Chianti Classico and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: News, UGAs, and New Releases

By John Szabo, MS

Evolution and progress are underway in Tuscany. Two of the region’s key, historic appellations, Chianti Classico and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, have introduced new UGAs, “unità geografiche aggiuntive” or “additional geographic units” — known less awkwardly elsewhere as sub-zones — into their existing appellation structures. This added label information will allow producers to identify more specifically where wines originate in both of these rather heterogeneous wine growing regions, and for consumers to connect more deeply with, and understand more clearly the differences in wine styles that arise across and within each region. It may also potentially stimulate demand, encouraging consumers and the wine trade to compare the wines of different sub-zones, perhaps even create expanded sections on restaurant wine lists and retail shelves.

With these also come a tightening of production regulations, most notably an increase in the percentage of sangiovese required, and the elimination of international grapes for the top tier wines. Tuscany has also quietly been turning into a more and more green haven of biodiversity, with Chianti Classico in particular now a world-leading appellation with an impressive 52.5 percent of all vineyards farmed organically. Who says the old world is carved in stone?

Read on for more on these developments and for my buyer’s guide of new releases from Chianti Classico, fruit of a recent week-long visit to the region, and the best Vino Nobile from a recent tasting back here in Toronto featuring many of the region’s top producers.

The territory on the label: the Chianti Classico UGA project gets under way

A large majority of the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium approved the introduction of UGAs, “unità geografiche aggiuntive” or “additional geographic units,” last year. “A number of areas have been identified and delimited within the Chianti Classico production zone, distinguishable on the basis of specific criteria such as oenological recognisability, historical authenticity, renown, and significance in terms of volumes produced,” states the official press release.

The approved UGAs are: Castellina, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Gaiole, Greve, Lamole, Montefioralle, Panzano, Radda, San Casciano, San Donato in Poggio (including the territories of Barberino Tavarnelle and Poggibonsi), Vagliagli.

These Additional Geographical Units, at least for the introductory phase, will be applied only to wines in the Gran Selezionecategory. But the door has been left open to include Chianti Classico’s other two categories, Annata (Vintage) and Riserva, in the near future.

In some cases, the UGAs are quite restricted in size such as the tiny hamlet of Lamole within Greve and its surrounding vineyards, and elsewhere quite broad, as with the large area of Castellina. Climate and soil can vary dramatically within UGAs (soil varies dramatically everywhere in Chianti Classico), so it’s currently a challenge to associate specific styles with each UGA. But from my experience tasting quite broadly within the region, a few of the sub-zones are already presenting a cohesive stylistic range.

Take for example the light, delicate and fragrant wines of Lamole and its cool, high elevation vineyards planted in mainly sandstone soils, or the intensely stony and tense, sinewy wines of Radda and its bony variations on limestone at equally high elevations, the dense power and bold ripeness allied to high acids of Panzano, or the smooth and suavely-textured wines of San Casciano and its lower, warmer vineyards. There’s much yet to discover and define, but it’s an excellent start.

Expect UGA names to start appearing on the Gran Selezioni of 2019 and especially 2020.

Compositional Change

Along with the introduction of UGAs for Gran Selezione, a change in the approved blend was also introduced at the same time. Currently, the three categories of Chianti Classico — Annata, Riserva and Gran Selezione — are all made from the same permitted varieties: 80–100 percent sangiovese and up to a maximum of 20 percent of authorised native and/or international red grapes. With the new specifications, the minimum percentage of sangiovese has been raised to 90 percent for Gran Selezione, and international grapes are no longer permitted, i.e., only native black grapes up to a maximum of 10 percent are allowed. There will be a phase-in period for this compositional change, however, to allow estates to replant vineyards with the permitted mix of grapes where necessary.

For the record, 154 wineries currently produce Gran Selezione for a total of 182 labels, representing about 6 percent of the production of Chianti Classico.

