Archive for ‘Sangiovese’

August 13, 2020

Il Margone Chianti Classico, Gran Selezione, 2013

Can you guess how many points the Wine Spectator scored this vintage? 

As part of a minor celebration we splurged on some rather pricey Chianti (not much to get too excited about in 2020…).  Even with seven years under its belt, we felt it had some place to go, still.

Gobs of acidity and light tannins with deeply nuanced fruit.  If you’ve ever had an orchard pie (it’s a dessert of plums, apricots, peaches and cherries, and really only should be made during those magical two weeks in the summer when each of those is ripe at the same time), this wine could be that pie in a bottle, a really bold and assertive pie. 

I will add this though: Just for sheer enjoyment, just for having wine with friends and enjoying food, the Vajra Barbera, which we rarely go a month without downing at least one bottle, trumps this heavyweight.  I mean not over at the Wine Advocate, obviously, but maybe in your living room.

Price: $60 at BC Liquor but, for what it’s worth, over $40 USD south of the border.

Market Liquidity:  Very timpani in a requiem.

March 27, 2020

Altesino Rosso di Montalcino, 2016

Altesino Rosso di Montalcino, 2016

Reviewers love this wine.  We were mildly satisfied.  Out of the bottle it has no new world charm; it needs a minimum of 20 minutes decanted to bloom—and then it rewards.  Decanted or even aerated, whatever you’ve got.  More subtle than the Vajra we’ve been addicted to of late, the smoky, earthy, coolness of it with just tinges of berry and plum, come on lovely.  Not a long finish.  It might have legs, and we have a few laid down to find out, but for food friendliness and to please company, you’d actually be better off with something like the Celestiale.  It was a slog to source, then of course we wanted to try it out to see if it fit our palate, then  a double slog to find it again to lie some down.  Work equals force times distance and there was too much of it all; thanks BCL.  I think Gismondi referenced it as a lesser Brunello which, I think, is disingenuous.


Price: $29 at BC Liquor (when and if you can find it).


Market Liquidity: Well worth it, but not worth the effort to source.

August 24, 2018

Il Grigio da San Felice, Chianti Classico, Riserva 2009

From the cellar: The Wine Advocate came out with a 93+ points rating for the 2009 Il Grigio (in 2013).  We bought six bottles.  I have rarely been more in accord with (what I call) The Robert Parkers.  The only regret is that six was far too few.


We drank our next to last bottle this week and nearly wept.  It was like velvet, slathered with cream, topped with faux fur resting on a water bed; it was like Ellington and Coltrane In a Sentimental Mood; it was like Frank singing Nice ‘N’ Easy crossed by Ella singing It Never Entered My Mind; it was like a zero gravity chair on a Quaalude.  It really was.


Last time we got around to reviewing this Chianti, proper content review, the layers of floral flavour, the muted tannins braced against a woodsy tang, the gorgeous lip smacking fruit bomb of it all, we were in similar awe.  This just keeps getting Wow and more Wow.  But the strange thing is of all the Il Grigio we’d drunk since the 09, nothing has measured up.  It’s like a good standby, an old reliable, but the 09, as I say it’s pure Wow: This is what it’s all about when it comes to lying down wine.  Buried treasure.  Sangiovese rocks.


Price: $18.60 USD in 2013; around $30 CDN for the current vintage.  Stellar value.


Market Liquidity: Manna from heaven.

May 9, 2017

Rocca di Montegrossi, Chianti Classico, 2014

First, not the finest Chianti in BC and not the finest under $50 even at the government stores.  It is like luxe plum juice, has a cordial bent that is pleasant enough, smooth like silk, but not with all the dimension and ka-ching of a few others we’ve tasted over the years–plus it doesn’t quite have the heft of its compatriots.  However, however, however: This is sensationally affordable for the quality in the bottle.  And it drinks just as good as BC red wines twice and even three times the price.  Plus it has some legs.  This is a “stocker upper” if you can get it.  I can’t imagine finding a BC red as drinkable at this price point.


Price: $28 at BC Liquor.


Market Liquidity: Organic to boot.

January 18, 2016

Vigneti La Selvanella Chianti Classico Riserva, 2010

Value week on Buyingbcwines: It starts out crudely, with notes that are very much of the barnyard, wet hay, musky leather. On the palate it transitions to figs, anise, ripe cherry, and softens, Merlot soft, finishing with a peppery bite. A very good sipper for Chianti but with the musculature for a prime rib.  Not a drop was left.


