Because of the DOCG’s strict aging requirements, Brunello di Montalcino is typically the Tuscan red that arrives on our shores several years after the vintage has come and gone. By contrast, we usually don’t have to wait as long for Chianti Classico to arrive. Chianti Classico must age for at least seven months before release, compared to Chianti Classico Riserva’s two years and Brunello di Montalcino’s five. Villa di Geggiano’s Chianti Classico Riserva bottling is always the exception to the rule due to its slow, painstaking, cellar-aging process underneath the picturesque villa just north of Siena. This is why we are just now enjoying Geggiano’s 2018 Riserva. Combine the selection of the domaine’s best grapes and the extended life in oak tonneaux, barriques, and botti, and you have a masterful Chianti Classico Riserva. Concentrated, youthful, and soulful, this Sangiovese is enchanting now, but it has a long life full of gorgeous evolution ahead. Although the wine is complex, evoking black cherries, tobacco, and bosco, it begs for a meal as simple as a steak cooked over fire.
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.
When buying red Burgundy, I think we should remember:
1. Big wines do not age better than light wine. 2. A so-called great vintage at the outset does not guarantee a great vintage for the duration. 3. A so-called off vintage at the outset does not mean the wines do not have a brilliant future ahead of them. 4. Red Burgundy should not taste like Guigal Côte-Rôtie, even if most wine writers wish it would. 5. Don’t follow leaders; watch yer parking meters.
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