I was looking for a substantial red the other night and grabbed Geggiano’s newly released Chianti Classico Riserva to pair with lamb kofta. The 2012 Riserva is brimming with the black-cherry notes I love so much in Sangiovese, and each sip was full and expansive, with a sumptuous texture. A slight chill really upped its juiciness. Geggiano’s Riserva is usually about two vintages behind our other Chianti Riservas, and the extra time in bottle gives chewy tannins time to soften and mellow. Imagine running your hand over corduroy, then velvet. Geggiano is the velvet.
The brothers who run this estate boast a grand villa just outside Siena, a pope in the family, three last names, and some of the best Chianti Classico on the market today. Andrea and Alessandro Boscu Bianchi Bandinelli are the current proprietors of the Villa di Geggiano, a national monument that has been in their family since 1527. Geggiano follows the classic tenet that wine resembles its maker: these are distinguished, classy cuvées that nevertheless show the distinct stamp of the terroir. This Chianti earns the title of Classico not just by meeting technical requirements but with its full personality, which shows the balance of bright fruit, a deep, leathery core, and vibrant acidity that is the region’s signature.
Perhaps no region is tied to Italy’s reputation as a producer of fine wine as much as Tuscany. Since Etruscan times, viticulture has played a prominent role in this idyllic land of rolling hills, and the Tuscan winemaking tradition remains as strong as ever today. With a favorable Mediterranean climate, an undulating topography offering countless altitudes and expositions, and a wealth of poor, well-draining soils, conditions are ideal for crafting high-quality wines. Add to that the rich gastronomical tradition—Tuscany is home to some of the country’s finest game, pastas, salumi, and cheeses—and you have the blueprint for a world-class wine region.
This is Sangiovese territory; in fact, it is arguably the only place in the world where Sangiovese reaches a truly regal expression. In spite of a rocky history with fluctuations in quality, traditionally produced Chianti has reclaimed its status as one of the country’s most reliable, food-friendly reds, while the rapid rise of Brunello di Montalcino shows the grape’s potential for grandiose, opulent reds allying power and finesse. Traditionally-minded growers have stuck to using only indigenous grape varieties and employing techniques like aging in massive wooden casks known as botti, creating wines of terroir that shine at the Tuscan table.
Tuscan wines have had a place in our portfolio since Kermit’s first visit in 1977. While the names of the estates have changed, the spirit of those first unfiltered Chiantis he imported live on through our current selections.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch
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