Biodiversity and Earth-Friendly Farming

Chianti Classico continues to expand organic viticulture. The region is already a haven of biodiversity, with only about 10 percent of the area’s 75,000 hectares planted to vineyards, and a full two-thirds of the territory covered by woodlands. Just ask any winegrower about the challenges they face from wild boar and deer. And now more than half of vineyard acreage is devoted to organic farming practices, 52.5 percent exactly, according to Giovanni Manetti, president of the Chianti Classico Consortium, up from around 30 percent just a couple of years ago. Compared to the national average of about 11 percent, and a world average of just 4.6 percent, that’s impressive. The ultimate goal, according to Manetti, is to have the entire Chianti Classico appellation certified organic. Considering that the UGA of Panzano — where Manetti’s own Az. Agr. Fontodi is located — is very nearly 100 percent organic now, it’s a goal that doesn’t seem beyond the grasp of the region.

The Parishes of Montepulciano

Over in nearby Montepulciano, the consorzio that oversees the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG has also just finalized a new project to officially create a dozen UGAs within the appellation, whose names will appear on the labels of qualifying wines. And like with Gran Selezione, the UGAs come with more restrictive production requirements, essentially establishing a new tier above Riserva.

But rather than by commune or village, the UGAs of Montepulciano are based on the region’s pieve (plural: pievi). The English equivalent of pieve is parish, a small administrative district of the Christian church with its own church and a priest or pastor. The consorzio drew on land records from the 18th century to link the area’s wines to these historical parish precincts, with additional finessing of names and precise boundaries by the consorzio members

To specify a pieve on a Vino Nobile label, the grapes must be from vineyards that are owned or controlled by the producer (i.e., no purchased grapes, as for Chianti Classico’s Gran Selezione) and of course from entirely within the named pieve. Additionally, vineyards will have to be at least 15 years old. Like the UGAs of Chianti Classico, the pieve of Montepulciano don’t define terroir in the strict physical sense of the term (soils, climate) — parish priests surely required a lot of wine, but didn’t define it in any meaningful way. But the fact that grapes originate from a much smaller area than the general appellation would permit should encourage distinctive characteristics from each pieve to eventually emerge. For the record, the 12 pievi are: Ascianello, Argiano, Badia, Caggiole, Cerliana, Cervognano, Gracciano, Le Grazie, San Biagio, Sant’Albino, Valardegna, Valiano. Wine students, get your flashcards ready.

Carta delle UGA Montepulciano
Carta delle UGA Montepulciano

Also More Restrictive Production

Pieve-named wines must be composed of at least 85 percent sangiovese — or prugnolo gentile as it known in Montepulciano — up from the current 70 percent. The balance of the blend is also restricted to a handful of permitted local varieties; international varieties are excluded. Pieve wines must spend at least three years in the cellar before release (the same as Riserva currently) and will have to gain approval from a tasting panel.

The Pieve category has been made retroactive to the 2020 harvest, so expect the first Vino Nobile Pieve wines from the 2020 vintage to hit the market by early 2024.

For more details on Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, listen to the three-part Wine Thieves podcast series:

  1. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: past, present and future
  2. The Cartographer of Montepulciano
  3. Sangiovese: A Reflection of Terroir in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Buyer’s Guide: Chianti Classico By UGA

The following recommendations are divided by UGA; although none yet bear the UGA name on the label, you can get a head start here with your comparative tastings. Check directly with the importer for availability; in some cases older vintages are still on the market (look for the excellent 2016s — a terrific vintage across central Italy).


91 Rocca delle Macìe Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Tenuta Fizzano 2019 ($34.95 Profile Wine Group)
I like the perfume here on this 2019, a lovely Chianti Classico vintage, ripe, fresh and balanced. Fruit is fresh and intact in the classic tart red berry spectrum, and the palate is broad and fullish. I like the balance of ripeness and freshness, with comfortable tannins, firm but supple and ripe, not stressed, with lots of fruit material to buffer and yield a form of elegance. Length and depth are very good to excellent. The best Fizzano Gran Selezione I’ve tasted.

