Monday, April 14, 2014

A Chianti Lovers Dream: The 2010 Riservas

The '95 Felsina Chianti Classico
Riserva is still going strong at age 19
An article by: Eric Guido

Some wine is meant for the cellar, while most can go right to the table. But these generalizations tend to fade when talking about Chianti Classico. In their youth, these are fun and fruity wines with enough acidity and structure to carry a meal. However, as they mature they soften, grow darker, and begin to display more earth, natural wood and spice. It is this evolution that keeps me putting bottles of Chianti Classico in the cellar.  In a good vintage, it is one of the most versatile wines being made today.  However, where a regular Chianti Classico (normale) will bring you night after night of enjoyment at your dinner table, the Riserva level wines mature beautifully in the cellar.  Which brings us to the 2010 Chianti Classico Riservas.

Classic is a word often used to describe the long, cool growing season in 2010, with a decent amount of rain moderated by periods of extended warmth and sunshine. This mix produced exciting wines of structure with juicy acidity and bright, focused fruit that really grabs your attention and holds it from the first glass through the last. Most of the straight Chianti Classico's are drinking beautifully right now, yet the 2010 vintage played right into winemakers' hands, allowing them to create Riserva level wines of exceptional quality and agebility. These are serious Chianti Classico that show the best qualities of the region and belong in your cellar. The early drinking 2011 vintage will give you more to drink over the next few years, but for me; stocking up on 2010 is my priority, because these wines should provide two decades (or more) of enjoyment.

Here's a list of some of the best 2010 Chianti Classico Riservas, in a number of price ranges, that I've tasted this year.

On To The Tasting Notes:

2010 San Giusto a Rentennano Chianti Classico Le Baroncole - The nose showed an intense burst of woodsy raspberry and cherry with hints of floral undergrowth, cedar and herbs, offset by a whiff of dark chocolate. On the palate, this showed silky textures with a vibrant, sexy personality, coating the senses with ripe red fruits and spice. Beneath it all was a refined structure that you could miss on a single sip under all that intense fruit. The finish turned fresh, yet grainy tannin could still be felt on the palate. This was a remarkably balanced wine with a slight inflection of oak, that's drinking great now, but should get even better with time. (94 points) Find it on: Wine-Searcher! (avg. $45)

2010 Fontodi Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna del Sorbo - The nose was restrained at first, yet became more giving with time in the decanter. Tart black cherry, moist fall leaves, dried flowers and licorice were all on display, yet still holding back. On the palate, it was tense, yet concentrated and dark with compact cherry, wood (not oak) and leather notes, kept in check by a stern tannic backbone. The finish was youthful and ungiving, needing years in the cellar to show it’s true colors, yet the potential is there. This is a wine for the cellar. (94 points) Find it on: Wine-Searcher! (avg. $75)

2010 Fattoria di Fèlsina Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva - The nose was restrained and youthful, showing young cherry, dried flowers, animal musk, minerals, and Tuscan dust. On the palate, it showed silky textures with tart cherry and dried spices, which quickly firmed up with fine-grained tannin. Compact flavors of red fruit and cedar lingered long on the dry, tense finish. This 2010 riserva is in need of five to ten years in the cellar, and should be wonderfully classic as it matures. (92 points) Find it on: Wine-Searcher! (avg. $27)

2010 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva - The nose showed cherry with hints of stem, animal musk and a bright herbal note, which provided lift. On the palate, I found vibrant red fruits, spice, old wood tones and hints of soil. The finish showed hints of structure with juicy red fruits.  This is a great Chianti Classico Riserva in the value category; it's drinking great now with proper decanting, and can go a decade or more in the cellar. (91 points) Find it on: Wine-Searcher! (avg. $20)

2010 Antinori Chianti Classico Villa Antinori Riserva - The nose showed ripe black cherry, minty herbs, cedar and dark oak looming in the background. On the palate, it was rich yet remained fresh throughout. Spicy red fruit, leather and notes of dark chocolate cascaded along the palate, leaving concentrated red berry fruit on the finish. Although the oak was more pronounced than I usually prefer, I still found it enjoyable. This wasn't my cup of tea, but if oak with your Sangiovese is a quality you appreciate, this wine will be for you. (89 points) Find it on: Wine-Searcher! (avg. $32)

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