Caparsa: Chianti that tastes like real Chianti

3/11/22 -

Sometimes I think way too much about Sangiovese…In my mind I have this picture (or pictures) of “true” Chianti Classico, filtered through the lenses of both village and producer. Monte Bernardi in Panzano is lifted and precise—nervy and taut with a pungent mineral core, that leads with elegant, pure fruit fanning out from the structure. Montesecondo in San Casciano boasts ripe red fruits and florals with deceptive structure lurking within and just enough iron and forest floor emerging from within to reveal the classic Chianti character that comes with time in the bottle. And perhaps one of my favorite expressions of Chianti Classico is the vibrant and decidedly wild Caparsa in Radda in Chianti. Especially the Caparsina Riserva, which far from exhibiting spoofiness or overt polish, seems to joyfully embrace its sauvage, wooded-glen, bumptious nature. Does this display the wild/Morello cherry, forest floor, ferruginous/bloody character of Radda? Enthusiastically. But it also seems to dance to the wild song of Pan (and his pipes) with abandon and seems assured in its lack of overt polish or worse: deracinated civility.

Sure, this will shine with bistecca at a shiny trattoria, but perhaps this will be more confident on a rough-hewn farmhouse table with a ragu of freshly gathered wild mushrooms with polenta or grilled sausage fashioned from that pesky wild boar that has been devouring the precious grapes from the vines since veraison. And lest I relegate this to the role of rustic country cousin to so many more polished wines, one would be hard-pressed to find a more honest, forthright, soulful wine from the region. And based on prior vintages, it’s hard to imagine a contemporary Chianti that will blossom more with age, if one is patient enough to sock away a couple (or dozen) bottles. John McIlwain

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