Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format
bullet
bullet

 

STORE HOURS

MONDAY 9-7
TUES-SAT  9-7:30


Closed Sundays

 

NEBBIOLO LANGHE
BARGAIN

SALUMI-WORTHY
FIZZY RED LAMBRUSCO

GODELLO!

TOP PICK OF CHÂTEAUNEUFS

SPANISH WHITE...NOT
ALBARIÑO or TXAKOLINA

AROMATIC PIEMONTESE RED: RUCHÈ

DELICIOUS 2018 TAVEL ROSÉ

NEGRETTE & A GRACIANO/MOURVEDRE BLEND VINIFIED IN SAN FRANCISCO

DAMNED GOOD CHIANTI CLASSICO

CRU BARBARESCO FROM A NEWISH WINERY--Sale Priced

NEW, SINGLE VINEYARD
SANCERRE

GORGEOUS GEWÜRZTRAMINER

BEST BUYS
Good Wines for $5-$15

CAPOVILLA
OUTSTANDING GRAPPA

FAVARO ERBALUCE
Cool Italian White

CABERNET VALUE

AMAZING ALBARIÑO

SOULFUL RED RHÔNE

SURPRISINGLY GOOD TEN BUCK MERLOT

BIGFOOT CABERNET

CHAMPAGNE DE
MERFY

A FIESTA OF A TEMPRANILLO

OBSCURE ITALIAN RED

CIÙ CIÙ
PECORINO

COOL VERDEJO

ELEVEN BUCK
AMADOR ZIN

STYLISH WASHINGTON MERLOT

STELLAR NEW ARTISAN RIOJA

NICE LITTLE PINOT $9.99

CASTELÃO BARGAIN

STELLAR BLAUFRÄNKISCH ESTATE

COLORFUL ZIN

WHITE BURGUNDIES OF NOTE

MARSANNE BARGAIN

CHERRYISH TUSCAN RED SALE $12.99

PROSECCO FOR ADULTS

BILLIONAIRE'S WINES UNDER $30!

BARGAIN WHITE BORDEAUX

TOP OF THE LINE
CREMANT

RESERVE QUALITY RIOJA

BARBERA OF NOTE

SUPER VERONESE SALE $12.99

PIEMONTE'S GRAND VIN BIANCO?

GREAT GRUNER VELTLINER

GOOD ELEVEN-BUCK CHIANTI

FLOWERY, CURIOUS RED

OLD PATCH RED
ZIN BLEND

MONCUIT'S GRAND CRU CHAMPAGNE

HONEYED MUSCAT

Napa Valley Grape Info
2002

2010

Amazing FRENCH CIDERS

FIZZY LAMBRUSCO

 

 

HOME PAGE

AMERICAN WINES

CALIFORNIA PINOT NOIRS

RHONE WANNABEES

ZINFANDELS

SAUVIGNON BLANCS

MERLOTS

OREGON WINES

CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS

CALIFORNIA CABERNETS

RIESLING & GEWURZ

WASHINGTON STATE

CANADIAN WINES

Adventuresome  Wines

ROSÉS !!

FRENCH WINES
ALSACE
BEAUJOLAIS
RED BORDEAUX
WHITE BORDEAUX
RED BURGUNDY
WHITE BURGUNDY
RHÔNE VALLEY
THE FRENCH ALPS
SOUTH OF FRANCE

LOIRE


CHAMPAGNE

 

ITALIAN WINES
PIEMONTE

VALLE D'AOSTA

NORTHERN ITALY

CENTRAL ITALIA

TUSCANY

SOUTHERN ITALIA

SICILIA


SPANISH WINES
Spanish Sherry
& Other Delights


PORTUGUESE WINES

SWISS WINES

GERMAN WINES

AUSTRIAN WINES

ARGENTINA

CHILE

AUSTRALIA

NEW ZEALAND

SOUTH AFRICA

OBSCURE WINES

DESSERT WINES

CHAMPAGNES

HALF-BOTTLES

SPIRITS

CIDERS

BEER
Even Real "Bud"!

OTHER STUFF

WINE TASTING

WHAT'S OPEN


UPCOMING TASTINGS

TASTING RESULTS
  
NEWSLETTER

SHIPPING INFO

ETC.

