Gran Selezione doesn’t make wine shopping any easier.
Several years ago, Gran Selezione was yet another identifier added to the Byzantine lingua vina of Tuscany.
It takes some work to sort out the Chianti is also Tuscan, but not all Tuscan wines are Chianti. Then there is a smaller region, Chianti Classico, and “riserva,” which is aged before release.
Just about when you think you’ve sorted out the difference among Denominazione di Origine (DO), Denominazione di origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), you realize that sometimes they don’t even matter. Because a very good, even great wine, can come from the lowest of these classifications (such as Super Tuscans), and wines of the highest classification can disappoint.
Around since 2014, Gran Selezione is a Chianti Classico riserva that is aged a bit longer (at least 30 months), has slightly more alcohol (a minimum of 13%) and is made from grapes sourced from the winery’s own vineyards. You may see some from earlier than 2014 because producers were able to go back and re-classify past vintages in compliance with the new rules.
Where does that leave this mouthful: Ruffino 2014 Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita Gran Selezione 2014? A long-standing brand now under a major wine conglomerate, this wine is a very good, if pricey, example of an elegant Chianti. Smooth and soft with dry cherry and berry character, it has some licorice and nuttiness on the finish marked by very fine tannins. $40. ★★★★ 1/2
An American wine marketing person once complained that wine is the only consumer product that makes you feel like you have to read a book before you can enjoy it. While rules and information are pro-consumer, most American wine buyers look for the variety, then the brand and then maybe the region. The quasi-governmental designations of Europe, while important, can just be too much for all but the wonkiest wine drinker.
GRADE: Exceptional ★★★★★, Above average ★★★★, Good ★★★, Below average ★★, Poor ★
David Falchek executive director of the American Wine Society, reviews wines each week. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org