2016 Brancaia Chinati Classico “Riserva”, Tuscany, Italy (Alcohol 13.5%, Residual Sugar 2 g/l) LCBO Vintages $39.95 (750ml bottle)
I’ve noted previously just how polished and crafted I consistently find the wines of Tuscan house Brancaia to be, vintage upon vintage; this 2016 Riserva is no exception.
2016 saw lower yields than usual for most producers, but Brancaia’s are always relatively low compared to much of the region. Despite a cool and wet start to the season, the later-ripening Sangiovese took full advantage of around two inches of rain experienced across Chianti in late September, before a few weeks of near-perfect conditions.
This Castellina and Radda vinyard-sourced Sangiovese fruit was aged in tonneaux, while the 20% Merlot component saw barrique. The resultant wine pours deep and dark in the glass, and exhibits an impressively expressive bouquet, with some tertiary notes (balsamic, leather, cocoa powder) already becoming apparent, adding an admirable complexity to the seriously impressive dark fruit core (black cherries/black raspberries).
Texturally the Merlot really fleshes out the palate, but the wine is all about the Sangiovese, bringing structure, elegance, and finesse to the glass. Although the wines of 2016 weren’t generally known for their structure, this wine has seen some skilled tannin management, and is a true delight in the mouth. There’s nary a rough edge here, just a beautiful example of modern, extremely well-crafted Chianti.
Although the 2016 Chianti Classico Riserva still has a long life ahead of it, this wine is already evolving quite gorgeously. I found that it certainly benefitted from a good decant before drinking.
Watch out for an interview with Brancaia winemaker Barbara Widmer about this wine (and a few other things) next week.
(Four and a half apples out of a possible five)