 

TASTING REPORTS

HOW TO ORGANIZE A BLIND-TASTING

BLIND TASTING ARCHIVE

MY 2013 EURO WINE ADVENTURE BOOK

CHATEAU MONTELENA "DREAM TASTING"
January 2018

CHATEAU MONTELENA
VERTICAL


ALBA WINES EXHIBITION 2007

ALBA WINES EXHIBITION 2008

SCHRAMSBERG vs THE FAMOUS FRENCH

German Wine "Master Class" Tasting

UNIQUE VERTICAL TASTING OF VOLLRADS RIESLINGS
1945-2015


S & M FOR WINETASTING GEEKS

TEAR-WAH
TASTING

2018 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2017 SF
INTERNATIONAL
WINE 
COMPETITION

2016 SF
INTERNATIONAL
WINE COMPETITON

2015 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2014 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2013 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2012 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2011 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2010 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2009 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2008 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION
Periodically Amazing

2007 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION
The Nose Knows!

2006 SF INTERNATIONAL  WINE COMPETITION.
SPIT HAPPENS

2005 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION.

2004 SF WINE COMPETITION TASTING

The 2003 SF WINE COMPETITION

2002 SF WINE COMPETITION TASTING 

A Vertical Tasting of Nalle Zinfandels

 

 

ETC.

RANTINGS & RAVINGS

WINE ROADS of EUROPE

Food/Wine/Friends
A Photo Gallery

MASTER OF WINE ESSAY TOPICS

Old Bottles: A TASTE OF HISTORY

Bob's Venetian Diary

Bob's Paris Notes Updated Spring 2007

Wine Writer's Confession

NEW "CULT" WINERY

Some Restaurant Reviews

HOW TO SELL WINE.
Info For Brokers and
Wine Distributors.

HOW TO HOLD A TRADE TASTING

$100,000 WORTH OF WINE MARKETING ADVICE:  FREE!
Mainly for Foreign Vintners

MOLDY CORKS

Study Reveals Experts Taste More Than What's In the Glass!

OKANAGAN VALLEY WINE TOUR-2010

BRIAN'S 2005 SUMMER VACATION WITH UNCLE

Gerald's Tour de France 2006

GERALD'S TOUR DE FRANCE 2008

A TOUR OF PORTUGAL-2009

HOW TO SPEAK BETTER ITALIAN

PEDRONCELLI
90th ANNIVERSARY

PONZI'S 40th
ANNIVERSARY

VINITALY

ROOSEVELT'S 2005 CHILI COOK-OFF

ROOSEVELT'S 2007 CHILI COOK-OFF

Grape Goddess

Ross Bruce Birthday

ALESSIA DALL'U

FRANCESCA & CAROLA
CALLIGARO


CCIV

FAQs

BURLINGAME

Links

More Tuscan Wines

 

CAPRILI

This is one of the real gems in Montalcino and it seems the neighbors (and competitors) have great respect for the work done by the Bartolommei family as well as their Brunello wines.

The family had been in various locales in Tuscany for decades, but it was only in 1965 that they actually became land owners and started planting vineyards.  It was not until 1978 that they vinified their own wine and it was in 1983 when this first vintage was offered to the market.
The Brunello from Caprili has been consistently good.  So-called "small" or lesser vintages have been remarkably good and the wines really shine in top years.  The 1999 was a fantastic bottle and so was the 2001.   

In 2019 we had a chance to taste the 2002 vintage.  This was a really difficult year and rains pretty much washed out the crop.  Yet the wine Caprili made was still showing well and it was still alive and kicking.

Young Giacomo Bartolommei put a bottle of the 1994 on the table and we sarcastically said "Oh, another hall of fame vintage!"  
He laughed but that bottle was also remarkable.

The 1997 was a very warm vintage, so perhaps it won't last quite as long, but that wine was quite showy at nearly 12 years of age.

We also found 2004 and 2006 to be exceptional...but we've tasted every vintage they've made over the past decade+ and the wines are solid every year.  

