Il Molino di Grace, Il Margone Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2011 DOCG – Deciphering the Label Code
While picking out a nice bottle to go with a red meat sauce Bucatini pasta, garlic bread and salad, decided on this aging bottle in the cellar. It dawned on me that the label on the bottle has a lot of valuable information. So I will break it down “phrase by phrase” to make this great wine more understandable.
The Winery & Land:
First, il Molino di Grace, means the “windmill of grace”. It was named for a 19th century windmill on the vineyard property that has been producing grapes on the property for over 350 years. The winery was built in 1997 by the Frank Grace family in the heart of Chianti region, Tuscany just north of Siena. The land has been certified “Certificato Biologico” since 2010, meaning the fertilizer used in the vineyards is organic, the yeast used in winemaking is indigenous, the grapes are harvested by hand, they use the cuttings of the vines to fuel the heating & air-conditioning of the winery to eliminate the use of gas and many more specific items.
There are three main designations for Chianti wines: Chianti Classico DOCG, Chianti Classico Riserva and Chianti Classico Gran Selezione. Here is how they are broken down and differentiated.
**Chianti Classico DOCG – This refers to the hilly region between Siena and Florence. It represents about 18,000 acres of vineyards. This region was well known for making beautiful and full wines with it being delineated a special wine producing area in 1716. It wasn’t until 1996 that the government granted a separate DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) for wines within the region. Ever since, Chianti Classico considers itself no longer a subzone of Chianti. This area is known for complex, earthy and spicy Sangiovese wines. The wine with this designation require a one year period of aging before being released to the market.
** Chianti Classico Riserva – Is the next level up and has two additional quality levels, determined by additional aging and levels of quality. Labeled Chianti Classico Riserva, which requires aging for two years in barrel, plus an additional three months in bottle, before hitting the store shelves.
** Chianti Classico Gran Selezione – Lastly and the newest designation, decreed in 2014, within Chianti Classico is Chianti Classico Gran Selezione. This was developed to denote wines of superior quality. This designation requires wine to be 100 percent estate fruit, with at least 30 months of maturation in oak barrels. The Italian wine tasting board must confirm that the wine is worthy of this designation. Not every vintage is awarded Grand Selezione. This is a prized wine for Chianti Classico!
Many Classico’s are today made of 100% Sangiovese but can include up to 20% of other approved varieties grown within the Classico borders. The best Classico’s will have a bright acidity, sufficient tannins and be full-bodied with plenty of fruit (plums, black cherry, blackberry). Also common among the best Classico’s are expressive notes of cedar, dried herbs, fennel, balsamic or tobacco.
Finally the Wine:
So this 2011 wine lived up to all the expectations of storing it for years in the cellar. First on the eyes, it comes across as deep, dense ruby red coloring. The viscosity, is medium to medium heavy. On the nose, you are greeted with a symphony of aromas all in perfect pitch of black dried fruits, spices of pepper, prune, strawberry, bramble, clove, espresso and black cherry. What is distinct is the old world scent on the nose. If you are not transformed to rolling hills of Tuscany on the aroma, you will be on the first taste. In the mouth, the palate is treated to all the aromas mentioned in proportion and with a big full body that is well structured showing the complexity of this high designation. The cedar and spices with a smidgen of tobacco coupled with the sweetness of blackberry provide a delightfully long, exotic and quality finish.
Rating range from 92 points (Decanter/Wine Enthusiast) to 93 points by James Suckling. Personally on this scale, I would give it 95 points given it modest price point $40-45. Only 2,000 cases were produced.
Truly, this wine should be sought out for your next Italian meal.