2011 Castello dei Rampolla Chianti Classico

It’s been a while since I’ve had a Chianti Classico. After tasting this I regret having waited so long. I also regret that I did not buy more of this. It was my last bottle and I’m already upset at the realization that I may not be able to drink this wine again. Yes, it’s that good.

Rampolla has been owned by the di Napoli family since 1739. For most of that time wheat, olives and other crops were sharecropped. In 1965 Alceo di Napoli inherited the land and set out to produce wines worthy of the land located in the valley of the ‘Conca d’Oro’ just south of Panzano in Chianti. He planted vineyards and sold some of those first grapes to the likes of Piero Antinori. It would not be until 1975 that he made and bottled his first wines. The estate is now run by his son and daughter Luca and Maurizia after passing away unexpectedly in 1991.

This area, the Conca d’Oro or Golden Basin or Valley, has been historically significant since the middle ages. The valley has a perfect southern exposure making the growing of wheat here special (the valley gets its’ name from the golden wheat fields). So much so that the cities of Florence and Siena were both vying for this land situated in the middle of Chianti. Today, that wheat has been replaced by grapes and this part of Chianti Classico is one of the most exciting areas of the appellation. This is hot bed of organic and biodynamic producers as the conditions are nearly ideal. The producers are very conscious of the fact that they are doing something special in this area of Tuscany. Not only are the exposures almost perfect throughout the basin but the soils are perfectly matched to the Sangiovese grape.

This is drinking well right now with dark red and black fruits wrapped up in an elegant package. The tannins have had time to mellow and the bright acidity keeps everything fresh. There is a touch of smoke, earth, tobacco leaf and just a hint of that Sangiovese barnyard funk (I mean that in a good way). The addition of small amounts of Cabernet and Merlot help this out by adding some complexity. Perfect with Bistecca Fiorentina.

If you can find this buy as much as you can. At $34 it’s not inexpensive but worth every penny.

2010 Bodegas Hermanoz Perez Pascuas El Pedrosal Crianza, Ribera del Duero, Spain


Convinced of the excellent potential of the vineyards owned by their father, Mauro Pérez, the Pérez Pascuas brothers founded their namesake bodega in 1980 striving to produce top quality wines. The family has focused on quality from the very beginning. Today, Bodegas Hermanos Pérez Pascuas is a well-established cellar where two generations work hand in hand to achieve worldwide recognition. The winery vinifies its own grapes from 335 acres of vineyards located around the town of Pedrosa de Duero, a town with a winemaking tradition that spans over a hundred years. A significant number of vines are over 25 years old. The terrain is fairly level and sparse with chalky-clay soils that Tempranillo (called Tinto Fino here) loves. The main variety in the vineyards is Tinto Fino with a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (for the Gran Selecion wine). The winery makes a range of wines that run the gamut from early drinking to age-worthy. There are 5 versions of Vina Pedrosa- 12 months oak, Crianza, Finca La Navilla, Reserva and the Gran Reserva. And then there is the flagship wine Pérez Pascuas – Gran Reserva which comes from vines that are over 60 years old. All these wines are exemplary, with outstanding, elegantly expressive personality and a structure built to age at phenomenal prices. The wine featured here is their entry-level offering that is just as striking as the Vina Pedrosa wines at a friendlier price point of under $20.

The 2010 El Pedrosal Crianza is 100% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) and sees 12 months in a combination of small French and American oak barrels adding a smoky spice to the dark red and black fruits on the wildly perfumed nose. The wine envelopes the palate with dark cherry and blackberry along with some vanilla and a touch of coconut. The tannins are robust but ripe adding great structure to this full-bodied wine. This is absolutely delicious now or can cellar for another 3 years. My advice is to drink this sooner with the traditional dish of the region: Roast baby lamb with plenty of rosemary.