In the region of Tuscany, between the two ancient cities of Florence and Siena, are 100 square miles of hills reaching their peak at almost 3,000 feet above sea level. Called the Chianti Hills, they produce some of the most famous wines in the world.
In Tuscany, the Sangiovese grape comes in many forms. But in the hills of Chianti, with the advantage of a drainy clay soil called galestro, the wines achieve what can be considered as Italian elegance: the ability to be refined and balanced, with confident and skilled winemakers coaxing out a rustic side.
Chianti wines can be juicy and bright, or broody and dark, and they always have wonderful natural acidity. This aids with when bringing food into the equation. Chianti pairs well with lean meats like skirt steak, as well as roasted chicken. At the same time, it will sit comfortably next to classic pasta and red sauce or an earthy mushroom dish.
Classico wines can age for up to 20 years but are often approachable throughout their lifespan. But the younger examples or a good general Chianti, with a slight chill, can absolutely handle a sunny-day Caprese or carpaccio di manzo.
If you’re new to the category or just looking to grow your collection, we’ve gathered some great bottles in this roundup. There are a few Classico Riservas with individual uniqueness and a big ol’ Gran Selezione. With affordable options for every budget, this list is a true representation of all there is to love about Chianti.
Best Chiantis Under $25
Tenuta Villa Rosa ‘Ribaldoni’
Soft, tight fruit and lively acidity make this bottle an awesome selection for pleasing crowds. On the palate, it is a bit boozy, but it opens up nicely. The result is a soft mouthfeel with deep fruit notes that keep you wanting more, sip after sip.
Average price: $15
Marchesi Frescobaldi Tenuta Perano Chianti Classico DOCG
Great for pasta or pizza, this full-bodied wine gushes deep fruit with just a dollop of oak. It’s well balanced, with elegant flavors of red and black berries. Priced just under $20, this bottle is the perfect pick for entertaining or a casual weeknight dinner at home.
Average price: $17
Donna Laura ‘Alteo’ Riserva
This bottle hails from one of the seven sub-zones in the Chianti DOCG region and is made of 100 percent Sangiovese grapes. It offers the typical fruit notes of cranberry and cherry that are delightfully offset by subtle scents of white pepper. The result is a medium-depth wine that is vibrant and lively.
Average price: $18
Isole e Olena Chianti Classico DOCG
This wine artfully blends native Chianti grapes Sangiovese and Canaiolo with a touch of Syrah to create a warm and inviting red. On the palate, dense fruit flavors provide a juicy profile that is rounded out with some nice oak notes. This is a cozy wine that is soft and enjoyable.
Average price: $21
Rocca di Montegrossi Chianti Classico DOCG
With a soft, velvety palate, this wine is also rich in heady dark fruit and herbal nuances. It has a nice earthiness on the nose that perfectly complements the juicy taste of freshly squeezed cranberries. Great for pasta dishes and steak dinners alike, this wine is the ideal companion during cold weather months.
Average price: $21
Castello di Radda Chianti Classico Riserva 2015
Located in the heart of the Classico region, this modern winery is dedicated to sustainably producing classic-style wines, such as this Riserva. The foundation of this wine is rich in earthy aromas that give way to softened tannins; it showcases the beauty of an aging Chianti. It’s powerful and elegant with just enough fruit and woody flavors to stand up to its strong acidity.
Average price: $25
Best Chiantis Under $50
II Colombaio di Cencio Monticello Chianti Classico DOCG
If you’re seeking a good bottle to both cook with and enjoy, then look no further than this affordable Chianti Classico. Though it leans more toward the boozier side it still offers complex fruit flavors like cranberry and tart cherry. It’s impeccably balanced and has a decent amount of acidity that allows the fruit to shine.
Average price: $25
Bindi Sergardi ‘Calidonia’ Riserva
With a kiss of oak and just the right amount of acidity, this wine from the Bindi Sergardi family offers a balanced blend of tannins and lush flavors. It has tight fruit that keeps the wine juicy and approachable. But what really makes this bottle shine is a rich earthy quality, which gives the wine the unique forest floor aromas.
Average price: $26
Fattoria Viticcio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG
Made from Merlot, Syrah, and Sangiovese, this Chanti beautifully displays the modern blended approach to Chianti Classico. The palate delivers deep, soulful flavors of fruit and natural acidity that is just right for a variety of dishes. It’s soft yet savory and is the kind of bottle you bring to impress a crowd of wine geeks.
Average price: $28
Villa Cerna Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG
Much like the Villa Cerna estate, this wine beautifully showcases the winemaking history of the Chianti Classico region. It has dusty tannins that give a soft earthy tone to the wine, which is pleasant without being overwhelming. Whether you enjoy it now or let it age, this wine is an excellent choice for dinner parties and holiday meals.
Average price: $30
Gagliole Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG
This wine is an intriguing pick thanks to its perfumed floral scents and slightly tannic taste. The fruit flavors are elegantly balanced, showing depth while creating a light and easy drinking experience. A great accompaniment to wine and cheese nights and savory meals alike, this bottle is a pleasure to sip and share.
Average price: $40
Terra di Seta Ermo Colle Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2016
Made on a family farm overlooking the Tuscan countryside, this Gran Selezione is a true representation of the flavors of the land. Its palate offers an excellent blend of supple tannis and notes of dark berry fruits that meld into a wonderful sipping wine. Well balanced and smooth, this is an elegant bottle meant to be shared with good company.
Average price: $44
What is Chianti made from?
What does Chianti taste like?
Chianti typically has fresh red fruit flavors and a touch of dried herbs. Earthy and savory notes come to the fore in wines that have been aged in barrel and bottle.
Is Chianti a light or heavy wine?
Chianti is a medium-bodied wine that is high in both tannins and acidity.
VinePair’s tasting methodology
Throughout the year, VinePair conducts numerous tastings for our popular Buy This Booze column, and wine and spirits reviews. Our mission is to provide a clear, reliable source of information for drinkers, providing an overview applicable to day-to-day buying and drinking.
Tastings are not typically conducted blind. In alignment with our reviews mission, we believe in purposefully tasting all products as our readers typically would, with full knowledge of the producer, the region, and — importantly — the price.
For Buy This Booze roundups, we typically include a maximum of one expression per brand, though we do allow multiple products from the same production facility (i.e., released under different labels).
For this Chianti roundup, we considered a number of different factors before finalizing the list. Overall, we aimed to highlight the surprising and sometime underappreciated range of wines this region delivers. The entry-level bottles represent the best at their price point in terms of balance and concentration of flavor. As for the more expensive inclusions, these wines were chosen because they justified a higher price point for the category through their nuanced flavors and textural complexity.