Chianti Classico – Restoring Some Luster

10 thoughts on “Chianti Classico – Restoring Some Luster”

  1. Excellent points Tom – all of them. I think the price of entry level classico in general has take it out of the every day category. For most of us common folk, once you get to $18-$20, that’s a saturday night wine. I also like Villa Cafaggio which I think is also in Panzano and Castello di Ama is on the same level as Felsina and Fontodi of course. One good example of Classico I can get here in Jersey for $15.99 is Castello di Bossi. Not sure if there’s some Merlot in it or not. Cheers.

    1. Jonas: Thanks for the comment. The other producers you mention are also excellent. There are others as well (Lilliano, e.g.), but just not enough that take enough care to produce first-rate wines every year. That needs to change.

  2. Great Article. I think a Autumn of Chianti should follow the Summer of Riesling to bring more attention. Love Fontodi. It would be fantastic if the cru’s could become more delineated and established.

  3. Tom,
    As a total wine-freak restaurateur of 40 years, I have seen another issue besides price. I get many calls for glasses or bottles of the “house” Chianti. Never do they call for Chianti Classico, nor do they expect to pay much money. I fear that this trend is a product of the inexpensive, mediocre wines that inhabit wines stores here in NJ and the rest of the USA. When they see a cheap bottle on those shelves, they assume that we carry something similar. Perhaps at chains or family places, but we carry nothing of the sort. We price fairly with Classico starting at $35 and going to $45 for some exceptional and more expensive labels like “Porta di Vertine”. Still there is push back at that level and so we must offer simple,but tasty Sangiovese (generally declassified or second wines from estates) to satisfy those unwilling to spend. Sometimes it’s clear that they really have no idea what real Chianti tastes like; if it’s that obvious and they are just looking for a “nice” red, I steer them to our Spanna from Vallana.

    1. Peter:

      Excellent comment. I agree that the word Chianti certainly doesn’t have an image of greatness to it; it is in fact, as you pointed out, a term one relates to “cheap” wine. And yes, too many consumers don’t think about the differences between simple Chianti and the finest examples of Chianti Classico.

      That’s marketing and the Tuscans need to do something about this. But I still maintain that the Chianti Classico producers as a whole, need to consistently produce better wine.

      Excellent alternative with the Spanna by the way!

  4. Dear Tom,

    Excellet piece. Totally agree. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel, though, what with the excellent work by Alessandro Masnaghetti/Enogea in defining vineyards of particular merit? That work certainly seems to have helped Barolo to finally define individual vineyards, something of which they were apparently incapable without external stimulus.

    Best regards

    1. Ole: You bring up a good point. Alessandro has done a marvelous job with his maps of Piemonte (Barolo and Barbaresco) as well as Bolgheri. I know that he is now working on Valpolicella. These maps highlight how particular and how special these areas truly are and help explain terroir.

      Perhaps work like this could be a starting point for the impetus to change. But the problem is much larger than that. Barolo is such a special wine that lends itself to detailed, pinpoint maps. Do the majority of Chianti Classico producers feel that maps are necessary or could be important sales tools? I wonder. Given the mass market appeal of Chianti Classico, I don’t think any major changes are coming soon.

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