Cecchi Sagrato Chianti Riserva, Italy 2020 (£6.99, reduced from £10.79 until Tuesday, 15 March, Waitrose)
Few wine regions have a similar range in price to what you’ll find in Tuscany. At one extreme, you have some of the world’s most spectacular wine estates that produce wines with an increasingly pedantic (and expensive) attention to detail. The effortless, velvety feel and brocade complexity of wines such as Ornelia 2019 – a super Tuscan (or Bordeaux-inspired) red blend from the southern Tuscan coastal vineyards of Bolgheri, with its bells and whistles (online) launch, with artist commission Completed limited-edition bottles and labels in February before being released to the general public on 1 April (with a retail price of around £200) – a luxury good equal to anything in Florence’s fashion house. On the other hand, you have a large amount of semi-industrial Chianti, most of which are thin and severe and sold as house wines in the world’s less-discriminatory trattorias and pizzerias, but at least some of it – of schi. Proceed the bottle on-offer Waitrose – offering a satisfyingly complementary sour-cherry companion to pasta.
Morrison the Best Toscana, Italy 2019 (£10, Morrisons)
Tuscany has been at the center of some of the wine world’s tumultuous battle over questions of authenticity. Should growers limit their efforts to local grape varieties, especially variants of Sangiovese, the great red variety that is the sole or majority ingredient in its most famous red wines: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano? Or should growers be able to plant what they like using international (by which they really mean “French”) varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah? Like all wine questions, I’m inclined to think of the woolly-wet liberal persuasion in the sense that both have their place. Modern Tuscany would be much poorer without wines such as Ornelia and its great super Tuscan Bolgheri neighbor, Sassicia, with their distinctive Tuscan takes on the classic Bordeaux formula. And blending a wine like Morrison’s Sangiovese with Pugnitello and Bordeaux’s Cabernet and Merlot, it proves you can mix things up and create a deeply chewy, good value, warm red.
Squarcialupi Cosimo Bojola, Chianti Classico, Italy 2018 (£22.45, independent.wine)
Still, while I’m far from dogmatic on the issue, it has to be said that the vast majority of my favorite Tuscan red wines over the years have been sanguine-based. I’ll start with a list of recent standouts that, among them, show off the grape’s varietal capabilities, with a pairing from the classic Chianti Classico: Castello di Ama Chianti Classico Ama 2019 (£20.95, vinissmus.co.uk) astonishingly is fragrant and fluent, with notes of oregano and sage amongst fresh cherry fruits, while the Pogarino Chianti Classico 2019 (£19.95, leaandsandeman.co.uk) is equally pure and cherry-like, almost succulent, with a tart-plum – Along the edge of the skin. Also in the Chianti Classico region, I was taken with the current fashion, along with Tuscan, most ancient winemaking vessels, to use earthy amphora: the citrus-sweet red fruits of Campari and the bitter herbs in the Juicy of Joy. – A mixture of herbs. Cosimo Bojola, while Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2016 mixes deep contemplative depth with charming aromatic details (£92.23, wine-invest.co.uk).