Underneath the surface of this Chianti Classico estate is a progressive winery on a mission to make pure and delicious wines of surprise. The Sangiovese-focused wines are brilliant examples of where this historic wine-growing region is headed: savory, elegant and ready for cuisine matchmaking. The Chianti Classico impressed me with its balance of ease and seriousness: just want something delicious? Sip away. Looking for more detail? I have that, too. Meanwhile, the Chianti Classico Riserva, as I would expect, is significantly more structured — the kind of wine to show the region’s heavyweights that this estate is on equal footing. Give it 10 years to really see it shine, if you can wait that long.
“Comitale” is a Bianco Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT made from 90% Grechetto and 10% Vernaccia — a rich white wine reminiscent of pineapple cream and white flowers. On my first encounter, we opened it for dinner, then drank all of it while we cooked. (Whoops). The rosato, made from 100% Canaiolo, is my favorite in all of Italy — a remarkably fresh wine with precise aromas and flavors (sour plum, cherry blossoms, blood orange citrus) and a plush texture that you just want to snuggle with. (You read that right: a rosé to snuggle with).
Villa Calcinaia also makes three single-vineyard Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, a Merlot and a Vin Santo.
…And Why They Stand Out
Diversity is not often a word associated with the wines of Tuscany, where Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon make up 75% of the plantings. The domination of reds is even more acute in Chianti Classico, where for decades, winemakers pursued power over elegance, and international appeal over localized identity.
Mercifully things have begun to turn, and in this regard, Villa Calcinaia is one of Chianti Classico’s beacons. You would be well taken care of with a case of their annata bottling for casual weeknight meals, and a case of the riserva for longevity. The common thread among their red wines is grace and effective management of tannins. I encountered zero palate fatigue when tasting their wines.
But one cannot live on stern, decanter-worthy red wines alone. Sometimes we eat fish. Sometimes its hot. Therefore, it is the playful bianco and sexy rosato that give Villa Calcinaia the edge. Both wines have the personality of a welcome dinner guest: amusing, interesting and adaptable. Tuscany (and Chianti Classico in particular) could use a few more wineries offering a spectrum of wines such as Villa Calcinaia does.
Originally listed: August 2019.
Visiting Villa Calcinaia
*Icons at the top appear in a hover state on certain browsers. Visit the main Essential Winemakers page for a key to the complete set of icons.