Visiting the cellars in 2019, we were treated to a bottle of the 2001 vintage.  This may have been the best Tuscan wine of our trip.  Fantastically good, with still good acidity and tannin.
 

Some new tanks since it's apparently obligatory for Italian wineries to have concrete "eggs" or something new.

The new cellars at Caprili are impressive.


 



We have the 2012 in the shop presently.  This is a fine bottle at this early stage and it's destined to be a "grand" bottle if you have some patience and can cellar it for a decade, or so.  They vinify in stainless steel and then transfer the wine to large Slavonian oak.

 

The Brunello is fermented using indigenous yeasts.  After the primary fermentation, it's transferred into those large Slavonian oak tanks (above) and aged for 36 months, or so, before bottling.  

The 2012 strikes me as a shade darker in color than typical Sangiovese.  The wine is also a bit fuller in body than standard Brunello and it's got plenty of dark berry fruit and a mild spice note.  The acidity will carry this wine for years and it's the sort of wine one hopes to be able to enjoy ten or twenty years from now!  

The Riserva is a fantastic bottle...if you open one now, please decant it an hour or two before dinner...or stash it in the cellar for five to ten more years!

Currently in stock:  2012 CAPRILI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO  (list $75)  SALE $59.99
2004 CAPRILI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO RISERVA  (list $100) Sold Out


Paolo, Paola and Dad


Paolo in 2019...you can easily see they take of the vineyards in proper fashion...


The 2014 vintage is a bit of challenge and a number of wineries skipped bottling 2014.
Caprili was magnificent, though.
They had only 60% of the normal production but managed to make a seriously good bottle.


Paolo pours a 2001 Riserva...that was a grand bottle!


Sunset at Caprili


 

 

 

 


CASTELL'IN VILLA
We've long been fans of this exceptional estate in the southeastern part of the Chianti Classico zone.

It's a large estate a bit north and east of Siena.  

The property encompasses 298 hectares of land, with about 50 in vines (14 are recently replanted) and 32 in olives.  

We first became fans back in the 1970s and the wines were well-regarded back then and the estate was rather prominent, even with big names such as Ruffino and Antinori as the major brands from Chianti.  

The owner is the Principessa Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa.  She's born in Greece, grew up in Switzerland and married an Italian fellow who was his country's ambassador to Algeria (if memory serves).  He died in the mid-1980s and the Principessa has been running things ever since.  It's a major undertaking and her wines are more well-known amongst serious Tuscan wine aficionados than they are to casual Italian wine fans.

One of her former American importers described her as "difficult."  She's a bit of a perfectionist and she's accustomed to having things go her way.  (Why not?)  I recall, on our very first visit, asking about the use of Trebbiano in the Chianti, as then was mandated by law.

She explained that she cultivated Trebbiano vineyards, solely so she could say she was following the legal requirements in making Chianti Classico.  But she was not about to "water down" her wonderful wine by adding Trebbiano.  The laws, of course, have since been changed and the Principessa's enlightened view of winemaking has been adopted by top producers in Chianti.

Her wines have never been inexpensive and she's insistent on having low yields in the vineyards as a means of producing superior quality Sangiovese.  And while many Chianti producers seek to make wines for those who don't really "understand" Sangiovese (and so they blend Cabernet Sauvignon into their wine so it tastes more familiar to someone who, well, drinks Cabernet), Castell'in Villa's is purely Sangiovese.


The Principessa is early 2019



This is why the wine is so marvelous, on one hand, and a bit difficult from a sales standpoint.  The average bear wants bigger, soft, round fruit bombs-of-a-wine with coffee, mocha and vanilla...Castell'in Villa Chianti is snappy, dry, somewhat acidic and well short of "full-bodied."  It's aged in large neutral cooperage, not small French oak barrels.

 

The estate produces a "classic" Chianti.  It's entirely Sangiovese and it's a medium-bodied wine which is dry, moderately acidic and mildly tannic.  In a world with so many wines made to taste like "candy," this can be a shocking bottle!  There's the hallmark cherry aroma of Sangiovese, with zippy, zesty acidity and the wine is not at all heavy or ponderous.  It's a delight with good food, however and it's a wine intended for the table, not as a "cocktail."

We find these age handsomely.