Castelnuovo Berardenga

93 San Felice Chianti Classico Il Grigio Gran Selezione 2017 (Charton & Hobbs)
Sangiovese is blended here with a smattering of other rare native varieties like abrusco, mazzese and pugnitello. Evolving and savoury, not quite into dried mushroom, indeed still quite fresh considering the hot vintage. Acids are high and tannins firm and dusty, yet there’s sufficient fruit here to balance. I like the juiciness and the savouriness, and the concentration without heaviness. Alcohol sits at a comfortable 13.5 percent. Very good length and complexity overall. A lovely wine at an attractive price. wood is well integrated. From three vineyards, the highest on the San Felice property, aged in 30 percent new 500-litre barrels.

90 San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva Il Grigio da San Felice 2019 (Charton & Hobbs)
A pure sangiovese (or very close), juicy, with red fruit and firm structure, and good length. This needs aeration to come alive, at which point florals and herbs cede to juicy-tart red fruit, also lightly candied. This grows nicely in the glass, and gains in complexity, auguring well for future development.


94 San Giusto a Rentenanno Percarlo Sangiovese di Toscana 2018 (Le Maître de Chai)
Similar to the Chianti Classico Riserva from San Giusto in the same vintage in terms of vineyard origin, though with more extract and structure thanks to longer maceration time, up to 35 days, and warmer fermentation temperature cresting over 30ºC. It shares the hallmark purity of fruit and depth of the house style and will need another 4–6 years ideally. This is sturdy, dark-fruited, beautifully crafted wine.

93 San Giusto a Rentenanno Chianti Classico Riserva Il Baroncole 2018 (Le Maître de Chai)
A selection of the smaller bunches, harvested about a week after the Chianti annata, with longer maceration on the skins and given two years in wood. It’s named  for the cypress-lined road that leads into the medieval monastery of San Giusto. This is a wine of significant depth and rich texture, with an old wood-like positive oxidation. The alcohol is palate-warming, broad and concentrated, with direct and pure fruit, sweeter and darker than the mean, spiced with licorice, showing excellent length. Try this after 2025 — it’s a wine with the power to age and tannins need to melt into the ensemble.

92 San Giusto a Rentenanno Chianti Classico 2019 (Le Maître de Chai)
Great nose, replete with fruit, red, and shifting to riper black, with genuine depth and grip, fuzzy, honest tannins. Long finish. This is still raw, far from prime, with ample depth and fruit. Very good length. A unique expression of sangiovese from this singular area of Chianti Classico, the only one with sea-bed volcanic tufo, clay and sandy pebbles. Distinctive.

92 Cantalici Cantalici Gran Selezione 2016 (Not represented)
A vineyard selection, followed by barrel selection. This is in good shape, fruit is still intact. Nice herbals and botanicals. Terrific balance on the palate, great acids, energetic. Complete. Has that sapidity and tension. Great length. Lovely wine; needs more time, 3–5 or so for maximum development.


92 Castello di Querceto Chianti Classico Castello di Querceto 2019 (Profile Wine Group)
Clean, pure, gently reductive. Savoury, blood orange-flavoured. Great palate presence, acids and fine, grainy tannins. Lots of sapidity and succulence. Excellent length. Classic stuff, such a pleasure to drink.

91 Carpineto Chianti Classico Riserva Carpineto 2018 (Univins)
Eighty percent sangiovese, 20 percent canaiolo. A wine of fine weight and density, and indeed genuine concentration. Sapidity is high and length is excellent. Carpineto’s wines need time in bottle. Try this after 2023.

90 Montecalvi Chianti Classico Montecalvi 2019 (Not represented)
Pretty, fragrant, old school, pot pourri, dried flower-scented Classico here. Savoury, lovely palate, silky-firm tannins, juicy, succulent acids. Acetic just right. Fine length.

90 Triacca / La Madonnina Chianti Classico Bello Stento 2019 (Heritage Cellars Ltd)
Clean, fruit in the fore, raspberry, almost pinot-like, juicy — have to say I like this. Fine, natural balance. Smooth, pleasant drinking, fine length.


