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Winner Details

Italy: Chianti

2014 Gold: 1; Silver: 3; Bronze: 2; Commended: 3
2013 Gold: 1; Silver: 1; Bronze: 6; Commended: N/A
Must-list status: 80%
Overall SWA performance 2014 D+

The relationship between sommeliers and Chianti is rather like one of those medieval royal marriages designed to unite two warring European countries: there’s not necessarily a great deal of love there, but it serves a practical purpose.

Our tasters knew exactly what they wanted these flights to do – provide mid-weight, food-friendly wines at decent prices. What they got was a mish-mash of styles (some fruit and oak, others more traditional) and price tags that veered from the optimistic to the alarming.

This is arguably the one Italian wine region that most of the public will recognise and feel comfortable ordering without input from a sommelier. But that makes it price-sensitive, and our tasters were disappointed with the lack of good, affordable wines here.

On this evidence it won’t be long before we have no sub-£10 medal winners at all, and there were plenty of warnings from the tasters about where this apparently unstoppable inflation would lead.

At least when it came to style, our tasters were in control, generally ignoring the more modern wines and rewarding the traditional styles.

‘I like acidity, tannins and flowers more than fruit – and red fruit rather than black,’ as Bruno Piane from Babbo put it.

‘Our Gold went to a typical Chianti-style wine,’ explained team leader Annette Scarfe MW. ‘We felt that people who will choose to drink Chianti want a wine that has typical style – not something that tastes as if it could have been made anywhere, but rather something that clearly expresses the best of the character of Sangiovese.’

From the Tasting Teams

‘Is Chianti a must-have? This was a good flight, but I’m not sure that anything is a must-have any more. It’s more about finding wines that over-deliver.’ Gus Gluck, Vinoteca

‘Prices have risen dramatically, so what you could buy 10 years ago on a list for £30 will now cost you £50 to £55. It’s made it much more difficult to sell these wines.’ Frédéric Jean-Yves Billet, Luton Hoo Hotel Golf & Spa

‘You need typicity in these wines, it’s what customers will expect.’
Gordon Lawrence, Fifteen Cornwall