We tasted a 2010 in Europe in March of 2015...I was eyeing the young German enologist with whom I visited, waiting to see if his impression of the wine matched mine...it seemed like it was corked.  
The Principessa took issue with this assessment saying "my wine can't be corked.  No...it's not corked..." And then a moment later she said "But I'm not buying corks from that company ever again!"

So we are unsure about the 2010... but tasting it here a few times we did not find it to be an issue.

The 2015 has recently arrived.  It's a beauty!  It is worthy of the term "Classico," not solely because it comes from the Classico region, but because the wine is a classic.
It is showing well presently and it should continue to blossom over the next 5 to 10 years.  This is a winner.

 



The 2006 Riserva is magnificent...it, like many vintages of Castell'in Villa is quite structured and tannic.  You really do need to open it ahead of time, splash it around in a decanter and let it air for an hour or two.  But it can be a memorable bottle when paired with a grilled steak or a prime rib of beef, grilled lamb, etc.

The 2003 Riserva is blossoming nicely.  This has deeper fruit than the normale.  Cherry/red plums and an underlying spice tone characterize this wine.  It's medium-full bodied and a delight.  You can pair it with a simple grilled steak or show it off with a selection of cheeses.  We opened a bottle recently at an Italian-themed dinner and even the folks who don 't usually drink wine of this style were demanding a second pour of this!

The 2001, at 15 years of age, is still youthful and doesn't show its age.  We tasted this in April of 2016 and this can easily be cellared another decade, or two.  Easily.  Very fine and elegant.  If you want to enjoy a bottle in the near future, do decant it and give the wine some air.  Pair it with a good steak or roast...it is a noble red wine!

Castell'in Villa's 1986 displays the brickish orange coloring of a mature Chianti.  The nose is quite complex, offering a slightly meaty quality, with an earthy tone.  There's a faintly woodsy element here, too.  It remains crisply acidic and even a bit tannic.  Very fine.  Tasted in April of 2016.

The 1971 Reserva, tasted in April of 2016, was a bit brownish in color.  The fragrances are beautifully sweet and complex.  It is old and ready to drink, but this still is alive.  There's great acidity to this with a touch of tannin.  Very fine!  

When the wines have decades of bottle aging, they take on a whole different personality.  You'll find the color to show its age, with some brickish tones on the robe.  The nose shows faint cherry aromas with scents of tobacco and a mildly tarry element...it blossoms nicely in the glass (and is best decanted).  Consider some sort of braised or stewed meats with this and having some dried porcini in the 'stew' is a good idea.  The wine is dry and despite its age, still has some nice 'bite' to it.  It's a wonderful taste of history.

But keep in mind, these are not wines which are universally-appealing.  If you're "in tune" with good, old-fashioned Sangiovese, you'll probably appreciate these.  Fans of Rombauer Zinfandel or Silver Oak Cabernet are likely to be disappointed.  

Currently in stock:  2015 CASTELL'IN VILLA CHIANTI CLASSICO  $29.99
1986 CASTELL'IN VILLA CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA SALE $189.99
2003 CASTELL'IN VILLA CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA  (List $65)  SALE $59.99
2005 CASTELL'IN VILLA CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA  $74.99
2006 CASTELL'IN VILLA CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA  (List $65)  SALE $59.99
2001 CASTELL'IN VILLA CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA SALE $119.99

 




The Principessa with Pierre Sicard and Giulia Masi.

CLICK HERE TO SEE SOME PIECES OF GIANNI FANELLO'S SCULPTURES
WHICH WERE DISPLAYED AT CASTELL'IN VILLA IN 2011-2012

 
 




Monsanto is the name of a small village in the Chianti Classico region.
 


 


MONSANTO
monsanto.gif (13721 bytes)Owned by the Bianchi family, the Monsanto estate covers about 390-something acres, of which less than one-third are vineyards.  The property is down the road from Isole e Olena and has been under the current ownership since 1961.  

It is not, by the way, affiliated with the large "agrochemical" or "agricultural biotech" giant called Monsanto.  The name being the same has made it difficult for this smallish, family-operated Tuscan winery to find a market in the US, beyond those who are "in the know."


