The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2014

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58  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2014 TASTING NOTES by Dick Rosano S ince the 1960s, the image of Chianti has evolved from that of the bulbous, straw-covered fiasco—the Italian word for flask—into something much more sophisticated. The move from flasks to Bordeaux bottles, intended to raise Chianti's image as a wine of distinction, was accompanied by more attention to vinification techniques and higher- quality production. The establishment of the Chianti Classico DOGC in 1996 cemented the sea-change. "The story of Chianti Classico is a bit like the story of the ugly duckling that became a beautiful swan," says Brancaia winemaker Barbara Widmer, adding that the region's best are now crafting wines that merge "contemporary expressions with centuries-old winemak- ing traditions." In doing so, Chianti Classico slowly, methodically, positioned itself as one of Italy's most prized wines. And the evolution of this special wine has con- tinued into the present. The Chianti Classico consortium—symbolized by the Black Rooster on the neck label—is at the forefront of these changes and can now claim another victory. Sergio Zingarelli, President of the Chianti Classico Consortium, has proudly announced a new quality classification for the DOGC: Chianti Classico Gran Selezione. A tier above Riserva, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione wines are required to be produced from single vineyard or from the estate's best- suited plots, and are aged a minimum of 30 months, with three months in bottle. "These wines are distinctive for their perfect balance between elegance and potency," Zingarelli says, with "great structure and ability to age." Just arriving in the U.S. market, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione is putting Tuscany's Brunellos and Super Tuscans on high alert. Dick Rosano's Top Chianti Classico Picks Badia a Coltibuono 2010 Chianti Classico ($21) Earthy aromas of forest floor, slight hint of truffles, raspberry and black cherry notes on palate. Brancaia 2009 Chianti Classico Riserva ($40) Deep red, chocolate and cherry open the aromas (new style vs. old), dense and chewy, tingly tannins keep the bright fruit and intensity in balance, a beautifully balanced wine. Castello d'Albola 2010 Chianti Classico ($14) Earthy and herbal, aromas of dark fruit and forest floor, palate approach is soft and well balanced, dried cherries and cranberries. Castello di Gabbiano 2009 Chianti Classico ($22) Elegant, refined, yet power- ful, hints of chocolate and truffles on nose, black cherry, raspberry on palate, long and luscious. Il Molino di Grace 2009 Chianti Classico ($22) Floral nose, rich, smooth, power packed with earth, cedar, and truffles, raspberry and blackberry flavors. Mazzei Fonterutoli 2011 Chianti Classico ($32) Bright fresh cherries with herbal accents and forest floor nose, image of smoked meat on palate, with ripe red fruit and full body. Mazzei Castello di Fonterutoli 2010 Chianti Classico ($66) Ripe ruby red, ripe red fruits on nose, slight hint of vanilla bean, dark red fruit is a come-on, saturated with jammy flavors. Rocca delle Macie 2011 Tenuta Sant'Alfonso Chianti Classico ($26) Subtle yet evident tones of brambly berry and black cherry, tingly acidity, broad shoulders and ample body. Vignole 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva ($24) Coffee, earth and dried cranberries aromas, soft yet evident tannin activity, black fruit flavors, elegant finish. Fiasco No More ON A STEADY CLIMB, CHIANTI CLASSICO ANNOUNCES A NEW QUALITY CLASSIFICATION Filippo, Francesco and Lappo Mazzei. Brancaia winemaker Barbara Widmer. PHOTO: COURTESY OF PALM BAY INTERNATIONAL PHOTO: COURTSEY OF E. & J. GALLO WINERY

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