By all accounts, this estate in Barberino Val d'Elsa has one of the greatest terroirs in all of Chianti, with compact sandy soils (and a little clay) located at high altitude (450 metres), and old vines whose roots dig down seven or eight meters. The latter fact helps explain the stellar quality of their '03s, from a drought year. That they're doing plenty right here is also exemplified by the superb quality of their canaiolo nero, a difficult Italian native that almost everyone else has given up on, and that had traditionally been the softer blending partner of sangiovese in Chianti. I should also add that the results obtained by Paneretta with canaiolo nero give the exact measure of just how misguided and short-sighted efforts were to turn Chianti into merlot- and cabernet-dominated wines, a view rampant even in the Italian press only a few years ago.
Also recommended: Vin Santo del Chianti Classico (86). (Summa Vitis, Sonoma, CA)

2004 Castello della Paneretta Chianti Classico

($28) Medium ruby. Pretty lily and violet aromas, with bracing notes of sour cherry and redcurrant. The lovely red fruit element continues on the palate, where good acid backbone ensures verve and length on the fine-grained finish. A well above average entry-level Chianti.


2003 Castello della Paneretta Chianti Classico Riserva Vigneto Torre a Destra

($48) Medium-deep ruby. Wonderfully pure pomegranate and red cherry aromas complemented by delicate flint and tobacco nuances. Luscious red cherry, plum, grilled meat and a hint of sweet underbrush are framed by unbelievably suave tannins. Extremely long and fine, this is one of the stars of this difficult vintage.


2003 Castello della Paneretta Terrine Toscana Rosso

($59; a 50/50 blend of sangiovese and canaiolo nero) Deep ruby. Deep re d and black cherry aromas are nicely accented by sweet spices, plum and a hint of fine leather. Absolutely captivating in its mix of opulence and freshness, with deep red berry and spicecake flavors, this offers a riper middle palate than the Riserva and more texture. Finishes long and pure, with silky tannins.

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