Tuesday, February 24. 2015
Three recently tasted examples of Chianti reminded me just how worthwhile the Riserva classified wines of this most famous Tuscan region can be. Two are from the venerable and highly respected house of Frescobaldi’s Nipozzano estate, located in the Chianti Rufina classification; not to be confused with the better known and larger region, Chianti Classico. The Nipozzano Riserva has long been a fixture on the NSLC General List and deservedly so. This wine has consistently delivered remarkably consistent style and reliable quality over many vintages.
The second wine, Nipozzano Vecchie Viti 2011, Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG is produced from the oldest vines of Castello di Nipozzano. Meticulously made in very limited production, this is a fine example of top winemaking bringing out the best qualities of regional style and terroir combined with the enhanced finesse and complexity that old vines can deliver.
Authentic wines produced by members of the consortium of Chianti Classico will always carry the prominent cockerel symbol, as shown on the left, around each bottle neck. The new premium level for the wines of Chianti Classico DOCG — Gran Selezione (Great Selection) is now an officially recognized classification of Chianti Classico. Gran Selezione is a new classification above Riserva, and must be made using grapes harvested only from the winery’s own vineyards, with more exacting requirements for alcohol levels, extract and aging.
It remains to be seen what the long-term impact of the new classification will be, but wines that have achieved the required standards so far, do appear to be of excellent quality and authentic regional style. The third wine tasted, Melini’s La Selvanella Chianti Classico Riserva 2010 DOCG did meet the necessary criteria and certainly represents an exemplary standard. My tasting notes for all three wines appear below.
Frescobaldi Nipozzano Riserva 2011, Chianti Rufina DOCG 13.5% $27.00 NSLC General List Primarily dark fruit comes through on the nose, with black cherry, some blackcurrant notes and subtle spice. Good fruit on the palate is delivered in a polished, well-structured and well-balanced package. Tannins are still somewhat aggressive and will benefit from another year or two in the cellar. Note: There are still some bottles of the 2010 vintage on the shelves. This vintage is more solidly structured and also needs more time to reach its peak. Both vintages are very good value. ***
Frescobaldi Nipozzano Vecchie Viti 2011, Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG $33.49 NSLC (9 Stores carrying Port of Wines inventory) While showing the Nipozzano character and style, this single vineyard, old vines example reveals the additional refinement, depth and complexity that older, low yielding vines can produce. Cherry and red berry fruits, floral and elegant spice are all apparent on the nose, with concentrated fine fruit in the mouth. Aged 24 months in oak casks and another 2 years in bottle and available in very limited quantities, it is well worth putting out the extra few dollars it will cost you. Drinking well now with food, but will continue to improve over the next 5-7 years. ***
Melini Vignetti La Selvanella 2010, Chianti Classico Riserva 14.5% $31.79 NSLC (8 Stores carrying Port of Wines inventory) La Selvinella, located in the commune of Rada in the heart of the Chianti Classico region, is the jewel of Melini’s estate vineyards. Great care has been taken in making this Single Estate wine in a very traditional style. Fine red fruit and spicy scents are combined with more rustic, slightly gamy notes. There is ample, generously ripe fruit on the well-textured palate but youthful dry tannins and somewhat brisk acidity need more time to fully integrate. Can be drunk with pleasure now but will definitely reward further cellaring. ***