Do you drink Chianti? If you answered no then I’d have to wonder what planet you’re from. What about aged Chianti? I’d be surprised if the average person has tasted Chianti with over ten years on it. Why? Well, because most people think of Chianti as an early drinking yet highly enjoyable wine with a night of pasta or pizza. However, three years ago I received an education in aged Chianti from Greg dal Piaz of www.snooth.com. On that night, the theme was Chianti Classico from 1990, and it changed the way I looked at Chianti forever.
Fast forward to October 2010 at a new restaurant on the upper west side: Tolani. After three years of experimenting with aged Chianti, the time was right for a more in-depth approach at understanding what can be achieved from these great Tuscan wines. Lucky for me, my friend Fernando Losada decided to organize a tasting centered on Sangiovese (the grape that makes Chianti, Chianti) with all bottles predating the year 2000.
With 12 bottles of the who’s who in Tuscany and eight tasters of impeccable repute, the decision was made that these wines were fabulas. What thrilled me the most was the utter level of rich, vibrant fruit and balance that was found in each glass. Even with two wines over 30 years old, we were amazed by the high level quality found from each bottle. What’s remarkable to me is that we often speak of how Italy has improved the level of quality and cleanliness in their cellars over the last decade, yet these wines showed that there were many producers that were far ahead of the curve in Tuscany.
My suggestion: search out some aged Chianti Classico from a reputable dealer, and find out for yourself. The wines below would certainly be a good place the start.
On to the notes:
1985 Boscarelli (Marchesi de Ferrari Corradi) Vino da Tavola – The nose opened up with ginger spice cookie, roasted sausage and potpourri with a mineral bass note that made this all at once savory, fruity and earthy. On the palate, I found lush black fruits that were spicy with a hint of black pepper leading to a dark soil note on the slightly tannic finish. I hope to be able to taste this again in a few years. (92 Points)
1985 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico Riserva – The nose showed dusty spiced cherry with hints of florist shop, undergrowth and a bit of old parchment. On the palate, I found tart, tight wild berry fruit and a hint of herbal tea. The finish was tight but showed this wine is still blossoming. (91 points)
1995 Stefano Farina Chianti Classico Le Bocce – The nose on this wine was immediately intriguing as it reminded me of the cooking process when making cranberry sauce. Aromas of red wild berries with a dark mulling spice quality rose up from the glass. On the palate, I found lush red fruits with a gorgeous balance of acidity verse richness, leading to a finish that was still tannic and showed a hint of anise. (91 Points)
1996 Castell’in Villa Chianti Classico – I found myself going back and forth between liking and disliking this wine as it showed incredible richness, yet had an almost dirty quality to it. The nose showed rich soil and sweet tea with red fruits and hard candies. On the palate, I found tart cherry with herbal tea, which led to a medium finish that left me with a rusty aftertaste. (85 points)
1991 Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva Badia a Passignano – On the nose I found ginger and spice with tart black fruit and a hint of charcoal and vanilla. The palate was structured and a bit restrained, with blackberry and tar. The finish was rich and long. (89 points)
1990 Villa di Vetrice Chianti Rufina Riserva (corked) – Too bad this bottle was corked because you could sense the quality that was fighting to stay in front of the mildew-like aroma the crept threw. Otherwise, I found a rich, spicy expression of dark fruit on the nose. On the palate, I found dark fruits and beef broth leading to a medium finish. (No score)
1995 Fattoria di Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia – The nose on the ’95 Rancia was floral with spice, cinnamon and a hint of stems. On the palate, I found smooth tart cherry and cedar with a beautiful balance of acidity verse structure, which led to a refined yet slightly restrained finish. (92 points)
1997 Marchesi Mazzei Chianti Classico Castello di Fonterutoli – On the nose, I found plum fruit with a dusting of confectioners sugar followed by veal reduction and cedar. On the palate, cherry was dominant with a musky, animal note. Bright sour fruit appeared on the finish. (86 points)
1997 La Massa Chianti Classico Giorgio Primo – I found restrained fruit on the nose, as sour berries and cinnamon gram come forward. On the palate, I found jammy cherry but little else and this wine lost momentum leading into the finish. (86 Points)
1997 Castello di Monsanto Tinscvil Toscana IGT – This wine showed a mix of blue and black fruit on the nose with hints of beefy broth. On the palate, I found sour cherries and bitters leading to a short tart finish. (86 points)
1977 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio - The 1977 Monsanto, Il Poggio showed vibrant and fresh aromas reminding me of autumn with dried cherry, allspice and baking pie crust. On the palate, I found sweet cherry tobacco and cedar on a balanced and delicate frame. The finish was medium long with red fruit and hint of copper penny. An amazing bottle of wine. (95 points)
1980 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio - The nose of this wine showed undergrowth and herbs with dusty dark fruit and a bit of old parchment paper. On the palate, I found tart yet delicate raspberry fruit, which led to a tannic anise finish that was a bit marred by acidity. (89 points)
2006 Szent Benedek Pinceszet Tokaji Remete - The nose showed apple and lemon curd with a mineral note. On the palate, I found fresh sour apple with hazelnut. This wine was rich yet refreshing all at once. (89 points)