We've been tasting their wines for many years and usually find the famous "Il Poggio" to be one of the most structured and cellarworthy bottlings in Chianti.  The wines have become somewhat more refined over the past decade, but they are not "easy" Sangioveses which are intended for immediate drinking.  

I can't say the Monsanto wines are made with an eye towards receiving high numerical scores from various wine critics.  They seem intent on making wines which are traditionally-styled and which are true to their vineyard origins.  If these get a nice review, I am certain the Bianchi family is happy.  But you won't find wines which are tailored for the American market.

On our first visit (about 30+ years ago) we were offered, along with some other guests (who didn't seem like they really cared whether the wines poured were good or not), Monsanto's 1972.   This was an unusual wine!  It had an almost honey-like aroma. 

Fabrizio Bianchi later opened his 1973 Chianti.  Another odd wine, to say the least. 

Finally we learned why Bianchi pulled out of the Consorzio of Chianti Classico producers back in those days.   

It seemed that organization had the "say" as to when the fruit could be harvested.  Bianchi, who says his vineyards produce a modest crop level, was ready to pick in both 1972 and 1973.  Cultivating fewer grapes per acre than others, his fruit was more advanced in ripeness and was ready to pick.

"Not yet!" said the Consorzio, accustomed to monitoring vineyards being grown for maximum yields, not quality wine.  As a result, those vines were well behind Signor Bianchi's in terms of ripeness or maturity.

In both vintages, it rained on his healthy fruit, causing the spread of mold and rot.   So, Bianchi made Chianti wines in both vintages which had Botrytis cinerea (noble rot). 
Finally, disgusted with this system of paying dues to a group which was hampering his ability to make fine wine, Bianchi withdrew his membership.  Others vintners followed, by the way. 
So, for a time, bottles of Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico wines did not have the Gallo Nero symbol on them.


They still have a cellar full of the two botrytized vintages of Chianti!


Laura Bianchi, who runs the estate, shows off the famed "Il Poggio" vineyard.


Laura Bianchi atop their observation platform where you can view many of the vineyards in the Monsanto area.

 

 


Please notice the soil below the vines has been turned and there's not dead vegetation as a result of spraying herbicides...


 


When I visited the estate a few years ago, the cellars were rather new and pristine...and they still are!


Temperature controlled fermentation tanks...





Large, neutral Slavonian oak is used to mature the Chianti Classico wines.




Small French oak...they use these for their Riserva wines as well as their Cabernet, Nemo.


Various galleries took years to construct.

 

 


Laura shows off a prized vintage of Il Poggio Chianti Classico.


Daughter and Laura...many years ago.

 


Tasting in 2019...that unlabeled bottle was from the 1970 vintage!



The 2004 IL POGGIO Chianti Classico is a gem...though it's a bit of a 'rough & tumble' sort of red wine.  In fact, Monsanto routinely made Sangiovese wines with the ferocity of Piemontese Nebbiolo!   

I purchased a bottle of their 2007 Il Poggio and found this wine, much like the 2006, to be a wine of a whole different structure!  The wine is rather showy and nicely woodsy, with cedar tones intermingling with the cherry notes of the Sangiovese.  It's dry and medium+ bodied, with much softer tannins than in the 2004 and earlier vintages.


Currently in stock:  2004 MONSANTO "Il Poggio" CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA   (list $60) SALE $49.99

 
 

 



POGGERINO
The Poggerino estate is a small property near Radda in Chianti that's run by Piero Lanza.  This fellow is truly what we can call a "wine grower," for unlike most vintners who sell wine or winemakers who merely vinify grape juice, this guy "grows" wine.

When I have visited the place (a couple of times), Piero is always out in the vineyards.  And a winemaker friend who's very familiar with the Tuscan enological landscape has great respect for the wines Lanza makes, saying Piero is a top-notch viticulturist.  

The property comprises about 11 hectares of vines.  It's nearly all Sangiovese, though he makes a Super-Tuscan that's half Merlot.   Chianti wines here are exemplary showcases for good, traditionally-made, non-internationally-styled Sangiovese.  

