Aging of Sangiovese? And a TN for 1997 Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva Villa Antinori

Hi everyone-

I’m intrigued by the aging potential of Sangiovese. I love the young stuff, but have little experience with anything >10 yrs or so. It would be great to hear your experiences. Any appellations that you recommend in particular? Producers? What age do you generally enjoy your Sangiovese at? Any other thoughts or advice?

I recently acquired a 1997 Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva Villa Antinori and tried it last night with pasta and Marcella Hazan’s classic butter & onion tomato sauce. I know this was never meant to be a 25 yr+ bottle, but it was inexpensive, and I thought worth the gamble. It was ok, C+/B- when at it’s best with food. Here’s my TN for those who are interested:

Perfect cork and fill. Significant bricking in the glass, though nowhere near all brown. Nose is a nice blast of aged sour cherry, tobacco, and earth- it smelled great. But the fruits were faded in the mouth, lots of earth and cigar wrapper flavors, which I don’t mind, but an unpleasant rancid soy sauce on the finish that I was not a fan of at all. This bottle was drinkable, nice with some pasta, but was at it’s best 10+ yrs ago.

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Sangiovese or Chianti Classico? As I’m sure you know, Brunellos can comfortably age for decades.

I don’t have enough experience to tell you which producers of Chianti Classico (+Riservas) can go beyond 10 years, but I generally would shy away from a CC over 7-8 years and a Riserva over 12. Of course I’m sure there are plenty of exceptions to the rule from high-end producers like: Castello di Ama, Fontodi, Monteraponi. Vintage quality matters too, of course.

What’s exciting (to me) is the new focus on elevating the CC Gran Selezione as not only a higher quality and more refined wine, but also with UGAs within Chianti Classico.

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1997 Villa Antinori Badia a Passignano was thrilling at 20yrs.
1981 Castello di Monsanto Riserva stunning 5 yrs ago.
I bought a lot of 13s and 16s hoping for the same magic in the future.


That is one that I’m collecting as well. Here’s my note on the '93.

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I have exactly the opposite experience.

Well, unless two decades counts as “aging comfortably for decades”. Apart from a few great Brunello producers, I really haven’t seen many Brunellos ageing gracefully beyond 20-ish years. We have had a few Brunello verticals and surprisingly many wines start to feel tired, oxidative or just badly past their peak after 30-ish years. Those that don’t seem to be more or less at their peak - not necessarily falling apart anytime soon, but not really gaining anything more from additional aging.

However, when it comes to Sangioveses and Sangiovese-heavy blends from the CC region, even many non-Riservas have been just wonderful at the age of 30-65 years (haven’t had any older than that, though). Nevertheless, I think that for the most part great, traditionally made CCs and CCRs age more reliably and often at a slower pace than many Brunellos. Sure, there is a ton of CC that is not meant for aging, but then again, many wines age much better than one might even expect them to. And I’m really not sure if the combination of warmer climate and mandatory 24 months aging in oak is doing any good for Brunellos. Usually the producers that use botti instead of tonneaux or barriques seem to fare better - IMO in many vintages 24 months in a barrique is just too much for a Brunello to handle.

FWIW, I’m not sure if Riserva adds that much aging potential. Having tasted a good handful of CCs and CCRs at similar age next to each other, I think Riservas just pack more power, grip and structure, but not necessarily more aging potential. Usually the wines have been aging at a more or less similar pace.


I’m just painting broad strokes here as both regions have a lot diversity. I would say the average BdM would outlast an average CC if the relative quality is similar. Of course, “quality” is a loaded term

As for CC vs. Riserva, most producers I’ve spoken with would say the Riserva has more longevity. Poggerino would be one we have in common. When it comes to these things, I tend to defer to them. While not a rule, many producers use higher quality grapes for the Riserva and Gran Selezione and usually a higher % of Sangiovese.

The old true and tested applies when it comes to what to look for, good producers (regardless of the region).

Some of the Sangiovese wines I have had with +10 years:


  • 1996 Fuligni Brunello (drunk in 2018)

Browning on the edges and on the first day, fresh fruits with red cherries (and berries). Leather and earthiness coming through, somewhat tart acidity and sweet orange (?) and licorice.

Main change on the second day - More pronounced menthol, still red cherries but tone of darker fruits. Still very fresh, the tart acidity no where to be found. Fresh, alive and the wine is definitely in a great spot, though no rush based on this bottle.

Long finish, rather smooth silky with fine grained tannins and still solid but balanced acidity. Towards the end sweet fruits flavors coming through.

Chianti Classico:

  • 1998 Podere le Bonice CC le Trame (two bottles, the last in spring 2023)

Cherries, raspberries, wild strawberries. Menthol, herbs, licorice, Asian spices. Tannins are silky yet a dusty graveliness to it. A long sapidic finish.

The silkiness of the tannins and perhaps a hint of leather together with the spices were the main things giving away that it’s a 25 year old wine.

What a Chianti Classico!

Nobile di Montepulciano

  • 2012 Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

I went through a few up and downs with this wine. From kind of liking it on release and then after a few years I couldn’t stand it as it showed too much oak.

Then this year, after passing the +10 mark I have to admit that it turned into a quite good wine and the oak was much less intrusive.

If we take Brunello and Chianti Classico (+ up the hierarchy), my experience so far, and mine is probably relatively limited compared to many others here, is that the former can age into something more sensual - texturally. While the latter maintains a bit more vertical/static/gritty profile in terms of the texture.

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I’m not so surprised that this is well past its prime. I used to drink the Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva regularly back in the 80s and 90s, but I don’t believe this was every considered in the top tier of CCRs. Very large amounts were produced, I think. (They now use the Villa Antinori brand and the label that used to go on the CCR for a cheaper IGT Toscano wine. The CCR now has a snazzier label.)

