10 Top-Scoring Chianti Classicos for $35 and Less

Italian hillside vineyard in Chianti Classico
A vineyard near Greve in Chianti, Italy/Getty

From the rolling hills of central Tuscany comes arguably one of Italy’s most famous wines, Chianti Classico. The Chianti Classico Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) is surrounded by the larger Chianti DOCG and while both produce Sangiovese-based wine, there are some very important differences between the two appellations.

Chianti Classico bottlings, which always carry an emblem of a black rooster, must be made from at least 80% Sangiovese grapes (10% more than Chianti) and the producers cannot use any white grapes. Chianti Classico also uses different aging tiers for its wines. Annata, or standard, wines must be aged for at least one year; Riserva wines for at least two years; and Gran Selezione for at least 30 months.

These pedigreed reds don’t have to be pricey affairs. Here are our latest Chianti Classico reviews that prove you can find excellent quality at attainable prices.

A Beginner's Guide to Chianti and Chianti Classico

Castello di Ama 2017 Chianti Classico, $35, 95 points. Rose, mature red berry and wild herb aromas mingle with a balsamic whiff of eucalyptus. The delicious, polished palate boasts a restrained elegance, delivering juicy Marasca cherry, crushed raspberry, star anise and white pepper alongside refined tannins. Fresh acidity keeps it balanced and lends just enough tension. Drink through 2023. The Sorting Table. Editors’ Choice. —Kerin O’Keefe

Volpaia 2016 Riserva (Chianti Classico); $35, 95 points. Varietal aromas of violet, plum and black-skinned berry shape the nose on this fragrant, polished red. On the fresh, delicious palate, velvety tannins accompany juicy wild cherry, crushed raspberry and baking spice. It’s nicely balanced, with bright acidity. Wilson Daniels Ltd. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

Felsina 2017 Berardenga (Chianti Classico); $28, 93 points. Aromas of plum, exotic spice, eucalyptus and a hint of violet form the nose. The medium-bodied palate is elegantly structured and has nice tension, offering mature black cherry, blackberry compote and licorice accompanied by polished tannins. Drink through 2023. Polaner Selections. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

Istine 2017 Chianti Classico; $25, 93 points. Fruity aromas of ripe black-skinned berry mingle with violet and brown baking spice on this 100% Sangiovese. On the chewy, savory palate, notes of licorice and clove accent a dense core of Marasca cherry and raspberry compote while polished tannins provide support. Drink through 2022. Oliver McCrum Wines. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

Marchesi Antinori 2015 Villa Antinori Riserva (Chianti Classico); $35, 93 points. Aromas of wild berry, pipe tobacco, mint and eucalyptus shape the nose along with whiffs of French oak. On the linear, elegantly structured palate, tightly knit, fine-grained tannins wrap around ripe black cherry, red currant, star anise and toast. Drink 2022–2030. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. —K.O.

Riecine 2017 Chianti Classico; $25, 92 points. Aromas of blue flower and black-skinned fruit form the nose along with a whiff of tobacco. Smooth and juicy, the rounded palate doles out succulent Marasca cherry, blackberry and star anise while polished tannins provide lithe support. Drink through 2023. Soilair Selection. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

Castello di Albola 2016 Chianti Classico; $19, 91 points. Rose and red berry aromas shape the nose on this fragrant red. Linear and vibrant, the lithe, savory palate offers sour cherry, red currant and hints of baking spice set against bright acidity and polished tannins. Drink through 2024. 1821 Fine Wines & Spirits. —K.O.

Badia a Coltibuono 2017 Coltibuono RS (Chianti Classico); $15, 90 points. Aromas of ripe black-skinned berry, scorched earth and licorice carry over to the easygoing palate along with mature plum. Tight, dusty tannins provide light support and leave a drying finish. Drink through 2022. Dalla Terra Winery Direct. Best Buy. —K.O.

Castelli del Grevepesa 2016 Chianti Classico; $25, 90 points. Aromas of black plum, leather and underbrush lead the way on this 95% Sangiovese and 5% Merlot blend. The savory palate offers dried black cherry, tobacco and clove alongside dusty tannins. Votto Vines Importing. —K.O.

Ormanni 2016 Chianti Classico; $19, 90 points. Made with organically grown Sangiovese grapes, this opens with aromas of red berry, violet and underbrush. The savory, fragrant palate offers red cherry, star anise and tobacco alongside polished tannins. Enjoy through 2025. Virtuoso Selections. —K.O.

Published on March 11, 2020
Topics: Wine and Ratings