Lanza bleeds off some juice to intensify his wine, but the Poggerino Chianti already has a fair bit of stuffing and pretty good structure.  That's not to say the wines are hugely tannic, because they're not.  He manages to balance them quite nicely.

The vineyard was planted in the 1970s and someone decided having the traditional white grapes for Chianti was a good idea.  Over the years, this situation has been corrected and Poggerino Chianti is pretty much Sangiovese with no international varieties to make the wines seem like they're made in California or other New World locales.  Nor are these watered down with Trebbiano...

We currently have Piero's 2004 vintage Chianti Classico.  If you're interested in tasting a wine that's a bit of a throw-back, this would be a good bottle to try. It's a serious Sangiovese and a wine of great integrity.   Very fine...


Currently in stock:  POGGERINO 2004 CHIANTI CLASSICO Sold Out


Piero Lanza and his lovely sister, Benedetta in April 2008.



SAN FABIANO CALCINAIA

We can say the Chianti of this estate is "molto Serio," because, in fact, the man who owns the place is named Guido Serio.  

He purchased the property in 1983 and set about making improvements, investments, renovating the cellar, etc.  They're located southeast of Poggibonsi and west of Castellina in Chianti if you're familiar with the geography.  And even if you aren't familiar with the lay of the land, that's still where they are.

The vineyards are in the area of Castellina and the property comprises approximately 165.3 hectares, about 25% of which are devoted to wine.  The rest are farmed for grain, olives or simply left 'wild'.  The holdings are a bit divided, with the Cellole property being just west of Castellina, while the winery and their other operations (several guest apartments and a small osteria) being to the southwest, a short drive east from Poggibonsi.

We found their 2008 Chianti Classico to be quite good.  Many 2008s seem out of balance to some degree--many strike us as a bit empty.  The San Fabiano bottling is medium-bodied and shows the classic character of good Chianti: cherryish fruit and snappy acidity, making it a nice partner for pasta, pizza or simple grilled meats.  It's drinkable immediately and will remain in good condition for several years. 

The Riserva is called "Cellole" and the 2007 is spectacular.  The wine comes from an 8 hectare vineyard site near Castellina.  The wine has a small percentage of Merlot in the blend and it's matured in French oak, some of the barrels being brand new and others having had one wine in them.  
We brought a bottle to a dinner in Milano after visiting San Fabiano and it was paired alongside a couple of 2004 Brunello wines from good estates...and the Cellole was the wine of the night!

Currently in stock:  SAN FABIANO CALCINAIA  2008 CHIANTI CLASSICO Sold Out
SAN FABIANO CALCINAIA 2007 "CELLOLE" CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA Sold Out

Beautiful vineyards near the winery...


LE RAGNAIE

The Le Ragnaie estate is situated less than 3 kilometers south of the town of Montalcino and it's one of the leading naturalista producers in the area.  The winery is about 2 kilometers southwest of the famous Biondi-Santi estate.

Riccardo and Jennifer Campinoti purchased the Le Ragnaie property in 2002, though it's reported the first bottled vintages were made in 1991 by the previous owner.

The name of the estate comes from its having been a famous area for bird catchers or hunters.  But these people would look to ensare birds not by shooting them, apparently, but by capturing them in a special sort of net which was said to resemble a spider's web.  Spider, in Italian, is a "ragno," hence the name of the property, Le Ragnaie.

The Campinotis have somewhere between 14 and 17 hectares of vineyards.  The winery (and its agriturismo apartments) are at a fairly high elevation and this has a major influence on the character and style of the Le Ragnaie Brunello.  Riccardo has vineyard in four locales, we're told during a visit in March of 2019.  


Some years ago Campinoti purchased vineyards in the Castelnuovo dell'Abate area in southwest Montalcino...those sites are warmer than at the home estate property.  The highest sites on the home property are more than 600 meters above sea level, higher than has been legally allowed for Brunello.  With warmer vintages, though, the Consorzio is looking to possibly amend this restriction to allow fruit from those vines to be incorporated in the Brunello.

Being a fan of Burgundy, Campinoti has the idea of bottling a single-vineyard or "cru" wine.  That's called "Fornace" and it's from the Castelnuovo dell'Abate area.  There's also a "V.V." bottling from Vecchie Vigne (old vines).  These are close to 50 years of age and they're from the home base area near the winery.  They only make a couple of hundred cases of that wine as we understand it.