94 I Fabbri Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2018 (Winehouse Imports)
This “black label” has always been produced in only top vintages and with the best parcels, aged longer than the Riserva I Fabbri (i.e., “the best of the best”). The 2018 is a pure pale red, barely tending to garnet. Cleaner and fruitier than the Riserva, with more intact fruit, less resinous, less VA, floral, perfumed, very Lamole. The palate is lovely, broad and silky, still raw, not powerful but structured; plenty of depth without heaviness. The finish lingers on so nicely. Really fine, very Burgundian to use a badly overused analogy. 2261 bottles made.

92 Fontodi Chianti Classico Filetta di Lamole 2019 (Rogers & Company)
Fine and refined, light and delicate fruit, clean and pure, all red berry and citrus-orange. Tannins are ultra-fine grained, silky, toute en finesse — the Chambolle of Chianti Classico.

92 I Fabbri Chianti Classico Lamole 2019 (Winehouse Imports)
The highest vineyards of I Fabbri up to 650 metres, on sandstones (macigno). Bright, pale red. Lovely and perfumed in the Lamole style, floral, with lifted cherry fruit, red currant, so pure and fresh, untouched by oxidation. The palate is fine and filigree, with ultra-fine powdery tannins and succulent, salty acids, dark chocolate-covered sour cherries. Length is great. Such a lovely and refined Chianti Classico, with deeply appealing aromatics — love this.

92 I Fabbri Chianti Classico Terre di Lamole 2019 (Winehouse Imports)
10 percent cannaiolo with sangiovese from vineyards below the road (450–550 metres), the whole aged 50 percent in old wood, the other half in concrete. This has such lovely perfume in the regional and house style, with the particular spice and lift of cannaiolo. The palate is light, fresh, light-weight with fine dusty tannins, crunchy acids and a wash of tart-sweet red fruit. Another gorgeous and finessed wine from I Fabbri, with more breadth and depth than the Lamole.

92 Podere Castelinuzza Chianti Classico 2019 (Not represented)
Paolo Coccia’s 2019 pours a pretty, pale red and delivers that  high-toned fruit of Lamole. Sweet strawberry right off the bush, raspberry compote, clean and pure, lovely florals, ripe, honest, grippy tannins, like fresh grape skins. I like the presence on the palate, the completeness and the depth; length too is very good to excellent. A fine example.

91 Le Massa di Lamole Chianti Classico 2019 (Not represented)
Sangiovese cultivated with olive trees and iris. More on the oxidative side, bruised fruit, blueberry compote, open, low sulfur (?). The palate is equally open, honest, fleshy, like raw, fresh cherries. Tannins are furry and acids are vibrant, but not sharp. Length is very good. A very open and honest wine well within the zeitgeist, succulent, the sort you can drink a great deal of without serious repercussions.

90 Montefioralle Chianti Classico Montefioralle 2019 (Not represented)
An honest, earthy, visceral Chianti Classico, fleshy and open, fuzzy in a good way, with minimal interference. The palate follows through, with similar straightforwardness. Long finish.


94 Querciabella Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2017 (Grape Brands)
The first release of Gran Selezione from Querciabella, the fruit and culmination of many years of experimentation with the estate vineyards in Greve, Gaiole and Radda. 2017 was a very warm vintage, but those who worked well in the vineyards produced surprisingly high-quality wines. Moderate extraction was key; fermentation finished with submerged cap, a gentle form of extraction. Aged in 3000-litre cask. Evolving relatively slowly for 2017, with fruit mostly in the red spectrum showing high density and concentration. With air, the more floral side comes out, showing finesse and refinement. Tannins, too, are fine grained, edging towards silky, balanced by fine and firm acids. Very long finish. A highly successful first outing into the gran selezione category, on the more finessed end of the spectrum, best from 2024 on, into the mid-2030s in a good cellar.

