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Rocca di Montegrossi (Italy)
Chianti Classico 2003

I've just returned from a visit to a whole bunch of Chianti Classico producers, and without a doubt the wines of Montegrossi impressed me most. Chianti Classico producers are split between those trying to preserve and refine "traditional" Chianti, made only from Sangiovese and other indigenoius grapes, and those who are using the maximum permitted proportion of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%) and ageing in French barriques. Montegrossi falls into the former camp, but is willing to use touches of barrique or "international" grapes if and when the vintage demands it, and always

with restraint and impeccable attention to quality. The wet 2002 demanded some cabernet and merlot in the blend and some barrique ageing to give their Chianti Classico some body (and it is a terrific wine - buy it if the 2003 is not yet available), but for 2003 they returned to 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo aged only in large oak vats. There is a fragrant minerality about the nose, with crisp cherry and redcurrant fruit and a crushed, dry fruit and cedar quality. On the palate it is silky and smooth, but extremely fresh with leafy, cherryish fruit and a juicy, mouthwatering quality of tannin and acidity. Around 9.99 Philglas & Swiggot, Uncorked, La Reserve, Imbibros, Veritas, Bacchanalia, Ten Acres, Webbers.