Chianti wine review 2020
We’ve got 5 Chianti wines from Italy. Sourced from leading supermarkets Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Lidl and Marks and Spencer. Which will be the best value Chianti in 2020?
Which wine should you drink with your Easter roast? Well if you’re going for a traditional lamb, a beautiful pairing would be an Italian Chianti! We’ve searched the supermarkets to find you the best and some of the rest for around a tenner and under. Easter 2020 is going to be a difficult time with the huge impact of Coronavirus, so we hope one of these cheeky Italians will at least help you relax with a nice glass
Many of you will remember the Chianti of old, a short bottle covered in a strange straw like nest aptly named a ‘fiasco’ in Italian. Found in every community Italian restaurant in the 80’s and 90’s. The image doesn’t strike up fond memories of quality does it? Well, Chianti has come a long way since those days and now offers something quintessentially rustic and Italian.
The original grape makeup of Chianti was 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia Bianca (a white grape). During the 1970’s some winemakers started to reduce the quality of their product by lowering the standard of white wine added and from 1995 some even made it with 100% Sangiovese grapes, significantly changing the character of the wine. It’s worth noting that for a wine to be called Chianti these days, it must contain at least 80% Sangiovese grapes. Thankfully since then, many winemakers have again increased their quality for a more lucrative export market, particularly in the EU.
What are you looking for?
As with all Italian wines there is much significance in the labelling itself. To be called a Classico the wine must be made within the Classico area of Tuscany which includes the original Chianti region. Wines from the Classico region can also be identified by the black rooster on the seal on the neck of the bottle. Most of the wines here today are from that very region with the exception of 2 that are from the outer regions. The other notable distinction is the label ‘Riserva’ this denotes that the wine must have been aged for at least 38 months as opposed to 3 months with regular Chianti and 10 months with Chianti Classico. This should give the wine a deeper and more rounded feel. As seasoned winehackers will remember from our Prosecco review, there is also a difference between bottles classified as DOC and DOCG, with the latter offering a guarantee of quality given more specific rules regarding production. In Chianti this is even more complicated with different DOCG rules in each sub region, but let’s not get bogged down in this, it’s more for the sommelier than your Easter roast. We also now offer a fantastic DOCG Chianti with free home delivery, see the Castello Dei Rampolla Chianti here.
The rise of the Super Tuscan
It’s possible you may have heard of a wine know as a ‘Super Tuscan’, these have increased in popularity over recent years, essentially born out of a frustration at the strict DOC guidelines in the Chianti region. Winemakers began experimenting by adding usually Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon to their blend and often reducing the prescribed 80% Sangiovese content. This gives a much bolder wine than the average Chianti but can only carry the lowliest title of table wine and more recently IGT Toscana. This classification has less restrictive rules and can be on all sorts of Tuscan wine. Don’t be fooled by its lack of letters after its name however, some of these wines are exceptionally good. The most famous of which is one of Boris Johnson’s favourites ‘Sassicaia’.
Chianti and Food Pairing
So back to our wines du jour. Chianti is typically very dry wine with high acidity and pronounced tannins, so it’s not necessarily a great wine for drinking without food! With food however, it takes on a whole new characteristic. The high levels of acidity and tannin cut through fatty meats, making it perfect for that Easter lamb. Or if Domino’s is more your style, it’s also perfect with pizza!
What you should be tasting:
- Sour Cherries
- Red Fruits
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Sweet Tobacco
With thanks to Maddie and Tamsin who joined the winehack team for the latest blind tasting.
Smell kirsch, vanilla, tobacco, strong vapours
Taste hint of strawberry initially and oak present, quite light body that drys out quickly
Finish medium tannins and good length
Buy this if… you want a really superb value Chanti which despite its cost felt a cut above the others and was the favourite across the board for our tasters
Smell strong vibrant nose, alcohol comes through
Taste bolder darker fruit, hint of plum and candied fruit. Dryness comes with cranberry
Finish more lingering finish with acidity ever present
Buy this if… you want something which is a touch darker in body and fruit that the Lidl offering, you’ll pay more for it though
Smell rich, sweet and sour
Taste darker fruits again with sweetness and acidity competing
Finish medium length, acidic but a little less flavour
Buy this if… you want something which sits in between the M&S and Lidl bottles in terms of balance, it’s a bit pricey though
Smell vanilla and slightly rustic but not lighter
Taste candied fruit, tobacco and oak present, taste a little dampened
Finish long finish but a bit stewed
£8 (currently on offer for £7 at time of writing)
Buy this if… you want something a little less fruity but more rustic on the palate
Smell not too much going on, but hint of blackcurrent and tobacco
Taste dark fruits but very dry
Finish lingering but slightly bitter, not much tannin