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Castellinuzza e Piuca is a small family owned winery in the hilltop town of Lamole, halfway between Siena and Florence, home to some of the highest elevation vineyards in the Chianti Classico zone. Their Rosso Toscana is a bit of a throwback, a co-fermentation and maceration of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Malvasia Bianca like Chianti would have been made in the old days. Fermented with indigenous yeast and macerated on the skins for 8-10 days, they wine then aged for 12-14 months in concrete tank before it is bottled with only minimal filtration. A beautiful ruby red in the glass, this wine has great freshness and tension, backed by good acidity and medium, but rustic tannins. Notes of fresh cherry, dried cherry, red forest fruit, dried flowers, and an herbal undercurrent. Juicy and fun, but with enough complexity to keep it engaging all the way through, this would pair wonderfully with any sort of roasted poultry and fall flavors. Oskar Kostecki
Fornacina only produces their riserva bottling in their very best vintages. From 100% Sangiovese Grosso selected from vineyards in Castelnuovo dell'Abate, a charming village hanging over the Abbey de Sant'Antimo a couple kilometers south of Montalcino. This riserva wine is vinified in stainless steel for thirty days before spending 48 months in the huge Slavonian oak casks traditional to the region. After this, the wine spends another twelve months in bottle before being released to the market. This allows an extraordinary delicacy of tannic texture that belies this wine's immense power. This is on the spicier side for Brunello, with notes of morello cherry and plum enrobed in silken hints of baking spices like cinnamon, vanilla, and licorice. Full bodier, rich, and elegant, this wine is fantastic with braised meats, filet mignon, wine-based stews, and osso buco. Andrew Farquhar
From very old vines, this is very much in the same mold as the Chianti – and was vinified identically – but is considerably deeper and rounder without any additional wood, alcohol, or extract – just a direct expression of the old vines. I think this is remarkable – it strikes a fascinating balance between palate-enveloping darker fruit and finesse. JW
Aside from Gregory Dal Piaz’s fervent recommendation, I fell for Lecci e Brocchi for obvious reasons: the wine tastes like Chianti – very good Chianti, in fact. It’s aromatically quite intense, with bright red fruit bound to stone and savory rocky herbs. On the light side of medium-bodied, the palate follows the aromas – if anything the stony-iron character is more present. This is a very harmonious, long, and quite elegant Chianti. Jamie Wolff
The delicious "Il Meticcio" is a blend of Canaiolo, Malvasia and Ciliegiolo - a blend dedicated to their mixed breed dog "Tiberio." The wine shows a deep pink color in the glass, with hints of salmon. The 2018 is a hearty and structured rose, with notes of dry tart cherry, ripe strawberry, red currants, and an interesting herbal character. Quite firm on the palate, with a bit of structured tannins yet quite bright acidity, and an undercurrent of earth and mineral notes. The finish is long and lingering. Quite delicious now, but I wouldn't hesitate holding this for a year or two to see where it goes. Oskar Kostecki
The Chianti Classico Riserva is a more serious reflection of the same principles underlying Retromarcia. It is produced from a plot of 40-year-old Sangiovese vines that contain around 5% Canaiolo Nero and naturally yield about half as much fruit as the young vines used for Retromarcia. The wine is fermented for 3-4 weeks on skins in steel and then aged for 2 years in old wooden botti and unlined cement tanks.
While I always love the wines from Monte Bernardi, every year Sa’etta is one of the most compelling. The organic viticulture, reflective sandstone soils, extra élevage result in wines of great purity, lift, tension, and dare I say, flair. There’s the beautiful characteristic Morello cherry fruit (though perhaps given a boost of florality and finesse here). This is underlain by a deep sense of nearly salty minerality (not just acidity, though this is also expressed, despite the warmth of the vintage). And finally there’s this savory, energetic kick to the finish, which pulls off the neat trick of not just length, but expansiveness; there’s real dimension and style here to match the stoniness at the core of the wine. A real treat now, but this should be splendid with 8-12 years and beyond in the bottle. John McIlwain