If you can still find the 2010 it’s worth the effort.

Vigneti La Selvanella Chianti Classico Riserva, 2010

Price: $25 at BC Liquor. Also some private stores near the same price point.


Market Liquidity: Value, and then some.

November 28, 2015

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico, 2011

Lively. I believe that’s what the professionals say about a wine of this sort (i.e., the ones they score in the mid-80s). All the component parts of a good Chianti delivered just slightly below the bar. Fruit? Check. Scads. Light tannins? Check. Smooth finish? Perfectly palatable if unremarkable. You can score this in the US for as low as $7 a bottle. It’s in the low-20s in BC. A tad too much acid we thought but a crowd pleaser.  By the case at $7USD. Have a browse in BC.

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico 2011

Price: $22 at BC Liquor


Market Liquidity: If the other option is a bottled swathed in wicker, choose the Gabbiano.

wicker chianti

August 11, 2015

Melini La Selvanella Riserva, Chianti Classico, 2010

Melini La Selvanella Riserva, Chianti Classico, 2010Ho-hum.  The Grigio we drank a while back, sensational.  Still holding back on the last few bottles.  This could not compare.


Gismondi loved it and scored it 90 points so of course I bought the last two bottles at my local outlet.  He noted its “silky textures” and “long smooth elegant finish.”  For us it was more the bristle of four days growth on a burly longshoreman and a less than memorable and rather flat finish.  I won’t battle his prose but this was the most disappointing red of the summer.


Price: $24.50 plus taxes at BC Liquor


Market Liquidity: Second bottle goes out as a host gift.

September 3, 2014

Il Grigio da San Felice, Chianti Classico Reserva, 2009

From the cellar: Jesus Christ and the twelve apostles. This could be the holy sacrament. I bought a few bottles to lay down nine months ago and couldn’t wait to try one. Ooh la la.


True, it’s Sangiovese, and that’s the grape you get into verbal tousles over. I like it, but find it (in general) too acid and with chalky tannins. Anyone who has spent a half day in Sienna will beg to differ; some people feel once they’ve set foot in Tuscany they have some omerta-like duty to shill for all things Italian. A dirty little secret of Chianti is that there is more mediocre Chianti than good Chianti. But this reserve red has the hallmarks of the grape, with muted tannins and just enough acid for a gentle kick. The fruit dominates, awe-inspiring. Luscious and lovely. I simply can’t wait to drink the rest.


Price: $18.70 USD bottle, December 2013.  BC Liquor $31.


Market Liquidity: Mary Magdalene and the Saints. This is like a cashmere find at the thrift shop.

November 23, 2011

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Prime Donne 2001 Brunello di Montalcino

From the cellar: Striploins at half price at Whole Foods.  Time to bring out the big guns.  This weekend we had a red meat extravaganza and paired dinners with, first, a Brunello that had been gathering dust in the “cellar” along with two cabernets, which I’ll post later this week.

So very hard to review this.  90% of what we drink is young and over-the-counter.  Thus a big, beautiful Brunello, rajah of Italian reds, well that’s pretty sweet.  And it was.

Had a rich, deep, dark, smooth texture.  Nescafe!  Just kidding.  But there was a note of coffee.  Some spice—the label said anise, but we got something a little more like pepper, clove and cinnamon.  It was very nice.  No complaints.  Just didn’t wow.  Maybe even a little past.  Good, yes, like a bestseller.  Think Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities; what a great beach read, page turner, couldn’t put it down, but once it was over I moved on.  Easy.  And the book went back to the library.  Sure it far exceeded the everyday plonk we can afford on a daily basis given our entrenched governmental system which extracts every last after-tax penny.  But classic?  Nah.

Tanzer, apparently, gave it 91 points.  How do I know?  It’s on the friggin’ label!  There is something both immodest and insecure about a vintner that feels the need to parade their points, but there you go.

Price: I lost my notes, but I think around $25-30 in 2004 or 05 at BC Liquor if indeed a Brunello in BC could ever cost so little.

Market Liquidity: You always have such high expectations for something kicking around in the cellar and this was a treat but not brilliant.