91 Querciabella Chianti Classico Querciabella 2019 (Grape Brands)
Pure sangiovese from a blend of 65 parcels spread across the communes of Ruffoli (Greve), Lamole (Greve) and Radda in Chianti, vinified separately before assembling for bottling. Cropping levels were fairly generous in 2019, but with well-balanced fruit, showing both density and freshness, and transparent, crunchy, juicy fruit. Quality was similar across the three areas, with the luxury of being able to pick whenever fruit was ready across all parcels. The colour is a proper bright red, and the nose a mixed bowl of red fruits, fragrant, gently floral, neither on the oxidative side nor reductive. I love the freshness here, and the purity, clean but not sterile, with fine, fuzzy tannins. Wood is not a flavour influence (aged in tonneaux and 20 percent large cask). Terrific wine; best after 2024 or hold into the 2030s easily — balanced, structured and finessed.


92 Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Vigna Contessa Luisa 2018 (Nicholas Pearce)
Forty-two percent clay, the least sandy of the three Villa Calcinaia Gran Selezioni. The deepest of the three Gran Selezione in colour, with open, fruity nose, ripe, showing advanced character. This also has the most volume on the palate, also the most grippy, angular tannins, more furry than sandy, and lowest perceived volatility. Bitterness is less pronounced in this cru, probably thanks to the greater fruit extract. I’d say the most ageworthy of the three as well. I prefer this one, seems the most complete.


94 Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve Colli Toscana Centrale 2018 (Rogers & Company)
Formerly a single vineyard, first bottled in 1981, Flaccianello is now made from several vineyards in the famous Conca d’Oro of Panzano, with bunch selection both in the vineyard at harvest and further strict sorting in the winery. As always, pure sangiovese and soon to finally be bottled under the Chianti Classico appellation in the Gran Selezione category, according to owner Giovanni Manetti, also current president of the Chianti Classico Consorzio. The 2018 is a forward and ripe, abundantly fruity wine, pure, with aromatic depth and breadth. The palate is evenly proportioned, more balanced than full-bodied, though structure is big, tannins abundant and broad. Flavours shift more into the dark-fruit spectrum, even blue, and length is excellent. This shouldn’t be opened until at least 2025, or hold into the late 2030s. Terrific wine.

94 Fontodi Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Vigna del Sorbo 2018 (Rogers & Company)
Dense, intense, powerful, richly tannic but not exaggerated. Lovely, crunchy acids — so remarkable in a wine that has 15 percent alcohol. It’s a wine that has much development ahead of it. There’s a great deal here. Best 2026–2040.

92 Fontodi Chianti Classico Fontodi 2019 (Rogers & Company)
One hundred percent sangiovese. Clean, ripe but very fresh — “reminds me of the [otherworldly] 2001,” says winemaker Giovanni Manetti. Terrific nose here, clearly ripe and generous, fruit-rich. Tannins are abundant and this is powerful wine to be sure, with the uniquely Panzano combination of ripeness, tannins and firm acids, and a strong mineral signature. Fruit is pure and driving, length is excellent. A 2019 that needs time; 3–4 years at least to reach maximum I suspect.

92 Il Palagio di Panzano Chianti Classico Il Palagio di Panzano 2019 (Infinite Wines)
One hundred percent sangiovese. Fruity, ripe, generous, with fine palate presence. Density with freshness. Excellent length. High-quality wine.

92 Fontodi Chianti Classico “Dino” 2019 (Rogers & Company)
“Dino” is named in homage to Giovanni’s father, who bought Fontodi. It’s a “quasi Flaccianello” selection of grapes, a particular clone of sangiovese with thick skins, intact and strong. It’s given a full four months maceration on the skins in amphora, followed by another year in the same. The oxidation is slower in clay than wood, even big wood, even though they are not lined, and the texture is not as evolved as the wood-aged version; still grippy. Seems volatility is higher, though in fact it is lower, 0.5, compared to the “normale,” at 0.7. Will be interesting to see this age. There’s some fantasy here.

