Chianti is “the quintessential wine of Tuscany,” said Jancis Robinson in the Financial Times. Surprisingly, though, bottlings of this distinctive red blend often contain white-wine grapes: Regulations passed in 1967 permitted wine-makers to use as much as 30 percent white grapes. Worse, the red grapes typically used were poor-quality Sangiovese clones chosen primarily for their abundance. The result “was typically a vapid, tart, only-just-red wine.”
No longer. The 2006 vintage marks the first time that white grapes have been outlawed in the making of Chianti Classico. That is “something to celebrate.” Thanks to new Sangiovese plantings, improved viticulture techniques, and a return to traditional casking methods, “the quality of Chianti Classico has soared.” Until recently, only late-bottled Riservas received “the most rapturous attention.” But excellent bottlings of the 2006 vintage should be hitting stores soon.
Three Chiantis that offer especially good value are Carpineto; Collelungo; and Principe Corsini, Le Corte. A bottle of any of these can be had for less than $20.