Monday, November 25, 2013

The Difference a Vintage Can Make

Two very different wines and two very different vintages,
both beautiful for different reasons.
Any reader of mine will know that I am a huge fan of Chianti Classico. Years of trail and error, let downs and happy surprises, have left me with some very firm opinions about Chianti and Sangiovese from Tuscany in general. For one thing, many of these wines can age, as we will see from 2010. Yet, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with young Chianti, when made in a more open style or from a more accessible vintage, like 2011.

This brings me to San Giusto a Rentennano Chianti Classico, which is traditionally styled Chianti made from Sangiovese (95%) and a small amount of Canaiolo (5%). I decided to do a little side-by-side comparison tonight of the 2010 and 2011 vintages. Two very different wines, both marked by the vintages from which they hail. However, there’s also a little something more. In 2011, portions of the grapes added to the wine were whole clusters (stems and all), a practice found often in Burgundy, but seldom in Tuscany. The difference is quite noticeable and worth tasting for exploratory purposes alone.

In the end, these are both beautiful wines, for very different reasons, and I look forward to following them throughout the years. I would hope my readers would give them a chance as well.

On To The Notes:

2010 San Giusto a Rentennano Chianti Classico – The nose was radiant and dark showing rich black cherry, hints of cedar, undergrowth and crushed fall leaves. On the palate, it was tight yet focused with tart red fruits, spice and herbs. Vibrant acidity kept the mouth watering, yet this wine needs a couple of years in the cellar to unwind. The finish showed a bitter twang with drying tannin coating the senses. This was enjoyable, but more for it’s, possible, future potential than it’s performance tonight. (90 points) Find it on: Wine-Searcher! (avg. cost $20)

2011 San Giusto a Rentennano Chianti Classico – The nose was bright and vibrant, showing tart cherry, stemmed strawberries, and autumnal spice with hints of pine. On the palate, it caressed the senses with soft red fruits accompanied by textbook Sangiovese acidity. This wine practically sizzled on the palate, with notes of cedar, herbs and spice. The finish was refined, showing hints of structure, yet fully enjoyable today. (91 points) Find it on: Wine-Searcher! (avg. cost $20)

The 2010 is tight and tart, a wine that I’d love to revisit in a few years. If the fruit unwinds and catches up with the absolutely beautiful bouquet, then this wine could one day be gorgeous. The 2011 is more open, yet still a stern, acid driven Sangiovese. Today, I’d reach for the 2011, without question. Yet, I have a feeling that the 2010 will improve for years to come.


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