Decanter’s long-standing consultant editor and 2017 Decanter Man of the Year hand-picks fine wines for drinking now and recommends others to lay down, all priced from £25 upwards
From the cellar
Rocca di Montegrossi, Vin Santo
A vertical tasting of Marco Ricasoli-Firidolfi’s Vin Santo del Chianti Classico from his first 1995 vintage to the recent 2007 has left a long-lasting impression. He inherited the vin santo tradition from his mother and has perfected it by creating a well-ventilated drying room where bunches of grapes are hung on rails, allowing botrytis to develop – essential to give the wine complex aromas as well as the glycerine that brings softness and roundness to the palate. After Christmas, when the grapes have lost up to 70% of their original volume, they are slowly pressed and the juice run off to ferment in small barrels which are sealed for seven or eight years.
The inaugural 1995 was good, but the 1997 benefited from nets to protect the grapes and was less rich but more precise (95/100pts); 1998 was a perfect balance of elegant richness (96), while the 2000 had more energy but less concentration (94). The 2001 was the star of the tasting: fresher, beautifully expressed bitter orange nose and Yquem richness on the palate (97) – while the 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006 were all classic but slightly different. The current 2007 (96) vintage showed more depth, concentration and energy, yet with great liveliness on the finish (£37.50/37.5cl Stannary St Wine Co).
For the cellar
Podere La Villa
Towards the end of his illustrious career, devoted principally to the wines of Tuscany, Giacomo Tachis (1944-2016) – the Decanter Man of the Year 2011 and creator of Tignanello, Solaia and many other iconic wines – purchased a small Chianti Classico vineyard at San Casciano in Val di Pesa, southwest of Florence.
His daughter Ilaria, aided by her husband Raffaele d’Amico in the vineyard and Alessandro Cellai, her father’s closest student, in the cellar, now manages 6ha planted with 80% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot. It is from the northwest-facing Merlot vineyard that she reserves the best grapes to produce the cuvée Giacomo in memory of her father.
The Pargolo, Chianti Classico 2013, reflecting the 80/20 vineyard plantings, shows elegant flavours, lovely texture and a lifted firm finish. Yet the Giacomo 2015 (94) moves into another league: rich, vibrant and vigorous black fruits on the nose, marvellous depth on the palate with no heaviness, a touch of green spice to add freshness, and natural tannins to keep it improving in the bottle past 2025.
Says Ilaria: ‘The complex structure, the suppleness and the elegant tannic note is precisely what my father would have loved.’ (£35, email@example.com)