The Colli Senesi is in theory one of the very best areas for making larger-scaled, bold Chianti, and it should be so, in view of this territory's proximity to Montalcino (basically on its doorstep) and its rich, volcanic tufa soil. Instead, this area has always failed to live up to its considerable potential, as many of the producers here have preferred to concentrate on the white wine Vernaccia di San Gimignano or blends of sangiovese and international varieties that offer little interest or sense of place. Fontaleoni is one of the elite producers in this zone, devoting much time and energy to selections massales of vernaccia, and making very good reds, such as these from this part of Chianti.

2006 Fontaleoni Chianti Colli Senesi

($12; essentially sangiovese with 2% or 3% canaiolo nero) Pretty ruby-tinged red cherry color. Lovely fruit-driven aromas of crunchy red cherry and redcurrant, with the oak component noticeably absent. More fresh red fruits on the palate, nicely framed by silky tannins and bright finishing acidity. Not especially complex but a very enjoyable glass of wine.


2005 Fontaleoni Chianti Colli Senesi Sciroc

($24) Medium-dark ruby. Pretty plum and red cherry aromas are complicated by mint and a hint of blackberry syrup. Bright and fresh in the mouth, offering a more luscious palate feel than the entry-level Chianti, with greater concentration to the cherry and plum fruit. Slightly dusty tannins for the amount of fruit present give this a mildly astringent finish, but it remains a very pleasant mouthful of wine. Note that this is essentially the estate's Riserva, though it doesn't say so on the label. (Marc de Grazia; importers include Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY; Vin Divino, Chicago, IL; and Estate Wines Ltd., San Rafael, CA)

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