Plus, 1997 was quite a warm vintage. It was highly touted, but I think probably overrated and, in any event, maybe not the one I’d pick to be the most long-lived.

Thanks, John. I wasn’t aware of 97 being a warm year for Tuscany, so that’s good to know. As I said in my OP, I realize this was probably never meant to age this long. I just happened upon it for cheap and figured “what the heck”. I had zero expectations of this particular bottle, but it did have me wondering about againg Sangiovese in general- hence, my post.

I think it is going to depend on the year and producer in terms of really long-term aging potential, but as a Brunello fan, I think >10 years and <20 years is a sweet spot with a long decant (I typically do a 2-3 hour decant and then a double decant back into the bottle before serving) if drinking at the 10 year mark. Some of the Brunellos I have been enjoying with that age are:

Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova
Valdicava (entry)
Renieri Riserva
Fuligni (entry)

Biondi-Santi is also really good of course, but the price is more expensive than the above.


Ravi- funny you should mention Valdicava. I think that’s my only other experience with Sangiovese >20 yrs old. I had a 1999 a few years back and it was very good.

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Me too.

And I would say the exact opposite. I used to think BdM is one of the longer-lived styles of Tuscan wine, but the more I have tasted, the more I think BdM’s capability to age is overrated. CCs of relative quality do age better.

Of course excluding top-tier old-school producers like Biondi-Santi, which age like crazy.

And yes, some producers’ CCR’s do make wines that age better than their CCs. However, I’d still argue that the effect of Riserva on the aging capability seems overrated - even if a lot of “better stuff” goes into the Riserva, the basic CC can age remarkably well, too.

Especially in cases where the Riserva is aged in barriques and the basic version in botti casks or unlined concrete tanks. The more I taste the wines, the more I think the that best vessel to age a wine from the aging potential’s point of view is as big as possible (although variability is quite large here - there are lots of Sangioveses that are aged in barriques and age effortlessly for decades). However, these are just simplifications based on averages.


Ageing is fairly random with CCR at least. I find that Brunellos are more regular in their ageing but certainly not better in a general sense. Some CCR from the 60s have ageing wonderfully, with “bad” clones, and white grapes in the mix, while many more recent examples have been ageing quite poorly.

As a rule of thumb, the more traditional producers seem to produce wines that age better. Old vines also play a role as the immense clonal selection project in Chianti Classico that concluded at the end of the last century has shown. With climate change clones that were top in 1998 are producing rich and powerful wine, but not wines that necessarily age well.

Some of the sangiovese based super tuscans have proved to be quite ageworthy. My top agers are Il Carbonaione, I Sodi, older Percarlo, and of course Pergole Torte. All these producers make age worthy Chianti Classico wines as well, and in addition I would recommend Castell’in Villa, Monsanto, Querceto, Verrazzano, Riecine, and Caffaggio as among my favorites in the old wine department.

I have a lot of old and older wine from Chianti Classico in the cellar so if you are interested in an exploration through the ages I can put something together for us in the new year.


I just had a 2010 Avignonesi Vino Nobile that was in excellent shape with plenty of life left. It was just starting to show tertiary character. I was a little surprised at how good it was.

I had this bottle last August. Bought by me on release and cellared the whole time. It was quite good (LS 92). It drank much younger than expected. Fwiw, my note is here:

Not long after this wine was released they changed the makeup and started using grapes from outside Chianti and made the wine and IGT. Still a great value.

I had much better experience with e.g. Montevertine and Castell’In Villa than the top Brunello from 1970.- 1990 drunk at age 50-30

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I don’t collect much Sangiovese, but I have a few relevant experiences.

Vinous did a large 2010 Brunello tasting back in October that I attended. The wines were solid, but there were a number that seemed ready to drink and a handful past peak, and these were a selection of the top wines from probably the best recent Brunello vintage. I would say the only wine in the tasting I would want to own in quantity for long-term aging was the Biondi Santi Riserva, which was stunning, very expressive but youthful with good depth of fruit and no signs of oxidation or secondary development yet. Some other wines were delicious like the Stella Riserva or the Cerbaiona 2010, but seem to be at their best right now, or maybe the Cerbaiona was better in the past would be my guess.

I attended a Biondi Santi dinner back in 2019, and the wines back to the late '60s were really good, although many of them were library releases. Frankly, none of the wines were mindblowing, a bit austere which I believe was the Biondi Santi style, but they definitely aged well. My take from those two experiences is that Biondi Santi is the one producer you can take to the bank, and the 2010 is a top notch wine.

I’ve had good experience with some of the better Chiantis or non-Brunello wines from Tuscany, specifically the Felsina Rancia and Fontodi Sorbo / Flaccianello. The Montevertine wines also seem clearly well suited for aging. Felsina Rancia '95 and '99 have been very good wines over the past year or so, and a 1990 Fontodi Sorbo remained powerful and concentrated when tasted back in 2020.

Basically, my limited experience is that Chianti and some other wines from Tuscany are more worthy of age than Brunello, with the exception of at least Biondi Santi.


At one time I had a bunch of different 1997 Chianti. I lived in Italy during it’s release. I had perhaps 2 dozen labels, many were fantastic. The one that I’d say was still on the upswing is Castello di Brolio Riserva. Most of the others were at best maybe 5-10 years ago.

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Are you saying the older, supposedly inferior clones are showing better now with warmer vintages?

From a bottle we had in Italy, was drinking beautifully. Made me a believer in aging some of these CCs.

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