Tasting the Wines of Rocca delle Macie, 2019 Releases
Rocca delle Macie is an iconic winery in the Chianti Classico region, established in 1973 by Italo Zingarelli, who had an unexpected route into the wine world. Zingarelli got his start in the movies and rose to prominence as a stuntman in spaghetti westerns before becoming successful enough to try his hand at producing. Zingarelli produced some 30 films in his career, including 1970’s They Call Me Trinity, which was one of the most popular films in Europe at the time.
Zingarelli made a small fortune, bought a winery, and grew it into a successful operation, eventually handing over control to his son Sergio. Sergio recently visited the U.S. and hosted a group of San Francisco wine media to a lunch and tasting, over which he told stories about his family and his own adventures in the wine trade. Sergio’s wine cred is notable: He was president of the Chianti Classico trade group during the time the “black rooster” logo was developed and is also responsible for the 2014 creation of the Gran Selezione designation of Chianti Classico wines — an even higher designation than the Riserva designation allowing for a DOCG labeling instead of an IGT. (Gran Selezione wines have a requirement of 6 months of additional aging beyond that of Riserva and can not include bulk wine.) 2010 was the first vintage which would have been possible for these wines. Today only 6 percent of Chianti Classico wines are labeled as Gran Selezione.
Our tasting included a selection of current releases and an archive of Rocca delle Macie’s wines dating back to 1995.
As always, thoughts follow.
2018 Rocca delle Macie Vermentino Maremma Toscana DOC Campo Maccione – This 100% vermentino is soft and pleasant, lightly grassy and floral, with notes of honeydew melon. Moderated acidity leads to a brighter finish. Made from Macie’s third estate in Maremma. B+ / $15
1995 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva di Fizzano – 85% sangiovese, 10% cabernet sauvignon, 5% merlot. Quite minty and herbal, with a mild petrol note and hints of burnt toast. Still surprisingly well structured but losing some fruit, with a mild balsamic note and a gently earthy kick. Fragrant and engaging. A- / $NA
1999 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva di Fizzano – 85% sangiovese, 10% cabernet sauvignon, 5% merlot. Considerably more depth here, with a distinct green and earthy edge to it. Bolder on the nose but quieter on the palate, the fruit doesn’t really hold up against its aggressive body, which showcases terroir foremost. Opens up considerably with time in glass. B+ / $NA
2005 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva di Fizzano – 85% sangiovese, 10% cabernet sauvignon, 5% merlot. Drinking at its peak, this was my favorite wine of the tasting, a spicy, boldly cherry-laden wine that is iconic Chianti Classico. Rich notes of dried berries and some rhubarb, violets, and a note of licorice on the finish. Lovely and rounded and hard to put down. A / $NA
2011 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Riserva di Fizzano – 95% sangiovese, 5% merlot. 2010 marked a stylistic shift for Rocca della Macie with a new winemaker coming onboard and more focus on the sangiovese grape. This was Rocca delle Macie’s first Gran Selezione release, and it’s a wildly different wine than the above bottles. A clear barnyard note starts off the nose. The palate is chewy and dense, with a fresh cherry character and notes of earth and licorice. A bit of balsamic is evident but it’s also a bit thin on the finish. B+ / $40
2013 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Riserva di Fizzano – 95% sangiovese, 5% merlot. A big truffle note starts things off, then a bold cherry character kicks in on the palate. Chocolate notes give this a more modern feel, but it’s never short of fresh and engaging. A / $40
2015 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Riserva di Fizzano – 93% sangiovese, 7% colorino. Rocca delle Macie began moving away from merlot and toward colorino a few years ago. The result is a somewhat tighter, drier wine, with ample tannin evident. There’s fruit here but it’s drinking young. Some dark chocolate informs the finish. B+ / $40
2017 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico DOCG – 95% sangiovese, 5% merlot. Dropping down to Rocca’s standard bottling, this easygoing wine has a good slug of earth and mushroom in the mix, though it’s all a bit green. Lots of cherry balances things out, making for a simple but enjoyable experience. B+ / $17
2016 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG – 90% sangiovese, 5% colorino, 5% cabernet sauvignon. Soft and lightly chewy, again showing bold cherry and some chocolate notes. Mildly tannic but overall fairly simple and approachable. A- / $27
2013 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Sergio Zingarelli – 90% sangiovese, 10% colorino. The top of Rocca’s line, this is an intense and austere wine with an edge of licorice and some pepper to it. Silky and weighty, it’s got a wonderful structure to it. A- / $100
2013 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Sergio Zingarelli – 100% sangiovese. A much different vintage in the region, this is a slightly softer wine, almost creamy at times. Fresh berry notes lead the way into a finish that is loaded to the gills with chocolate sauce. A decadent delight. A / $100