Ricasoli Rocca Guicciarda Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2019.
For this review we are traveling to Italy. Well, to Chianti to be exact. This region is located in Tuscany, the province known for its rolling hills and stone castles, between the cultural cities of Siena and Florence. Wines have been produced in the Chianti region since the 13rd century, making it one of the oldest wine regions in the world. Throughout the years, the Chianti wines moved away from their image of sour taste and straw basket bottles and towards the wine of quality that we know today.
A beautiful example of a modern-day Chianti is this Rocca Guicciarda from the Chianti Classico, produced by Ricasoli.
Chianti through the Years
Chianti was first mentioned around the 14th century in combination with one of the most elite families of the time, the Medici’s. The first Chianti wine zone was actually demarcated by a Grand Duke of the same family in 1716; Grand Duke Cosimo III de’Medici. Many years later, the production of the wine had expanded massively in both quality and quantity. Eventually, in the year 1967, the Italian government awarded the wine with the DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) classification.
Throughout the years the popularity of the Chianti wines grew massively, which resulted in high demand in the 1970s. This resulted in a massive increase in vineyard plantings and eventually in wines of underwhelming quality. Knowing the potential of their wines, several quality-minded producers of Chianti wine started to develop a new sort of Chianti, that went above and beyond of the DOC rules. This eventually resulted in the creation of the super Tuscans. The rules of Chianti were modernized and now the wines have the highest classification that can be appointed to an Italian wine: the DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), awarded in 1984. So, by buying this wine, you can definitely expect a certain level of quality.
Chianti vs. Chianti Classico
Not that long ago, in 1996, the Chianti Classico became its own DOCG and separated from the Chianti DOCG. Chianti DOCG is the broadest appellation and often referred to as the lowest quality of Chianti wines. This wine requires a minimum of 70% Sangiovese grapes and a maximum of 10% the white grapes Malvasia and Trebbiano. Several other grape varieties are also allowed.
The Chianti Classico DOCG appellation is often considered to be the highest quality of Chianti wines. The Chianti Classico vineyards are often located on steeper slopes than the regular Chianti, at the heart of the Chianti region. The Chianti Classico must contain a minimum of 80% Sangiovese grapes and a maximum of 20% of other red grapes (Colorino, Canaiolo Nero, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot). Since 2006, it is no longer allowed to use white grape varieties in the Chianti Classico wines.
There are three different types of Chianti Classico if we look at the quality pyramid. Chianti Classico Annata, Chianti Classico Riserva, and Chianti Classico Gran Selezione. Today, we are reviewing a Chianti Classico Riserva, which means that the minimum aging requirement for this wine stands at 24 months, including 3 months of bottle aging. The minimum alcohol percentage for a Chianti Classico Riserva is 12,5%.
The Black Rooster
If you have ever tried a Chianti Classico, you have probably seen the red, black and white sticker on the bottle featuring a rooster. This black rooster, or gallo nero is the emblem of the Chianti Classico. This references a legend told about the use of roosters to settle a border dispute between the warring provinces of Sienna and Florence. The black rooster was the symbol of Florence, while the white represented Sienna. Looking at the emblem, it is quite clear who won this dispute!
About the Winery
Ricasoli is the self-proclaimed most representative wine producer in the Chianti Classico area. The 1.200 hectares of property include almost 240 hectares of vineyards, as well as 26 hectares of olive groves. The Ricasoli vineyards are a prime example of a true family business. In fact, the Ricasoli family name was first linked to wine in the year 1141. Do you remember when we mentioned a group of quality-minded producers of Chianti wine who started to develop a new type of Chianti? Well, this family was part of that group.
The family’s contribution to the Chianti Classico we know and love today does not stop there. In 1872, Baron Bettino Ricasoli actually originated the formula for Chianti Wine that is now known under the name of Chianti Classico. The current owner and President of the company, Francesco Ricasoli, has continued the impressive legacy and has put his time and effort into making the vineyards sustainable. He also continues to study different types of soil and is passionate about the clonal selection of the Brolio Sangiovese grape.
About the Wine
The Rocca Guicciarda Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva contains 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot. The vineyards for this wine lie on the five most representative soils in Brolio: Macigno del Chianti (sandstone), Scaglia Toscana (galestro), Monte Morello (Alberese), Marine Deposit (sandy deposits and clay at deeper levels) and Ancient Fluvial Terrace (silty deposits with clay).
The grapes were harvested from mid-September to early October in 2019. The fermentation and maceration stages took place in stainless steel tanks with 14-16 days of skin contact, after which the wine was aged for 21 months on wood and 3 to 6 months in the bottle.
In the glass this Tuscan wine portrays a beautiful ruby red colour that is typical for this variety – quite light, but warm and intense at the same time. Aroma’s include cherry, raspberry, balsamic, vanilla, and quite some earthy tones such as leather and a hint of tobacco. The wine is medium to high in acidity and has enough tannins to make sure this wine has a good maturation potential, but they do not overpower and are beautifully ripened. In the mouth the wine is soft and well-rounded, but still makes quite an impact. The aftertaste continues for some time, but is not extremely long. And with 13,5% the alcohol is slightly noticeable by a tingling feeling at the back of the throat.
This wine is a classic example of a true Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva that is worth a try by everyone who enjoys a good glass of Tuscan red. This Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva offers a good balance between the price and the quality. Food wise, the wine will pair well with hearty red meats or game meats such as duck or pigeon. We awarded this Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva with a 92 point DWA score.
Taste date: May 2023
Score: 92/100 DWA Score