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New Chianti Classico releases: top scorers and best-value picks

Michaela Morris reviews the latest Chianti Classico wines to be bottled and released this year with more than 170 tasted from the 2019 vintage as well as the Riserva and Gran Selezione 2018 categories.

Chianti Classico’s ‘Collection’ tasting is an annual opportunity for professionals to get to grips with the newest vintages on the market, providing an opportunity to assess hundreds of wines from the famous denomination.

This year’s tasting ‘Collection’ event is currently touring the globe, taking Chianti Classico wines to the cities of London, Munich, New York, Tokyo, Chicago, and – of course – Florence, allowing the usual crowd of sommeliers, buyers and critics an opportunity to taste these new wines despite restrictions on international travel.


Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for the top-scoring, newly-released Chianti Classico wines


Chianti Classico latest releases in 2021 include Chianti Classico annata 2019, Chianti Classico Riserva 2018, and Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2018. Yet many producers choose to mature their wines for longer than the minimum requirements before release, and so we also find wines from 2017 and even 2016 in bottle for the first time.

This report was planned before any of the big Tuscan tastings were announced. In a normal year I would spend a couple of weeks touring the region, visiting producers and attending tastings of Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, before compiling the reports for Decanter readers.

Confusion reigned supreme earlier this year, however, and there had been no confirmation that any of the usual tastings would take place or that international travel would be allowed.

So, with the help from Canadian importers and the producers themselves, I was able to amass a large selection of wines at my base in Vancouver from which I was able to produce this set of reports.

The result is a fantastic dive into each of Tuscany’s major denominations.



About Chianti Classico

Chianti Classico has a three-tier classification: annata, Riserva and Gran Selezione.

Quality has improved dramatically in the 25 years since producers were first allowed to make pure Sangiovese wines (since 1996). Marking another step up in quality, white grapes were banned in 2005.

In 2014, the Gran Selezione category was introduced to much fanfare, although a proportion of producers remain sceptical and prefer to bottle their top wines as Riserva – or even IGT – instead.


Standout Chianti Classico producers:

Rocca di Montegrossi: Consistently excellent quality at both the annata and Gran Selezione levels.

Istine: Angela Fronti’s annata is one of Chianti Classico’s best value wines, and her vineyard selections are among the region’s top examples.

Monte Bernardi: Michael Schmelzer crafts non-conformist wines that still speak clearly to the region.

L’Erta di Radda: An up-and-coming boutique producer making fresh, understated yet nuanced wines in Radda.

Castello di Monsanto: This renowned estate shows a steady progression across Chianti Classico’s three categories in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 vintages.


Chianti Classico value picks:

Castello di Gabbiano, Cavaliere d’Oro, Chianti Classico 2018: Winemaker Federico Cerelli oversees a friendly, well-priced annata as well as a highly affordable and satisfying Gran Selezione.

Ricasoli, Brolio, Chianti Classico 2019: Impressive quality for a production of almost 500,000 bottles.

Castello di Ama, Ama, Chianti Classico 2019: The 2019 Ama seriously over-delivers for its price point and its classification.

Istine, Chianti Classico 2018: Mostly Radda fruit with a little bit from Gaiole, this is one of the region’s best-value Chianti Classicos.


Chianti Classico releases 2021: top scorers


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Brunello di Montalcino 2016: vintage report and top wines

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2015: vintage report and top wines

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2018 and Riserva 2017: vintage report and top wines

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