Hello friends. We had already been considering today’s wine for an offering, because I thought it was a super-solid example of Chianti Riserva at its $16 release price.
Then two things happened that don’t frequently coincide: 1) the wine got a great review in the June 30 Wine Spectator, a review that makes it a strong contender for the year-end Top 100; and 2) the wine got a price drop for the month of July.
Please note that once we hit August, the tariff is set to return to its regular $15-$16 level, so while we may be able to fulfill reorders, they would likely be at the higher tag. For today, though, we have plenty of wine to play with at a very accessible price point:
Wine Spectator (Bruce Sanderson): “($16); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”
Wine Spectator generally considers four factors for their Top 100 list: quality (score); value (release price); availability (cases made or imported); and the “X-factor.” That last one is qualitative, and therefore unmeasurable, but we can gather a lot from the first three factors. Looking at last year’s list, it doesn’t take long to find a comparable: 2010 Ch. De La Greffiere Macon-La Roche VV was #43 on the 2012 Top 100 list, and its stats were 91pts | $18 | 2000 cases imported.
Compare that to our offering today – 91pts | $16 | 7000 cases imported – and you’ll see that it is both less expensive and more available, which bodes well for its chances when we reach year’s end.
Looking through the archives, I was surprised to see that we’ve only offered one Chianti, and it was a kinda-expensive library bottle of 1995 Felsina. That’s crazy. Chianti is a terrific category for value hunting. You generally have to kiss a lot of frogs to find the princes, but that’s the whole Full Pull model: we kiss the frogs so you don’t have to. Still burdened by the halcyon days of swill-in-straw-baskets, Chianti is on the rebound in the US, but is still walking the line between fashionable and unfashionable. (Did you know, by the way, that the name for those straw baskets is “fiasco,” which means flask in Italian but which doubles as an accurate description of Chianti marketing in recent decades?)
Fashion or no, we all know that Chianti is one of the world’s beating hearts of Sangiovese. Today we’re in the Rufina subzone (see map here), one of the cooler, higher-altitude sections of Chianti, known for its clay and limestone-marl soils. This is a Riserva, which means it spent at least two years in oak before going into bottle. I loved the mix of smoky cherries and damp earth on the nose. The palate presents a deep, rich mix of black cherry, earth, and tar, with just enough Campari citrus-pith bitters to make sure you know you’re in Italy. There’s a beautiful earthiness to this, a real sense of rusticity, that I found deeply appealing. The depth of flavors, the chewiness of the black-tea tannins, the evolving complexity of flavors: all outstanding, especially at such a competitive tariff.
This could work as a summer BBQ wine (especially if you’re grilling steaks), and then will roll into autumn and winter and just keep getting better. For those of us who love Sangiovese, this is a real treat. Please limit order requests to 24 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive at the warehouse in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.