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Chianti Is Having a ‘Hell of a Season’ and These Bottles Are Proof

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One of the best-known Italian wines, Chianti is palate-pleasing, easy-drinking and pairs well with a variety of dishes—especially anything made with classic Italian ingredients.

Produced from Tuscany’s native Sangiovese grape, which is now widely planted all across the country (and the world), Chianti boasts classic aromas associated with the beloved varietal such as “the tart sweet notes of super fresh cherries, the metallic tang of gunpowder or flint and earthy, herbaceous notes of Mediterranean brush,” says Wine Enthusiast Writer-at-Large Danielle Callegari, who reviews Tuscan wines.

But this familiar option is more than just a pedestrian sip. A bottle of Chianti can elevate a weeknight dinner, or even serve as celebratory drink for a special occasion or party.

“Chianti is like a New York sports franchise in a lot of ways—it’s been around since the dawn of time, sets the terms for other players, has had some ups and downs and, in the end, everyone’s a fan,” says Callegari. “The good news is we’re in the middle of a hell of a season.”

The category is better than ever due to some fresh wins. Chianti Classico recently revamped its designations with new markers of quality and territory, such as Gran Selezione (a step above Riserva) and Unità Geografiche Aggiuntive (or UGA, which translates to Additional Geographical Unit). “The results have been nothing short of stunning,” Callegari adds.

So, which bottles should you add to your buying list?

Callegari generally recommends choosing Chianti Classico over Chianti, for higher quality and better expression of terroir—though we do have some fantastic regular old Chiantis on the list below, including one from a producer she knows and loves.

“I’m a big fan of Salcheto’s wines because they are working hard to test models of sustainability and regeneration, and they bring a very light touch to their expression,” she says.

From those eco-conscious bottles to widely-hailed Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico from Antinori, one of the biggest players in the region, “these bottles are all great examples of the category because they are carefully crafted by producers who are attentive to the unique characteristics of their terrain and their grapes, and are hyper specific representations of terroir, with exciting nuances coming through based on the way Sangiovese behaves in their space,” Callegari says.

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Rocca delle Macìe 2020 Famiglia Zingarelli 50 Anniversario Gran Selezione Sangiovese (Chianti Classico)

The nose begins deeply savory, with aromas of old leather, balsamic and earth, then effortlessly transitions to sweeter, rich notes of dark chocolate, dried figs and cherries. Tangy, bright fresh cherries and plums on the palate, with more chocolate against notes of orange peel and fennel. Strikingly alive and refreshing despite an overall feel of brooding richness, no doubt thanks also to the large format. 95 Points — Danielle Callegari

$250 Rocca delle Macìe

Antinori 2020 Badia a Passignano Sangiovese (Chianti Classico)

The nose balances fruit aromas of strawberry, cherry and raspberry with weightier, savory notes of soil, graphite and dark chocolate. The cohesive, equally balanced palate brings more berries and chocolate, creating a classic, measured, self-assured Chianti. 94 Points — D.C.

$65 Wine.com

San Felice 2020 Il Grigio Gran Selezione Sangiovese (Chianti Classico)

The warm, inviting, almost sensuous nose features abundant tar and gravel, along with succulent aromas of blood orange, blackberry and caramelized fennel. More dark berry notes emerge on the palate, before a bitter finish of citrus and dark chocolate. Sticky, dense tannins bind everything together. 93 Points — D.C.

$ Varies San Felice

Salcheto 2022 Biskero Red (Chianti)

The nose balances the tart sweetness of blackberries and wild cherries with savory, warm aromas of potting soil and burnt sage. That balance continues on the palate before a hot, exciting, peppery finish. A linear, fresh wine made with the most conscientious of practices—a very fine example of this category.92 Points — D.C.

$ Varies Vintage Berkeley

Castello di Albola 2021 Red (Chianti)

The nose starts with the warm earthiness of sage, fennel and bitter orange, then turns sanguine with aromas of graphite, damp soil, black cherry and plum skin. The palate is more fruit-forward, and luxuriously so, but the mouthfeel is generous rather than excessive. Acid flows silently through walls of steep, impenetrable tannins. Best Buy. 92 Points — D.C.

$15 Winemadeeasy

Banfi 2022 Chianti Classico Red (Chianti)

On the nose, a tart cherry blast pushes up against abundant umami aromas of warm tar, balsamic and damp earth. The palate brings more tart fruit, but also a sweetness from a subtle swirl of chocolate and vanilla. Tannins and acid are refined and composed. Best Buy. 90 Points — D.C.

$18 Banfi Wines

La Maialina 2020 Sangiovese (Chianti)

An earthy, sanguine nose of soil, cherries and dark chocolate also has the freshness of mint and fennel. Cherries and chocolate headline the palate, until a bitter finish of espresso, sambuca and orange peel. A latent spiciness contrasts with an overall silky texture. Best Buy. 90 Points —  D.C.

$12 Winedeals

Borgo Scopeto 2019 Vigna Misciano Riserva Sangiovese (Chianti Classico)

The nose is savory and umami throughout, with aromas of damp earth and leaves, crushed berries and graphite. That salty earthiness also defines the palate, although a more assertive fruit streak and heat add nuance. Tannins and acid are fierce and intense. 91 Points — Danielle Callegari

$ Varies Wine.com

Castelvecchi 2017 Madonnino della Pieve Gran Selezione Sangiovese (Chianti Classico)

The nose is bright and sweet with aromas of cherry and strawberry, rooted in undertones of warm earth, roots, crushed rocks and herbs. That interplay between juicy fruit and gently bitter medicinality continues on the palate, before a peppery, chocolatey finish. Refined tannins provide structure. 92 Points — D.C.

$65 Casa Paladin

Le Cinciole 2019 Aluigi Gran Selezione Sangiovese (Chianti Classico)

On the nose, intensely savory aromas of old leather, balsamic and damp earth are enlivened by a drizzle of cherry syrup. That fruit element explodes on the palate with a cornucopia of berries, but the earthiness lingers as an undertone before a synthesizing mocha finish. The acid floods a valley of fine grained tannins. 93 Points — D.C.

$48 Bassins

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