We have periodically had Le Ragnaie's regular bottling of Brunello in the shop.  

Currently we have the 2013 Brunello di Montalcino.  It's an elegant red and, at this stage, needs to be decanted and allowed maybe an hour or two of aeration.    It's brickish garnet in color giving the impression the wine has a bit of maturity, but it's still young and a bit tight.  There's good acidity which should allow it to cellar for another decade, or so.  There's a note of cherry fruit from the Sangiovese and maybe some underlying herbal tones, too.  


When they started, small oak was employed, but Campinoti realized larger wood vats would allow the character of the fruit and a measure of "terroir" to show.



Currently in stock:  2013 LE RAGNAIE BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO  $74.99 


As you can see from this snapshot just outside the Le Ragnaie cellar, it's a fairly high elevation site.
Maybe you can't see that from this photo...

 

 


LUCE
I'm not sure I can shed much light on Luce, which began as a collaborative project of Robert Mondavi and Tuscany's Frescobaldi family.  They have a property in Montalcino; some vineyards are owned by the firm, others are rented.  

In an effort to create a Tuscan "Opus One," they're blending Merlot with Sangiovese (or Brunello, if you prefer).   While the wine is beautifully packaged, I can't honestly say I find the wine to be as extraordinary as its price might indicate.  

The wine seems to have all the charm of a California Merlot.   It's a wine from a "royal" wine family making royally-priced wines for those who aspire to rub elbows with the "elite."  As a result, eighty bucks affords one this opportunity.

I suspect they call the wine "Luce" (light) as when you buy a bottle, your wallet is much lighter.


A smaller version, dubbed "Lucente," is nicely made $15-$20 red wine for which they ask closer to $25.
Currently available:  2014 LUCE  SALE $109.99





Castagnoli

 

CASTAGNOLI


There is a Rocca di Castagnoli in the Chianti Classico region.

But this is not Rocca di Castagnoli, it's just "Castagnoli."

World of difference, too.

This estate is owned by a German fellow who, amongst other things, makes a bit of wine in Deutschland.  Alfred Schefenacker bought Castagnoli from another German fellow, a guy named Doebelin.

It's a property just a mile, or so, from Castellina in Chianti.  Soils are galestro and Pietraforte, a very hard sandstone from which numerous Florentine building are constructed.  With well-drained soils and the reflective nature of the Pietraforte, the vines tend to produce small crops and, interestingly, smaller-than-normal Sangiovese grapes.  This means there's a greater skin-to-juice ration and probably accounts for the remarkable intensity of the Chianti here.  The estate has maybe 12 hectares of vineyards and seven, or so, of olives.  The rest is forestland.
The agricultural practices are beyond organic, so the wines from this estate can be called "biologico."


The property is run by a local Tuscan lady, Sonia Ermini.   Her Mom grew up at Le Filigare and Dad came from Casa Emma, two prominent Chianti estates.  She's definitely got Sangiovese in her veins.

Add to the mix, a consulting winemaker who "studied" at Ca' del Bosco, Antinori, Montellori and Isole e Olena. 
Giampaolo Chiettini works with a number of good wineries these days and more than a few told us they appreciate his advice as he doesn't put his fingerprints on their wines, but allows them to develop on their own, expressing their places of origin.

(This may sound pretty simplistic, but we've tasted wines from a few of the more famed consultants and their wines often have a similar character whether they come from Tuscany, Sicily, Umbria or Lazio for example.)

We tasted through their range of wines in April of 2019 while in Italy and found the Castagnoli bottlings to be very good.  

Once back home, we tasted the 2015 Chianti Classico with the staff and this got the thumbs up from all of us.

The vineyards are not terribly old for their normale Chianti Classico.  The oldest parcel was planted in 1993 and the youngest in 2010.

This vintage is entirely Sangiovese, though we noted the 2016 has 10% Syrah.  In any case, the wine sits on the skins during the fermentation and beyond, having about three weeks of skin contact.  The wine is then matured in Slavonian oak vats and French puncheons and barrels. 

