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To get an idea of global warming, we here in the editorial office don't have to pore over climate data and statistics. Often, a glance at our tasting sheets is enough. At the beginning of this millennium, when we had a three-page sample list of Chianti Classico in front of us, sorted in ascending order of alcohol content, it started with 12 or 12.5% alcohol, reached 13% at the end of the first page and at the very end some wines were waiting for us with 14%. Today, the first three or four wines still have less than 13.5%, the fourteen percenters already start on the first page and at the very end there are reliably a few examples with 15 or even more percent alcohol by volume.

The time of the slender, tangy-fresh, crisp Chianti Classico is long gone, apart from the rare exceptions of individual producers who apparently still pursue this style quite deliberately. This also has some advantages: for one hardly encounters meagre, brittle, thin or unripe wines any more. The average qualities, one can say with certainty, have probably never been as high as they are today. Those who, in view of the figures alone, expect quantities of broad, rich, heavy wines have in any case missed out on Sangiovese. Even at a high level of maturity, Sangiovese often has a certain acidity and freshness, and its juiciness and taut tannins do the rest to counteract the alcohol. Thus, at least the best Chianti Classico, whether Annata, Riserva or Gran Selezione, still offer life, polish, freshness and real elegance even in the highest weight classes (a term that is unfortunately misused far too often today to give even the clumsiest alcohol monsters the appearance of drinkability).

The aroma of Chianti Classico has also changed noticeably over the past two decades. The wines usually taste considerably more Mediterranean than before. Notes of tar, juniper, pepper, Mediterranean herbs, liquorice or even black olives are almost omnipresent. But despite many similarities, the Chianti Classico have a remarkable variety of expressions. From red to deep black berry, cool, firm and pithy to expansive, full-bodied and warm, sometimes with tart, often also cedary or tobacco spice, sometimes chocolaty and "sweet", some wines are positively bursting with salt, others lack any trace of minerality. And of course everything in between.

So we didn't get bored during the tasting of well over 300 wines, mostly from the years 2019 to 2015. The vintages presented themselves quite differently. 2016 still seems to be the most complete vintage we can remember, even superior to the first-class 2015 due to the greater freshness of many wines. The very dry year is sometimes noticeable in the 2017s, they often seem a little more brittle and edgy than usual. In 2018, it is often the other way round. Especially the simpler wines sometimes have something slightly washed out about them, even though they are almost always very nice to drink. The top, however, is without fault, not infrequently excellent. The first Annata from 2019, on the other hand, have given us so much pleasure that we can hardly wait to taste more of the vintage.

All Chianti Classico were tasted blind by us at least twice in our tasting room in Erlangen; quite a few samples we also observed over several days. For reasons of space alone, we can only present the best wines of the respective classification levels here. Links to all results with detailed descriptions as well as the producers can be found by clicking on the respective headings. Links to all wines tasted so far of the respective vintage are at the end of the lists. Several videos on the current Chianti tastings can be found here on our Youtube channel.

BEST OF Chianti Classico Chianti Classico Annata 2019

BEST OF Chianti Classico Chianti Classico Annata 2018

BEST OF Chianti Classico Chianti Classico Annata 2017

BEST OF Chianti Classico Chianti Classico Riserva 2018