Viticcio, Chianti Classico (Tuscany, Italy) 2014

($18): This is a masterful Chianti Classico that walks the line between the so-called “modern” and “traditional” styles.  A hint of Merlot (2%) in the blend with Sangiovese (98%) adds fleshiness without being overt.  The engaging herbal earthy notes still dominate.  A portion of the wine was aged in small oak barrels, but its presence is barely noticeable, demonstrating that oak is not a problem — it’s how the winemaker uses it that can be.  In this sense, Viticcio’s winemaking team excelled.  The use of oak and the dollop of Merlot contribute to a suave texture, but again, it’s not a highly polished wine.  A slight bitterness in the finish reminds you that its role is at the table with hearty pasta, not as an aperitivo.  Again, don’t be put off by the 2014 vintage, considered “difficult” in Tuscany.  Wineries often opt not to make their top wine in a “difficult” or mediocre vintage, which means that some very high quality fruit winds up the their “lesser” bottling.  I suspect that part of the reason Viticcio’s basic Chianti Classico is so exceptional in 2014. It delivers far, far more than the price suggests.
94 Michael Apstein Aug 15, 2017