Rocca di Castagnoli Chianti Classico (2006, 2008)
Chianti Classico is widely available from a large list of producers, so it can often be daunting to decide which to buy when dealing with the unknown. This can be even more difficult if you, like me, prefer to deal outside the well-known, widely available brands. Sometimes you just have to take a chance on a single bottle of a brand you’ve never heard of, and build knowledge from there.
Perhaps a more reliable method of purchase is to focus on vintages. 2006 and 2007 were considered to be great vintages in the region, and my experience certainly backs up that assertion. These wines tend to be richer, rounder and fuller, still featuring vibrant acidity, but in a balanced way that can be enjoyed with or without food. The 2008s, on the other hand, tend to be thinner and more assertively acidic, often requiring food to round them out.
My experience with Rocca di Castagnoli matches the vintage trends; though both the 2006 and the 2008 were enjoyable, the 06 was a more complete, well-rounded wine. Both featured great aromas of mushrooms and dirt, but the 2006 had rounder, riper fruit on the palate. This isn’t to say that the 08 isn’t worth trying and still one of the better examples I’ve had from that vintage, just that it probably requires some food to bring it to full enjoyment. Luckily, Chianti is one of the more versatile food wines, working well with a wide variety of foods, including pesto, tomato-based sauces, salmon, chicken and pork. We ate both with tomato-based pasta dishes, and the pairings were exemplary.
Incidentally, I purchased the 2008s from Lastcallwines.com (who ships to PA) for $15 – keep an eye out as they typically do offer the same wines multiple times.
2006: Lovely balance of earth and fruit flavors; vibrant acidity, but not overwhelmingly so. Still, better with food than without. One of the more enjoyable Chiantis I’ve had recently. 90
2008: Nice funk on the nose. Typical cherry-based Chianti flavors. A touch thin/acidic on the palate, but nice with food (tomato-ragu). 88