I’m not much of a Chianti fan, nor am I usually tempted by the higher accolade of ‘Classico’ either. It often feels like the famous name can be abused to cover up poor quality wine or is a free pass to whack a premium on the price (‘Chiantishire’ has a lot to answer for). So, I’m very pleased to have fallen in love with this stunning Chianti Classico. It’s concentrated and quite a serious wine, yet is deliciously drinkable and feels like it would go with most dishes – to be honest we hoovered up the bottle pretty quickly. On the nose, it has that typical sour cherries smell, but with a touch of herbs and something more substantial – figs, maybe? To taste, it’s full of fresh red fruit (cherries) –again, this should be typical with Chianti – but there’s much more to it, it’s quite plummy but also refined. The lovely tannins complement the peppery fruit and the soft floral notes.
So after this gushing approval, why the suspicion of Chianti? Well, it’s more to do with Sangiovese, the principal grape of the region. Sangiovese has developed a bad rep because it’s been overplanted, not just in Tuscany, and in places that does not suit its genetic makeup: it’s a sensitive little soul. For example, Sangiovese ripens relatively late, so planting it too high in mountainous parts of Tuscany is asking to get some vapid, acidic character. However, there has been a concerted drive recently to improve quality through a lot of re-planting with clones of Sangiovese that are better suited to the aspect, climate, soil and a whole host of inputs that can make a bottle of wine so unique.
By the way, Rocca de Montegrossi was set up by Marco Ricasoli, of the famous Ricasoli family: Barone Ricasoli devised the ‘recipe’ for the Chianti blend in the mid-19th century.
At a glance
- Style? Medium to full bodied red wine
- Where is it from? Chianti, Italy
- What’s the grape? 90% Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Colorino
- Tastes of? Cherries, damsons and a touch of pepper
- What food would complement it? Rustic tomato-based dishes such as Tomato, Basil & Red Onion Tart or pasta, risotto, roast vegetables