews. Its aromas are of rose petals, tomato and a hint of spice. There’s a freshness on the palate. It’s a lovely wine that finishes with drying tannins.
2016 Famiglia Zingarelli Chianti Classico DOCG
This wine is made with 95% Sangiovese and 5% Merlot. It’s a wine for anyone who loves a generous palate of tart red fruits like spring cherries and red currants.
2016 Bibbiano Chianti Classico DOCG
One of my personal favorite wines from the tasting, it has an alluring note of fresh watermelon. It’s a medium-bodied wine with the acidity you’d expect from a Chianti Classico, yet it offers lovely, fresh berry notes that give its vibrancy a roundness.
2016 Aria Chianti Classico DOCG
I think of this one as the whips and chains wine of Chianti Classico. It is sultry with masculine notes. It’s sexy in a none too subtle way. But don’t be afraid! Although it’s a more sensual wine than its counterparts, it is also a delicious drink with black cherry and musky blackberry notes.
2016 Poggio Bonelli Chianti Classico DOCG
I find this wine to be one of the easiest drinking of the Chiantis recommended here. It offers hints of leather and black pepper but fruit notes dominate. Think berries, plums and a touch of sour cherry, harmonizing elegantly with a touch of oak.
2016 Dievole Chianti Classico DOCG
An interesting wine from the western side of the Chianti Classico region, it offers a lovely interplay of berries and herbs both on the nose and the palate. Ripe cherry flavors dominate in the mouth with a hint of up front sweetness and pleasing length.
For more of my wine recommendations, check out Woman on Wine.
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