At the risk of repeating ourselves, we adore Tuscan reds. As in, really adore. This particular article writer has described elsewhere just how important he regards Chianti Classico in his life. The other red wines of Tuscany would also be on his suitcase list for a desert island (assuming, of course, that it had a suitable cave or cellar). Such is its popularity here that his cat is able to discern Tuscan corks from all others. And it also creates an alarming feature in him that sees him writing in the third person (from which he will now desist for the good of all concerned).
The story here is: many of our top Tuscans are back! We source many of our Tuscans directly from their producers; this allows us to bring you some of the region's most highly-rated wines:
a) at all (these are not imported by the UK's better-known players) and
b) at prices, the like of which you would not otherwise see.
What've you got?
It's not often we get to use the word cornucopia, but that's what this is. It's a veritable mixture of
being 12 wines in all. They all appear to buy at the bottom of the page, and/or click on the links below.
They stem from three main producers; let's take them in turn. We've not included all the details of each producer here; you'll find that on the product pages for their wines and there's a weblink to each producer's website by clicking the producer titles below (not the ones on the map; that's beyond our IT ken).
map from Decanter, May 2020
Tenuta di Bibbiano
Bibbiano really came to the attention of Exel customers with their 95-point Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, the Capannino 2016, which was one of the very few Outstandings in that Decanter panel. Video tasting here. We bought what we thought was loads.... only it proved not to be. Popular it was, so that's incoming. I adore the fullness and immediate approachability of this Gran Selezione (a function of its sun-exposed terroir); keep it if you will, but this is in superb drinking condition already.
- We knew of the fame of Bibbiano's Riserva, and this has become the most re-requested of the Bibbianos. At just over £20, it's truly excellent value for money, arguably offering a little more restraint and classicity in comparison with the more voluptuous Capannino. It also offers also excellent ageability. It secured high Decanter scores and definitely is no second fiddle to the Gran Selezione.
- And for more everyday work at more evryday prices. Bibbiano's 'standard'/Annata Chianti Classico (2018) is outstanding, Jancis's team thought so. It is finely balanced: a great balance of fruit and acidity in such a 'standard' wine.
Castello di Cacchiano
Castello di Cacchiano is are a producer of very classic Chianti Classicos. They particularly pride themserlves on the later release of their wines (reflected a little in their slightly higher - bit still sensible - prices). Here, we see their Gran Selezione offering as a 2013 and 2015s for their Riserva and standard CC.
They do not overly court ratings, so there are fewer reviews to point to here. They court export markets far less than their Tuscan counterparts and far less than they might; the Italian domestic market is onto a good thing. It's fair to say - notwithstanding the impressive review that gets a mention with the first wine - that these are more wines that have blown off our (tartan) socks at Exel. Don't be unduly suspicious of this claim as baseless marketeering: after all, it's not that we have loads of these wines that we need to shift (we are buying them in to order). Rather, these are superb wines we think you should know about and that we'd like to introduce to you, your racks and your cellars.
- To those of you who recognise the Cacciano name, it may be because we took a very bespoke order of their 2010 Gran Selezione, the Millennio (NB: 2010 not available!) when it topped a panel of 2010 top-end Chiantis. These were the last 150 bottles of stock at the Castello, and all we could do was wait until some more Millennio broke loose. It now has. It's the 2013, a fine vintage indeed, and it's glorious, It's no pale imitation of the 2010, however amazing that vintage was; those of you who were lucky enough to secure some 2010 will not be disappointed by the 2013.
- I tried the 2013 Millennio against the 2015 Riserva from Cacchiano blind (that's what we do on a dark Perthshire evening, the cat and me). If there is one wine I'll most definitely be taking for my personal stash/cellar, it's this one. It is wonderfully full and has superb complexity and layers to it. I was still buzzing with excitement (and not alcohol) the day after. I need - not just want - to get some more: it's like that with this one. This is a very fine Riserva (and alas not the major step cheaper than the GS that is true at Bibbiano); I predict much returning for this one but repeat the tip on our About Us page: "when you find a wine you really like, buy as much of it as you can keep and afford”. I will be.
- From that same harvest comes Cacchiano's 'standard' CC. This is anything but standard; after all, a 2015, 5-year-old CC, released late is a thing of great style. From such a rich harvest and being so meticulously made, this is the full equal of Riservas and even GSs from elsewhere (to which its extended ageing bears testament)
Poggio al Sole
Poggio al Sole (PaS) must be some of the nicest people in wine. I love dealing with these guys. But being nice is no good to Exel if the wine isn't top-flight.
We need not worry in this case.
- Their first Exel claim-to-fame, bringing them to prominence here, was a Platinum at DWWA19 for their Gran Selezione, the Casasilia. Of course, that vintage (the 2015) is long gone everywhere. But the 2016 is coming to us. Indeed, that too is now sold out in Tuscany: we're taking their last bottles. Here's a video tasting (we're only taking the 2016 at this stage, note; it's a bit early for the 2017, we feel, as that tasting says). Fans of the 2015 wll adore this. It's a 92-point scorer with Decanter, although I'd say that definitely underestimates its impact.
- This DWWA, however, sees them take another top award (Gold, 95 points), for something less immediately Tuscan. Poggio al Sole grow a very small parcel of Syrah, producing 2,000 bottles or so; their Syrah 2017 is given all the fastidious love, care and attention of their top Chianti. I drink a decent helping of good Syrah (a perk of the job) and this, apart from being superb, was quite unlike Syrah I've had from anywhere else: it had a very Tuscan feel (even that inevitable hit of cherries). It's a definite oddball. As DWWA20 said, "Savoury, focused and long, with fascinating salt and toast layers over exotic spice, tapenade, ripe raspberry and polished leather, wrapped in silky tannins".
- On the subject of wines less originally Tuscan, PaS have a very sensibly priced Super-Tuscan (Bordeaux blend, 60% Cab Sauv, 40% Merlot), the Seraselva (2016). This constantly achieves exciting ripeness levels uncommon in the Gironde and is a fabulous wine for £23.50. There's not much of it: we have available to us the final 60 botlles of this to leave Tuscany.
- We also offer PaS's 'everyday' (it isn't, and do drink responsibly) Chianti Classico (2017). It's a lighter style but elegant and delicious. It may lack the profundity of the wines above, but is a perfect Sunday lunch Tuscan hit (roast chicken = perfect).
The Bibbiano Capannino wasn't our only 95-point topper from that May 2020 Decanter Chianti panel. We also offered the Outstanding Tenuta Perano Riserva 2016 from the Frescobaldi stable/empire. As the video tasting above discussed, this was a lighter, more finessed Chianti than its Bibbiano counterpart ... and very elegant it was, too. We have secured the first block of this Riserva back into the UK for some months.