92 Tenuta Casenuove Chianti Classico Riserva Tenuta Casenuove 2018 (Colio Winery)
Plump and generous, full, fruity, balanced fruit and wood, great depth and length. Power and acid. Needs time, 3–5 years.

91 Tenuta Casenuove Chianti Classico Tenuta Casenuove 2019 (Colio Winery)
Ninety percent sangiovese, five percent merlot, five percent cabernet sauvignon. Forward leaning, modern style wine here, fleshy, ripe, also quite sapid and succulent, with evident concentration, and great length. Really interesting. Powerful, ripe, high quality to be sure.

91 Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico Riserva 2019 (Northern Wine Merchants)
Another fine, highly drinkable wine from Il Molino di Grace, here remarkably open with light tannic density, lively and fresh, almost easy. Acids are great, drinkability is high. No need for extending cellaring — enjoy this short-mid-term.


94 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Coltassala 2018 (Rogers & Company)
Cool, reserved, gently reduced in the house style, but what presence on the palate, what density and length! Amazing depth as well. A great 2018 to be sure. Drinking now but better to hold until 2025. Ninety-five percent sangiovese, five percent mammolo.

92 Brancaia Chianti Classico Riserva Brancaia 2018 (Noble Estates)
Ripe, fleshy, tonic, properly mid-weight, succulent. No problem here. Tannins are a bit aggressive, but this works well. Eighty percent Sangiovese, 20 percent merlot.

92 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva Castello di Volpaia 2019  (Rogers & Company)
Perfectly lovely and fresh, crunchy, properly lean and succulent. Long finish. Another wine lover’s wine from Volpaia, drinking well now, but surely ageable into the latter part of the decade. One hundred percent sangiovese.

90 Brancaia Chianti Classico Brancaia 2019 (Noble Esates)
Clean and lightly reductive, juicy and lively, great acids, perfectly pitched, everything is in the right place. Lively and lovely. One hundred percent sangiovese.

90 Castello di Radda Chianti Classico Castello di Radda 2019 (Epic Wines & Spirits)
Balanced, succulent and juicy, properly firm and dusty, no evident wood influence. Fine and juicy wine, so lovely. Ninety percent sangiovese, ten percent colorino and canaiolo.

90 Istine Chianti Classico Istine 2020 (Cavinona)
A really nicely balanced 2020 Chianti Classico, vibrant, fresh, cherry-driven, lively. Balanced, pure and crunchy. Proper. Drink now to 2028.

San Casciano

94 La Sala del Torriano Chianti Classico Il Torriano Gran Selezione 2018 (Not represented)
A single vineyard of one and half hectares, pure sangiovese, three to four weeks maceration, with 2.5 years in large old cask, untoasted. A more evolved wine than the 2018 Riserva, with lots of blood orange and both sweet and savoury herbs, bright red fruit, more red than black, aromatically intriguing. The palate takes me back to elegance and freshness, with very comfortable balance, slightly more dusty, structured tannins, moderate in abundance. With air the floral side really comes to the fore, fragrant and generous. A very refined and elegant gran selezione, with terrific length. Really enjoying this.

91 La Sala del Torriano Chianti Classico 2019 (Not represented)
Five percent merlot, aged in 4000-liter casks. Clean, though in a more traditional leaning style, with old-wood influence and savoury character equal to the red fruit, and a positive volatile touch. The palate is lovely, sapid and fullish, succulent and energetic, with genuine palate presence, and excellent length. Tannins are supple and soft, more velvety than silky. A very approachable and widely appealing style, with fruit well preserved. A delicious wine, via di mezzo between the more angular Chianti Classico style and the more approachable, while still representing the territory fairly with better-than-average complexity and a big step up from more commercial examples.

91 Cigliano di Sopra Chianti Classico 2019 (Not represented)
Pale garnet, ripe, also a little funky and fuzzy, low sulfur character in any case. Yet with superior intensity and density on the palate, richly fruity, with excellent extraction. Palate pulls it all together, shifts into blood orange. Drink over the shorter term.

