Chianti Classico Reaches New Heights: Reflections on the 2019 Anteprime

Tuscany is my happy place. I am not alone in this I know well from the three years I lived in Florence and the throngs of people outside of my door everyday in the Oltr’arno. Sometimes, there were so many people, it was literally hard to get out of the front door. I mention this because I think people and here I include myself, get over familiar with Tuscany and Tuscany wines, especially Chianti. We know what familiarity breeds and in my case, it had led me to search out other wines and not follow Chianti’s development through the years as closely as I might have and for this, I now know I was sorely missing out.

These photos come from the Tuscan Anteprime this past February. It is a marvelous week in which you taste wines from all over Tuscany in situ. Two of the days are dedicated to tasting Chianti Classico in the Leopoldo Station in Florence. This gorgeous old station is filled with long tables and I believe 600 examples of Chianti Classico. I like these pictures because they give you a sense of the room and the vast number of Chianti Classico producers. The bottles look like little soldiers marching I always think.

The changing photos of the symbol of Chianti Gallo are just the right metaphor for what I noticed in the glass this year. This was their picture for 2019. Here’s the one from 2018.

I was lucky enough to attend both of these marvelous events and to see the evolution not only in the wines themselves but also in my own interest and development. In the past, as I mentioned, I might reach for a different more obscure Tuscan wine whereas the Chianti Classico from 2019 stole the show at the Anteprime. Everyone during the event tasted as many wines as they felt they needed to and in the order that they wanted to pursue.  I tasted with a group of Italian writers who work for one of the Italian guides, Vini Buon d’Italia, if memory serves and tried to stay up to their rhythm. I can say that of the 200 Chianti Classico that I tasted that day, almost every bottle was an exciting explosion of Tuscany for all of my senses. Dark cherry, rose, nuts, bramble, plums , earthiness, sometimes more spice sometimes a touch of oak but always a great structure with acidity, often minerality and enough tannin to carry it through to the finish line.

Just like this year’s design, the wines were elegant and more feminine in a way that I hadn’t remembered. Smooth and silky tannins on some of the wines and more rustic wines on the others but they all reminded me of what a noble city Florence and it’s surrounding areas can be.

The wine writers I was tasting with also suggested I take another look at the Gran Selezione category, telling me not to dismiss it as a marketing technique but to see it as more of a single vineyard or cru.  A number of writers in this group are posting about this category. I recommend reading those entries and exploring the classification.

Giovanni Manetti Chairman of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico

At the Anteprime we tasted many different vintages, riservas, gran selezione and the like. The more specific tasting and notes will be for a different day. Today’s post is more of a commentary on how all of the producers throughout these past years have upped their game and how Chianti Classico really is the noble wine from this part of Tuscany that must be on everyone’s table. It will be great with Thanksgiving foods too. I am going to get a bottle for my table. I am so thankful to have tried these wines in that setting and so many of them at once to know that I can’t go wrong when choosing one of these wines.

Many of the writers today are mentioning wines from Ricasoli. I sat next to the Baron at a dinner at Gurdulù, a  trendy Florentine restaurant, the evening of the Anteprime. Ever a gentleman, he jokingly corrected me when I said his ancestors were from 1700, saying I had taken 1000 years off his family history. I wanted to crawl under the table at my silly mistake but again, the Baron was a gentleman and laughed it off. The wines from that estate, which I haven’t visited but do know, are an exquisite example of what Chianti can be. I first met the Baron at a lunch in 2014. Here is a post I wrote about the wines and the estate back then. Rereading it, I see I did know the family dated back to the 7th century. It has been one of my most read posts throughout the years which is interesting.

Here are some facts about the area from the Chianti Classico Passport: (Press Kit Information from Anteprime)

Date of Birth: 1716 the borders delimited by Cosimo III, Grand Duchy of Tuscany

Place of Birth: The territory lying between the provinces of Florence and Siena that covers all of the municipalities of Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Greve in Chianti, Radda in Chianti and part of the municipalities of Barberino Val d’Elsa, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Poggibonsi, San Casciano in Val di Pesa and Tavarnelle Val di Pesa.

Total vineyard area: 10,000 ha/ 25,000 acres

Grapes permitted: Sangiovese min 80% -100%, other red grapes 0-20%

Average annual bottle output (over the past 10 years): 35-38 million  bottles a year

Consorzio Members: 523

Chianti Classico was exported to 130 countries in 2017, 33% of the exported bottles come to the US.

Posts from Fellow Italian Food, Wine and Travel Lovers on Chianti Classico and Tuscany. Please join us on Twitter at #ItalianFWT on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 11am ET.

5 thoughts on “Chianti Classico Reaches New Heights: Reflections on the 2019 Anteprime

Add yours

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us Susannah. I love that you were lucky enough to have dinner and chat with the Baron.

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