Social distancing and staying at home is a good excuse to go through the Eurocave and find some great bottles to enjoy during this unprecedented time. The other night, I selected the Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico Il Margone Gran Selezione 2011, for several reasons.
First and foremost, I wanted to show solidarity with our Italian producers who are struggling right now; if you are ordering wine at this time, please consider supporting them. I also have fond memories of visits to Il Molino di Grace and of its wonderful owners, Frank and Judy Grace and their sons, Tim and Daniel. They have a fabulous tree house where I have enjoyed two very memorable dinners.
My rule of thumb is that Chianti Classico of riserva or Gran Selezione quality needs at least five years after the vintage date to integrate and begin to reveal all its complexity and harmony. Now at about eight years old, six of those in the bottle, this Sangiovese is beginning to hit its sweet spot.
When the Chianti Classico region introduced the Gran Selezione concept in 2013, many producers chose to relabel their riserva-designated red with the new category. The minimum aging requirement for riserva is 24 months, for Gran Selezione 30 months, and many riservas already met the Gran Selezione aging standard, along with the stipulation that it be made only with estate-grown grapes.
Il Margone, which the Graces upgraded from riserva to Gran Selezione with the 2010 vintage, is a selection of their best Sangiovese grapes from the highest-elevation vineyards. It spends 20 months in French oak, 40 percent of that in new barrels, followed by six months in large casks and 24 months in bottle. (If you’d like to try it, the current release is the 2015 (94 points, $50).
The summer of 2011 was marked by a three-week heat wave, resulting in big, dense wines. Now, this wine has mellowed and absorbed the new oak, delivering plum, leather, tobacco, spice and woodsy notes on a broad frame, with a ripe core of fruit on the midpalate and excellent length. Though showing well now, it should maintain this plateau for the next decade—plenty of time for us to go out and gather once again and share it, and other favorite bottles, with family and friends.
Have your own wine story from recent weeks? Whether it’s pulling a special bottle from the cellar or enjoying a glass of a great value that you stockpiled, whether you shared it with close friends and family or savored it on your own, we want to hear from you. Share what you're drinking with us on our social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.