Highly Recommended 2004 Chianti Classicos

Fifteen of the finest Chianti Classicos from the 2004 vintageto enjoy now or for years to come

While 2004 was a challenging vintage in many parts of Europe, beautiful wines were produced in Tuscany. Demand for these cuvées has been surging as the wine trade as well as consumers have begun to recognize the quality of this vintage. The following reviews come from my highly regarded colleague, Italian wine expert Antonio Galloni.

87 points Castellare 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva

This is a large-scale wine with attractive notes of earthiness, leather, dark fruit, smoke, tobacco, and wild herbs. Anticipated maturity: now to 2012. $35

87 points Castello di Bossi 2004 Chianti Classico

Somewhat forward in its color, aromas, and flavors considering the vintage, this wine offers up notes of leather, spices, plums, and prunes. It is a soft, approachable Chianti to enjoy between now and 2010. $20

89 points Castell'in Villa 2004 Chianti Classico

This estate's 2004 Chianti Classico offers notable complexity, as layers of spiced dark cherries, spices, and leather develop in the glass, followed by balsamic overtones that add further nuance. This is a lovely wine to enjoy over the next few years. Anticipated maturity: now to 2014. $30

89 points Piazzano 2004 Chianti Riserva Rio Camerata

Piazzano's 2004 Chianti Riserva Rio Camerata is a medium-bodied offering endowed with spiced dark cherries and plums intertwined with balsamic overtones. It is a beautifully layered, stylish Chianti to drink now and over the next few years. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2012. $35

90 points Barone Ricasoli 2004 Chianti Classico Castello di Brolio

The flagship 2004 Chianti Classico Castello di Brolio is a selection of the estate's best sangiovese. The wine reveals a sweet, layered expression of ripe red fruit, spices, and tobacco. Eighteen months in French oak gives this pretty, medium-bodied Chianti a distinctly contemporary feel. The tannins come across as quite firm, but they should soften with a few years of bottle age. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2022. $60

90 points Castellare 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna Il Poggiale

The single-vineyard 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna Il Poggiale possesses outstanding balance and harmony. Perfumed vibrant fruit, new leather, spices, and toasted oak flow from a deceptively medium-bodied wine. This fresh, elegant, refined Chianti should continue to drink well for another decade or so. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019. $45

90 points Castello di Nipozzano 2004 Chianti Rufina Riserva

Nipozzano's 2004 Chianti Rufina Riserva possesses gorgeous, well-delineated dark cherries, menthol, spices, earth, and smoke in an engaging, slender style that is typical of this appellation. It is a beautifully poised wine to drink between 2009-2016. $23

90 points Le Cinciole 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva Petresco

This 100% sangiovese is a gorgeous, refined effort revealing crushed flowers, raspberries, licorice and smoke in its silky-textured, layered frame. This generous, medium- to full-bodied sangiovese was fermented in steel, with malolactic fermentation in cement, followed by 18 months in French oak. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019. $50

91 points Ruffino 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale Oro

This remains the bellwether wine from this historic property. The 2004 is a layered, full-bodied wine with attractive notes of tobacco, sweet red cherries, wild herbs, and toasted oak. The wine's density, persistence, and complexity make it one of the better versions in recent memory. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2022. $40

92 points Castello di Meleto 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna Casi

An earthy, powerful wine imbued with dark cherries, tar, licorice, and toasted oak, this 2004 needs another year or two in the bottle to settle down. However, it is a gorgeous, layered wine of considerable potential, with pretty notes of sweetness that linger on the long finish. The Vigna Casi is 85% sangiovese, 5% colorino, and 10% merlot aged in medium-sized barrels. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019. $46

92 points Felsina 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva

Felsina's 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva displays the pedigree of this superb Tuscan vintage in its expansive, layered personality. The wine develops beautifully in the glass as tar, smoke, earthiness, underbrush, menthol, toasted oak, and dark cherries emerge from its medium-bodied frame. This terrific Chianti should continue to drink well for another decade or so. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019. $30

93 points Castello di Monsanto 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio

The gorgeous 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio is a layered, finessed wine of notable detail, with tons of potential hiding behind its restrained facade. With air, notes of earthiness, tobacco, spices, menthol, and dark fruit gradually emerge from this classically built wine. Although the wine is beautifully balanced today, it requires additional cellaring to blossom fully. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2029. $65

93 points Rocca di Montegrossi 2004 Chianti Classico San Marcellino

The 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva San Marcellino is made from 100% sangiovese and spent 18 months in French Allier oak barrels. It reveals a powerful, brooding expression of scorched earth, tobacco, dark fruit, and toasted oak. The layers of fruit need bottle age to gain volume and depth while the building tannins require time to settle down even though the use of French oak is very refined. This wine of superb weight and density offers tremendous potential. Readers looking for a powerful style of sangiovese will love this wine, but patience is required. Simply put, this is a terrific effort from Rocca di Montegrossi. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2024. $60

95 points Felsina 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia

This is a serious Chianti endowed with endless layers of sweet dark cherries, smoke, minerals, flowers, and sweet toasted oak. With air, the layers fill out, revealing an expansive, richly textured wine of pure breed. At times the wine has been incredibly primary and brooding, while at other times it has shown the sheer power it holds in reserve. This is a great effort from Felsina. It's a wine fit for kings and queens. Rancia also happens to be one of the finest values in wine today. It is highly recommended. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2024. $45

95 points Fontodi 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna del Sorbo

An explosive wine endowed with a layered, sumptuous expression of sweet dark fruit, menthol, licorice, and floral overtones, this stunningly beautiful wine offers tremendous persistence yet it will require patience as its structural components are formidable. Vigna del Sorbo is made from 80% sangiovese and 20% cabernet sauvignon which was grafted onto the rootstocks of the white varieties that were previously planted in the vineyard. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2024. $69

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