A couple of days ago Marco Pallanti was named the new president of the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium (Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico), which boasts that it represents 96 percent of the bottled wine of the region. I had to ask myself why he would do it.
Marco is a perfectionist, which is exhibited by the way he and his wife, Lorenza Sebasti, run their wine estate Castello di Ama. Their red wines--from simple Chianti to a super Tuscan that is pure Merlot--are consistently very good to outstanding quality, and their single-vineyard Chianti Classicos, Bellavista and La Casuccia, are benchmarks for the Chianti region and for Tuscany in general. For example, with the 2001 vintage, I scored those two wines 95 points and 93 points, respectively.
I guess Marco feels some sort of civic duty, and I only wish him the best. The Chianti Classico appellation, in my opinion, needs direction. It needs to focus on quality. There is still too much cheap and bad Chianti Classico in the market. And this tarnishes a name that could be as well regarded in the world as Brunello di Montalcino. Granted, the region is cooler than Montalcino – the harvest in Chianti can run as much as two weeks later -- and it is more difficult to grow good grapes there. So producers do have a handicap. But in my opinion, there are too many producers in Chianti Classico who don’t give a damn about making good wines and who abuse the good name of the region. Buying Chianti Classico is a minefield.
That said, in blind tastings this summer in my office, I found numerous very good to outstanding Chianti Classico Riservas from the 2003 vintage--mostly from producers we all know and trust. These wines are going to excite everyone who can lay their hands on them. I call them “Brunello Busters.” We are talking about Sangiovese-based wines (some may have dash of Merlot or something else) with ratings of 90 points and up that will sell for $35 and less. Brunellos are usually $60 or more. So stay tuned for more on this.
In the meantime, let’s wish the best for Marco. And hope that Chianti Classico can make some improvements as a region on the whole.
Brad Coelho — New York City — July 19, 2006 11:32am ET
Mark Bata — Canada — July 19, 2006 4:13pm ET
Filippo Recchi — Florence, Italy — July 20, 2006 8:43am ET
James Molesworth — July 20, 2006 5:13pm ET
Apj Powers — Dallas, TX — July 21, 2006 1:56am ET
Chan Soo Pak — Seoul/Korea — July 21, 2006 3:26am ET
Michael Culley — July 21, 2006 10:17am ET
Steven Balavender — Tampa, Fl — July 21, 2006 7:41pm ET
Bill Mccuskey — Wilmington, NC — July 21, 2006 9:53pm ET
Bobby Arifi — glenview,il — July 23, 2006 2:06pm ET
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