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A very elegant Chianti Classico that begs to be paired with a char-grilled steak

by Claudio Celio

A 2013 Chianti Classico that combines Sangiovese’s goût de terroir with uncommon elegance and quaffability – that’s Il Poggerino Chianti Classico, 2013 vintage, from a winery in Radda (Siena), an area chiefly known for its subtler, more elegant Classicos.

After two hot years (2011 and 2012) that had stepped up concentration and alcohol content, 2013 showed the hallmarks of a cool vintage right from the spring: “Late bud break in the vineyards and the homogeneous ripening of the grapes made all the difference,” says Piero Lanza, agronomist, enologist and co-owner, with sister Benedetta, of Fattoria Poggerino’s eleven hectares under vine – heart of the Radda winery.

The cool climate that characterized the vintage softened the variety’s earthy, chewy component, enhancing its floral character and finesse: Il Poggerino 2013 Chianti Classico favors fragrance over concentration. The bouquet shows a slightly wooden note at first, reminiscent of carob fruit, soon modulating towards notes of fresh red flowers interlaced with subtle herbal nuances, notably lavender. Sensationally juicy on the palate, it retains the slightly gamey, brushwood traits of Sangiovese yet varietal exuberance is tamed and fine-tuned by balance. Red, ideally ripe fruit is the dominant leitmotiv: layered raspberry and marasca cherry and juicier, fleshier cherries and plums. All of this, wrapped up in a smooth and silky texture showing perfect balance and an underlying, savory tannin that is appealing, never harsh or austere.

Piero Lanza has crafted this 2013 Chianti Classico with great care: care in the vineyard, with meticulous selection of the best fruit, and care in the winery, with soft pressing of the grapes in order to avoid bruising the skins. Based on experience, Piero then chose lengthy maceration on the skins: as long as 35 days for the 2013, unusually lengthy for a Chianti, as maceration times in the appellation are generally shorter. In Piero Lanza’s view, though, protracted maceration allows the finest extraction, increasing the wine’s complexity. This philosophy was particularly successful in 2013, a vintage that subsequently matured in large barrels for 12 months previous to a further 12 months’ bottle ageing.

The result is a fine example of Classico’s more elegant style, versatile and food-friendly, particularly suited for traditional pairings with meat and a match made in heaven with char-grilled meat. Il Poggerino has also produced a Riserva version for this vintage: tannin and succulence on a grander scale you need to wait for a few years. Those who are patient enough will be rewarded with an outstanding Chianti Classico Riserva.