The difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico has been misunderstood for decades, but the distinction between these two DOCGs is crucial. Chianti Classico has stricter production regulations and a smaller protected growing zone limited to the Tuscan countryside around Siena and Florence. Now vintners are focusing on even smaller sub-regions for their characteristic terroirs. Requirements are so exacting that Chianti Classico is further refined into three tiers defined by grape selection and aging: Annata, Riserva, and Gran Selezione. This top category, newly designated in 2014, calls for the estate’s best or single vineyard grapes, 30 months of aging, ruby red color, a spicy aroma, and a lingering, harmonious taste. Intrigued? Here are 7 highly rated Chianti Classicos that should be on your radar.
Barone Ricasoli 2015 Brolio Riserva (Chianti Classico); 90 points. This robust red is 80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. It opens with aromas of black currant, cedar and a hint of violet while the firmly structured palate offers dried black cherry, vanilla, licorice and a touch of mocha. Assertive but polished tannins provide support. —Kerin O’Keefe
Barone Ricasoli 2015 Brolio Bettino (Chianti Classico); 90 points. Aromas of black-skinned berry, mint and cooking spice abound on this 90% Sangiovese and 10% Colorino blend. The medium-bodied, juicy palate offers ripe black cherry, crushed raspberry, licorice and clove alongside polished tannins. Enjoy through 2022. —Kerin O’Keefe
Barone Ricasoli 2015 Rocca Guicciarda Riserva (Chianti Classico); 90 points. Red-skinned berry, dark spice and balsamic aromas are front and center on this structured red. The firm, savory palate offers dried black cherry, licorice and grilled herb alongside fine-grained tannins. Drink through 2024. —Kerin O’Keefe
Barone Ricasoli 2015 Brolio (Chianti Classico); 89 points. Made with 80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, this has aromas of violet, red-skinned berry and underbrush. The bright palate offers ripe raspberry, red cherry and a sprinkling of white pepper alongside fine-grained tannins. —Kerin O’Keefe
Barone Ricasoli 2015 Colledilà Gran Selezione (Chianti Classico); Delicate in ruby red color with a complex nose and an elegantly subtle yet persistent finish this balanced wine expresses all the characteristics of Sangiovese. It is full with aromas of violet and iris coupled with ripe red fruits followed by hints of pepper and a whisper of white chocolate which give way to a full, velvety mouthfeel with soft tannins. 2011 vintage awarded 89 points.
Barone Ricasoli 2015 Casalferro Merlot (Toscana); Intense ruby red in color with black walnut, vanilla, and spice on the nose. Elegant and velvety tannins ensure a long, persistent, and enveloping finish. 2011 vintage awarded 92 points.
Barone Ricasoli 2013 Castello di Brolio Gran Selezione (Chianti Classico); Deep ruby red color. The nose, unmistakable and elegant, expresses the complexity of floral aromas and ripe red fruit, liquorice, vanilla, and chocolate. The palate is full and rich with soft, velvety tannins. The finish is generously persistent. This blend offers the most authentic expression of the terroir of Brolio.