"The 2018s are gracious wines of immense pleasure. The wines are gorgeous for their mid-weight purity and nuance. Stylistically, the 2018s remind me of the 2004s, but with a bit less richness... The late-ripening season produced wines with striking aromatics, medium-bodied structures and super-refined, silky tannins that make them a pure joy to taste even in the early going." Antonio Galloni on Chianti Classico 2018, Vinous Media
The warm 2018 vintage in Chianti will go down as one of the best in the last 20 years. Not quite as show stopping as the 2016 vintage, but with a bit more elegance and finesse. The wines are showing better than the 2015’s and have early comparisons to 2004, one of our favourites. We’ve scoured new territory, looking past some of the household names, to small producers who are making waves and shone in this strong year. We’ve found one, with sister/ brother duo and the small, organic property of Carpineta Fontalpino.
Carpineta Fontalpino is in the southern Chianti Classico commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga. This is home to the more famous, well known and much larger Felsina (whose wines we love). The commune is just north of Siena, and being further south in the region, is a touch warmer than the higher, farther north slopes of Radda and Giaole. This means that in a warm vintage, flavour is on show, with generous dark cherry and plum flavours driving the wine. If you’ve avoided Chianti because of lean or tart wines, you needn’t worry here.
The farming and winemaking are managed by the talented Gioia Cresti, whose training was done across the border in France and who brings and modern classic approach to the cellar. Her brother Fillipo manages all things business, and the winery has been in the family since the 1960’s, relative newcomers to a region dating back centuries.
The Fontalpino Chianti Classico is a pure expression of Tuscan Sangiovese in a good year. 100% Sangiovese from organic vineyards, naturally fermented in steel before a year in (mainly old) large format French oak barrels. The wine has an intense dark fruit, plum and currant core, though is wrapped up in the rustic warm earth tones that good Chianti should be. Dry flowers, dry herbs, orange zest, crushed rock and roasted nuts all show themselves. The palate is juicy and polished, the tannins silky and soft from the warmer vintage and long ripening period.
We recommend decanting for an hour if you can. It will cellar but we’d open them all by 2025. Serve with roast meats, charcuterie, or hard cheeses. This wine reviewed at the top of its peers for the vintage, with 91 from Robert Parker and a solid 90 from James Suckling. It’s a cracking red to have on hand and we hope you enjoy it.
Tom and Dan