After visiting in September of 2022, I can confirm that Chianti Classico is magical. The rolling hills of endless vineyards, cypress trees that reach as tall as the sky, and the olive groves that supply some of the top olive oil in the world come together to create the region's unique landscape. Sangiovese is the star grape variety, and its expression in Chianti Classico is one of my favorites. With that being said, when choosing a Chianti Classico producer, I always consider heritage, respect for terroir, and sustainability. I want to taste the purity of the wine…the energy radiating from the glass. It would be no surprise that one of my favorite Chianti Classico producers is Cecchi.
The Cecchi name has been synonymous with wine (and Tuscany) for over 125 years. The journey began in 1893 with Luigi Cecchi and his superb tasting skills. His time as a professional wine taster lead to the creation of the company we know today. Fourth-generation brothers Andrea and Cesare Cecchi are now at the helm leading the way with innovation while still keeping true to traditional winemaking techniques. The word innovation really comes into context when it comes to sustainability. The utmost respect for terroir is essential when it comes to protecting the land. The Cecchi family uses new technologies that reduce energy consumption and the use of natural resources, significantly reducing their carbon footprint.
Cecchi’s “Chianti Classico” family of products is a fantastic representation of the brand’s heritage. This specific line consists of Storia di Famiglia Chianti Classico DOCG, Riserva di Famiglia Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, and Valore di Famiglia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG. Each wine fits into a different quality pyramid level, giving options on price points and overall structure and aging capabilities.
Before we get into the specifics of this wine, it’s important to note the DOCG rules for Chianti Classico. Wines labeled as Chianti Classico DOCG must be made from 80-100% Sangiovese and aged for a minimum of 12 months. These wines are often seen as the most approachable earlier on and are noted by bright cherries and dried flowers. Storia di Famiglia is the Family’s most recognizable label and one of the larger productions. Upon the first sip, you will experience tart red cherry, crushed cranberry, dried rose, clove, and dried herbs. The palate is round with fine-grained tannins and abundant freshness. It’s an elegant wine that would please a large audience or could be enjoyed with a weeknight meal.
Moving up the quality pyramid, we reach the Riserva level. For a wine to be labeled Chianti Classico Riserva, it must be aged 24 months before release with at least 3 of those months in bottle. These wines have a little more structure than the Annata, and the fruit concentration tends to be more intense. The Riserva di Famiglia Chianti Classico Riserva is only made in the best vintages, with a production of around 40,000 bottles. It was a real treat to taste this wine, and I can confidently say the fruit purity was out of this world. This wine is beautifully perfumed with notes of red cherry, dried violet, sweet spice, and dried thyme. The tannins are well integrated with smooth edges but are prominent enough to allow the bottle to age a bit if desired. It’s the perfect wine to be paired with grilled meats in tomato-based dishes.
Gran Selezione is considered to be the epitome of quality in Chianti Classico. Starting from January 1st, after harvest, the wine must be aged for a minimum of 30 months, and at least 3 of those months must be in bottle. These wines have great structure, elegance, power, and complexity. Valore di Famiglia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione is made of 100% Sangiovese coming from low-yielding vines nestled in calcareous clay loam. This extremely limited production is made from estate vineyards (only 13,000 bottles produced). This is a wine capable of aging and will immediately transport you to those rolling hills upon first sip. The perfect companion for a special occasion, this wine can be enjoyed with hearty, savory meals consisting of red meat, game, mushrooms, and creamy pastas.