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Tasting of barrel samples for the vintages 2020 and 2019

12 March 2022

As we have already mentioned in a previous article on this blog,

we regularly taste a sample from each barrique to check the integrity of the barrel and to prevent any problems that might occur during the maturation in oak.

Obviously, this is also a good way to understand the status of the wines that have not yet been bottled but that have already matured for one or two years in the cellar.

Therefore, I want to tell you about my impressions regarding the wines for the 2019 and 2020 vintages that we will bottle next.

Vintage 2019

Many of you already know from the Chianti Classico entry-level (also called Chianti Classico Annata) that this was a great vintage which was released last year.

I will not repeat the information about 2019 weather conditions (which we already mentioned here), but I can say that both the Riserva and the Gran Selezione are two exceptional wines in line with other 5-star vintages.

The Riserva 2019 is the first version of this wine where it has matured for one year in oak and one year in a ceramic vessel. The new material for maturation in the second year has given expected results by maintaining the freshness of the fruit and the dynamic taste. The Chianti Classico Riserva 2019 will be bottled in 2022 and it will be available to purchase from September onwards.

It is difficult to find the right words to describe the Gran Selezione 2019. It is a wine with a powerful structure, large in the mouth, fresh on the palate, and with a long aftertaste. We are very satisfied with the choice we made earlier in 2018 to define the final “recipe” for this wine (I explained this here).

We will need to wait a little longer for this wine, because even though it will also be bottled in June 2022, it will not be released before March 2024 to let it settle the appropriate amount of time in the bottle.

The Monteficalle IGT 2019 is already set to be bottled while I am writing this article, therefore, I will leave it up to you to ponder on it. I recommend you wait a couple of weeks before you taste it, however.

Vintage 2020

When talking about 2020, it is impossible to not think about the beginning of the pandemic, which was a difficult year for mankind but still quite generous in viticulture.

Although we were perilously close to being affected by the spring frost, the summer of 2020 was sunny and warm without any water stress thanks to the rain in June and September. The harvest of Sangiovese started on 21 September in anticipation of the bad weather that was expected at the end of the month.

Between the three categories of Chianti Classico, the entry-level is surely the one I am most happy with so far. While tasting the first samples, I had to check the label twice as it seemed to me that I was tasting the Riserva, when it was actually the Annata.

The Gran Selezione is still young; it needs to mature in the barrel for another year yet but you can feel that the material is there and is of premium class. It was just in 2020 that we started to produce a bit more Gran Selezione: three barriques instead of two. Next summer, we will thus bottle approximately 900 bottles instead of 600.

If we want to be nitpicking, it is the Riserva among the three Chianti Classico categories that has suffered a bit from an otherwise very generous year. In fact, the fermentation stretched out for a longer period than expected after the harvest due to the yeast that could not manage to turn around the last grams of sugar. This resulted in a small imperfection in the aromatic richness, especially in the aftertaste. However, we need to take into account that the wine we tasted today still needs to be tamed, and half of the Riserva 2020 will now be transferred to the ceramic vessels for one year. The other half will continue to mature in wood before it will be bottled in June 2023.

Also, the Monteficalle IGT 2020 has an opulent character in this vintage. It is very fruit-forward on the nose, both with red and dark fruit. The wine is a bit closed right now and will surely benefit from maturing in wood for another year.

The development of the last vintages

Earlier, I described 2018 and 2019 as two excellent vintages in a row, perhaps we can now add a third vintage with 2020?

If we think about the entry-level Chianti Classico, definitely yes, and let’s see if the other categories will confirm their high level after another year of maturation in the cellar, as well.