91 Collazzi Bastioni dei Colazzi Chianti Classico 2019 (Not represented)
Darker fruit takes the lead here, also medicinal character, sappy, sapid cherry, pure raspberry fruit, fine depth and depth. Modern leaning, impressive, long finish.

91 Villa Mangiacane Chianti Classico 2019 (Loyal Imports)
Ripe and substantial, solid, high complexity, with sapid, savoury acids. Balanced, old wood. Long finish. Good wine.

91 Castello di Grevepesa Clemente VII Riserva Chianti Classico 2018 (Profile Wine Group)
Creamy, woody to a degree, with big, furry tannins, and large-scale structure, long finish. Modern to be sure, but well done, and should turn more savoury and blood orange-tinged in time.

91 Principe Corsini Villa le Corti Cortevecchia Chianti Classico Riserva 2018 (The Case for Wine)
Evident wood influence, old but marked; full, balanced, savoury palate, genuine density, long finish. Solid wine, well-constructed, honest, a big mouthful.

90 Principe Corsini Villa Le Corti Chianti Classico 2019 (The Case for Wine)
Dusty, wood, old wood, old school, decent Weight and density, and length. Solid example, savoury, proper. Needs some time.

San Donato in Poggio

94 Isole e Olena 2018 Ceparello IGT Toscana (Halpern) Case for Wine)
The 2018 Ceparello, named for the little stream that runs through Isole, is youthful and tight as expected at this stage. 2018 was hot, with hotter days than even 2017 in July, but September rains slowed down ripening and pushed off harvest into October, with the net result being a more finessed, fresh wine, which de Marchi expects to age very well. The palate is densely structured but not heavy, with some wood toast still marked. This will need several years in the cellar, best after 2026. A bit rough and tumble I have to say, but the wine is clearly closed on this cold, cloudy spring day.

93 Monsanto Fabrizio Bianchi Sangioveto Grosso 2016 IGT Toscana (Stem Wine Group)
Pure sangiovese from within the Chianti Classico zone in the Scanni vineyard planted in 1968 at a time when the rules did not permit 100 percent sangiovese, but not labeled as such, a nod to Fabrizio Bianchi’s rebellious nature and appellation-bending approach from the 1960s on. Lovely nose, lovely silky palate, this is a complex and complete wine still youthful. Tannins are fine grained but abundant. Very good depth; best after 2026.

92 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2019 (Halpern)
De Marchi includes up to about 15 percent cannaiolo, and also a small dash of syrah, grafted in the early 1980s as a blending variety (less impactful than cabernet for example) in his Chianti Classico, aged in mixed wood sizes, large, medium small,  all old. Fragrant, perfumed, open, floral, with a marvelous mix of all of the classic components. Abundant, silty tannins, silky, balanced and finessed, also structured. I’d recommend another two to three years in bottle, or hold into the 2030s — this is a well-built wine with depth.


94 Fattoria della Aiola Chianti Classico Cancello Rosso Gran Selezione 2017 (United Stars)
Seventeen-year old vines from the Cancello Rosso vineyard planted around at the end of the 1990s, the highest vineyard on the Aiola property, near 450 metres ASL aged in botti and tonneaux. Rich and aromatic, evolving, not to say mature, still holding on to significant ripe, dark cherry fruit. Wood is still noted, but there’s more than enough fruit to balance. Best after 2025 or so.

90 Fattoria della Aiola Chianti Classico Riserva 2018 (United Stars)
Bottled in December. Aged in both botte and 500-litre barrels, with 10 percent merlot and cannaiolo. Wood dust and black cherry fruit lead with some herbals. Palate is fullish and juicy-succulent, with good presence and length. Needs another two to three years at least I’d say to enter its drinking window — should develop nicely.