There are red and black fruit notes to the 2015 and it's fuller than most Chianti Classico, save for those blended with Cabernet.  For us this shows a more "noble" aspect of Sangiovese.  That is to say, this is not merely a "Spaghetti Red."  It's got more class and character.

The 2015 is showing quite handsomely at present and it can likely be cellared into 2025, or so.

Currently in stock:  2015 CASTAGNOLI Chianti Classico  $25.99




 








RIECINE
This estate was carved out of a small patch of vines sold by the Coltibuono folks to John Dunkley, a British gentleman who "retired" to Tuscany long before it was fashionable to do so.    

I first met him in the mid to late 1980s and we had a nice chat about how Chianti was perceived in the American market.  At the time, the British had no idea good wine was made in Italy (wine had to be French to be good, it seems) and most Americans wanted something in a straw-covered fiasco bottle.  This situation was disheartening to poor old Mr. Dunkley.  But he was a stalwart in a place steeped in tradition, sometimes to its/his detriment.
 


Dunkley, though, brought an outsider's view to Tuscany and, in a certain way, became a bit of an ambassador for the region to the English-speaking world.  He was a major proponent of Sangiovese and his wine often struck me as a bit fierce and certainly not for those wanting something to drink immediately.
 


Dunkley took on a protégé, Sean O'Callaghan, in 1991, a fellow who had studied at Germany's wine school in Geisenheim.  Dunkley died in 1999 and today the property was then owned by a fellow named Baumann.  He sold the estate in 2011 to a Russian woman named Svetlana Frank who is said to continue in Dunkley's footsteps.
But Mr. O'Callaghan is no longer part of Riecine.

We tasted the roster of Riecine wines in 2018 and need to taste them again before passing judgment.
 

Aussie Tom from the Barossa Valley...

I'd say Dunkley  had left the place in good hands as vintages have ranged from very good to off-the-charts back then.
And they don't pander to the American critics who prefer everything taste like Cabernet.
Riecine Chianti tastes like Sangiovese...as it should. 

We had a 2012 Chianti Classico, a deliciously "pure" Sangiovese.  The wine has good structure, but it's a smoother Chianti than Riecine normally makes.  This is perfectly delicious right now if you pair it with substantial foods: a grilled steak dabbed with good olive oil...roasted lamb chops seasoned with rosemary...well, you get the idea.

They have an importer on the East Coast and a few other markets, but California seems to be a mystery to Riecine's management.
Stay tuned...perhaps their wines will reappear.
 
Currently in stock:  2012 Riecine Chianti Classico Sold Out

 

 

 




 
CHIANTI IN STRAW-COVERED FLASKS
 
While we don't find the wines to be as exceptional as those coming in 'normal' bottles, we typically have a few of the Chianti "fiaschi" bottles in stock.  These are straw-covered bottles and cost around ten to twelve bucks each.


Unlike the art-work here depicting the straw-covered bottle featuring "Chianti Classico," I can't think of a producer in the "Classico" region who bottles such a wine in this format.  




 
 
 
 
 
 


 The Chianti we have in straw-covered bottles is "merely" Chianti.  
Please send me a note or give me a call if you need a quantity of these, as I will be delighted to order them for you.  
 
We've got one made by the Banfi folks...it's called Bellagio.  They list for $14 per 750ml bottle and we've got them sale-tagged at $10.99 for orders picked up here at the shop.

We get requests for empty fiaschi bottles and we'll be happy to empty them for you, as long as you don't mind paying for full ones as well as the spaghetti & meatballs we'll prepare to go with the wine.
((I kid you not...I receive several e-mails annually asking for EMPTY fiaschi bottles! I attribute this to global warming and some people being in the sun a wee bit too long.))
Currently in stock:  
Banfi's BELLAGIO Chianti 750ml (List $14)  $10.99
 (plus the shipping box and UPS)

 

 

More Tuscan Wines

BACK TO OUR HOME PAGE

BACK TO THE PREVIOUS PAGE OF TUSCAN WINES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

winepour.gif (12696 bytes)

Wine Tasting Today

TO INQUIRE ABOUT A WINE:  
 
Copyright © 1999    WEIMAX October 19,  2019