2015 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva
Tasting this old-school Chianti producer’s Riserva is like a cheap ticket back to those beautiful arid hills of Radda. In fact, there is this lovely restaurant called Le Vigne that sits in the middle of an old vineyard just before you get into town and I remember sitting out on their patio late one afternoon with my espresso inhaling that only-in-Chianti smell of ripening grapes, warm hay, wild fennel and bramble. And that’s exactly the aroma that emanates from this beautifully articulated Sangiovese that hits all the high notes. Castello di Volpaia is its own little self-contained village dating from the 10th century. Wine is only one of its many agricultural activities and it has been certified organic for many years. Its Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Vin Santo and Aceto Vivo ($15 at PRIMA) are all considered among the best in Italy, but it has been its millennium of producing great wine that has earned Volpaia its worldwide reputation. The Riserva, the castello’s flagship, is 100% Sangiovese culled from the estate’s best vineyard sites and oldest vines, is aged twenty four months in a mixture of woods including a small percentage of new small oak French barrels. The new wood is a very small part of the equation, though, adding a bit of texture and the barest hint of vanilla to a nose that, as I said above, is really built to express the warm, fragrant Radda-in-Chianti terroir. The newly-delivered 2015 is a blockbuster! Darker than any previous vintage we’ve seen, it’s still a deep cherry red with the barest hint of Sangiovese brick on the rim, the nose is of Queen Anne cherry with a hint of chocolate covered blueberry, buttery leather, seed-y spices like cardamom or fennel and lots of sun-warmed summer hay and herbs. There is a chunk of minty chocolate in the middle and the aforementioned dash of vanilla at the end that leads to some chewy, briary tannin and very nice finishing acidity. Everything you want in a delicious Tuscan red when the menu calls for a good, grilled bistecca, meat sauced ravioli or an herby roast chicken or pork tenderloin. Delicious to drink now (better if you decant) but old bottles of this have never ceased to amaze either- very highly recommended and a fabulous deal too. We just discovered that the recent gaudy Wine Spectator review (below) has made this wine a very hard ‘get’ in the area but we’ll do our best to keep you supplied!
Wine Spectator, 96 points:
Red Though saturated with black currant and blackberry fruit and backed by opaque tannins, this red is pure and balanced. Thyme, iron, leather and tar notes give this complexity, while the finish goes into overtime. Best from 2023 through 2040. From Italy.