Buyer’s Guide: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Tenuta Valdipiatta Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2018
$35.00, Rogers & Co.
John Szabo
Established in the mid-1960s, with 22 hectares of vineyards certified organic as of this 2018 vintage, and an additional eight hectares set aside to preserve and increase biodiversity and ecological corridors. Cover crops and earthworm composts are employed, and bees are kept on the property. The Vino Nobile is sourced from the highest parcels on the estate with more clay, water retentive in Tuscany’s increasingly dry summers, and aged 75 percent in large casks, with the rest in old barrique and tonneaux. Bordeaux consultant Eric Boissenot oversees winemaking. Deep, rich, impactful nose, displaying considerable ripeness moving from red to black cherry to blackberry, with fullish, succulent palate with both power and elegance. Very good length, too. A solid, well-made, comfortably balanced and substantial Vino Nobile, best 2023–2030.

Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2018
$48.95, Artisanal Wine Imports
John SzaboFrom Boscarelli’s estate vineyards in the Cervognano pieve (parish), one of 12 new additional geographic mentions in the appellation, planted 25 years ago. Pale garnet red, old school in style, savoury and dusty, with ageing in large old casks up to 35 hectalitres, so only minimal, oxidative impact. The palate is mid-weight, firm and dusty but not hard, with particularly juicy, attractive acids and saliva-inducing character. Complexity is good to very good. Fine, traditional style, balanced and savoury. Best 2024-2032. 14 percent alcohol.

Il Molinaccio Vino Nobile di Montepulciano La Spinosa 2018
$N/A Not Represented
John SzaboA small, 3.6-hectare organic estate in Cervognano parish established in 2012 by Alessandro Sartini and Marco Malavasi, here in the 2018 vintage showing a pale, vibrant red-garnet colour, and pretty, open aromatics, floral, carnations and tart red berries, pure sangiovese. The texture is really intriguing here, a light-bodied and open-knit wine from predominantly sandy soils, with succulent, juicy acids. Ageing in old 25 hectolitre casks for 12 months leaves little flavour impact, but this is all about the finesse and elegance, a stylish, contemporary yet also classically styled example, drinking well now — there doesn’t appear to be much to gain by extending cellaring. Lovely stuff, saline, honest and authentic.

Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2017
$32.95, Univins
John SzaboNinety percent sangiovese, aged two years in 55 hectolitre Slavonian oak casks and a small part in French barriques. The nose is quite deep and powerful, ripe within the sangiovese spectrum with the spice of cannaiolo alongside ripe-tart red berry fruit, dried herbs, old wood. Tannins are very fine and light, refined, while acids are comfortable and nicely balanced, especially for the challenging (hot) 2017 vintage. Length and depth are excellent. This is drinking very well at the moment though be sure to carafe, but there’s no rush either — hold into the early 2030s. Solid vintage. 14.5 percent alcohol.

Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2018
$40.00, Profile Wine Group
John SzaboFrom the La Ciarliana vineyard in Cervognano, a clay-rich site lending itself in general to a more deeply-coloured and full-bodied, powerful style of Vino Nobile, though here in a more “delicate, elegant” vintage. Ten percent cannaiolo, aged 24 months in large Slavonian oak casks. The colour is a moderate red-garnet, with plenty of sweet red berry fruit, raspberry, red cherry. The palate takes a turn to more sweetness thanks to wood sheen, more cacao powder than vanilla, and  old wood-cedary notes. The back end heats up thanks to 14.5 percent alcohol. Good to very good length. Quite substantial in the 2018 context, best after 2023.

Salcheto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2018
$N/A Buyers + Cellars
John SzaboSalchetto is a progressive, fully sustainable operation (certified 3E) established in 1984, also certified organic. The winery uses an ultralight, 360-gram bottle to reduce its carbon footprint, among many other creative initiatives. The wine, too, is very good, this 2018 delivering a lovely, clean nose from pure sangiovese, fragrant, floral, with carnations, red and sour cherry fruit,  and both sweet and resinous herbs. The palate is quite structured, and firm, with moderately abundant but grippy tannins and succulent acids. Length, depth and overall complexity  are good. Solid; ready to enjoy or cellar into the mid-2020s. 13.5 percent alcohol.

That’s all for this report. See you around the next bottle.

John Szabo, MS