Winemaker of the Year’s 95pt Gran Selezione
Since February of 2014, when the first “Gran Selezione” bottlings were rolled out in Chianti Classico, the classification has been used to separate the wines at the top from all the rest. To James Suckling, Wine Spectator’s longtime European bureau chief, nobody crafted better “Gran Selezione” in 2013 than Marco Pallanti at Castello di Ama; the critic selected three of Pallanti’s 2013s for his Honor Roll. Fontodi’s Vigna del Sorbo (96 points, $90) led the way, but right after came Castello di Ama’s Vigneto La Casuccia (95 points, $175) and Vigneto Bellavista (94pts, $185). But by far the best value is the 95-point San Lorenzo — at just $43.
This seductive blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Malvasia Nera and Merlot comes from one of the best terroirs in the very heart of the Chianti Classico zone, in the hills north of Siena.
In what Jancis Robinson described as the “classic” 2013 vintage, a cool spring preceded a “picture-perfect” summer. A long, slow ripening, culminating with harvest in October, allowed perfect sugar, color, and flavor to develop without sacrificing freshness and acidity. It gave Marco Pallanti the opportunity to produce a glorious “Gran Selezione” — a tremendous wine that showcases the superb quality of the 2013 vintage.
Marco’s singular touch leads to what James Suckling called “super silky with a gorgeous density and precision” in his 95-point review. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and Vinous both lobbed 94 points. If this is what the newly-minted wine category has in store for oenophiles, it’s going to enjoy superstar status for quite some time.
The DOGC’s new “Gran Selezione” threshold puts the wines from the best growers in the Chianti Classico region into a top-level classification they deserve. Longer aging, higher ripeness requirements, and exclusive use of estate-grown grapes are all part of the rules designed to include only the top terroirs and wines.