One of the defining elements of The Sommelier Collective is that it is entirely focused on what you – our members – want and need. And our Awards Tastings are no different.
Wines are rated and scored – for those of you who like numbers and ranking systems; and our judges select their own favourite wines from the tasting – for those of you who prefer peer recommendation.
But the third part of our judging process is choosing our List Champions. These are wines that stood out in the tasting either for getting the highest score overall (Best in Class) or having the best score to price ratio (Best Value).
But we also asked our judges to look for wines that were particularly well-suited to fulfilling certain key roles within the restaurant.
So we also gave out awards for the wines deemed Best for Group Dining; Best for Preservation System and Best for By The Glass. In making these assessments, our judges looked not just for quality but also for style, price and value for money. The winning wine had to be good, good for the role, and good for the money.
They are very practical awards that are designed to make it easier for sommeliers across the UK to home in on finding a specific wine style quickly. They’re a bit different, but we hope that you like them and find them useful – certainly our judges enjoyed having to think about the wines in this way.
Anyway, many congratulations to our winners. We hope that you enjoy trying them, listing them and selling them.
Best in Class
Brancaia Chianti Classico 2019
This award goes to the wine with the best overall score. Since there were two other wines that averaged a score of 96, our judges looked at the one that had consistently high scores from all tasters (rather than, say, three very high scores and two lower ones). Price, too, was a factor. The Brancaia was significantly cheaper than either of the other 96-point wines, making it great value.
Our judges loved this, quite simply, for being a brilliantly classic expression of Chianti. Not big and shouty, but bright, elegant and beautifully put together. Any venue looking for a quality Classico expression should have this on their radar. And the margin options are good at this price.
‘Quite pale, which anticipates the suave, finely perfumed cherry nose. Very elegant and harmonious. Acidity is the leitmotif – vibrant, elegant Chianti.’ Mattia Mazzi
‘Floral, fruity, not too intense, delicate and elegant.’ Franco Fortunati
‘Classic Chianti colour and nose, with a high acidity and velvety texture. Aromas of tomato paste, dried oregano, dried roses, meat and pepper. Classic Chianti flavours.’ Paola Giraldo
Best Value for Money
Rocca di Montegrossi Chianti Classico 2018
On one level, value for money is easy to calculate – it’s the wine with the most number of points for the lowest price. But our judges also felt that we should be going for a wine with at least 90 points. Something, in other words, that our tasters really wanted to list. And at this level, the Rocca di Montegrossi really stood out. Serious quality for the money.
There was a structured linearity to this wine that really appealed to our tasters – like it was walking a tightrope between ‘fruity’ and ‘edgy’ but always perfectly in balance.
‘Pronounced on the nose, with ripe strawberries, cherries and earthy notes with a hint of vanilla and spices. Rich, but not harsh tannins. Complex, with well-defined flavours.’ Paola Giraldo
‘A dry, ‘vertical’ Chianti. A fine balance of nerves and fibre, length and intensity with purity of flavours.’ Mattia Mazzi
‘Black fruit, plums and balsamic notes, this is very clean and balanced. Great to pair with food such as pork and pasta.’ Franco Fortunati
Available from Flint Wines, £13.50
Best for By The Glass
Quercia al Poggio Chianti Classico 2019
The By The Glass criteria are easy to understand: the wine needs to be easy-going enough to drink on its own, but have the chops to work with food if necessary. The nature of Chianti – that it is largely a ‘food’ wine rather than ‘drinking’ wine perhaps explains why our winner here is priced where it is. The cheaper entries, while often pretty good, mostly needed food.
This light to mid-weight Chianti was one of the most drinkable of our tasting – certainly for the price point, all spicy red fruit, flowers and lift.
‘Classic fine Chianti aromas – red plum compote, flowers, a hint of freshly ground black pepper, mocha and slight smokiness.’ Lionel Periner
‘Ripe and juicy on the nose, with red plums and cherries. Very approachable.’ Stefano Barbarino
‘Vanilla, cinnamon and strawberry on the nose; good complexity and a round structure.’ Konstantinos Nestoridis
Currently not imported in the UK. Contact the winery for information. Trade price calculated at £12.46 ex VAT
Best for Group Dining
Villa Cerna Chianti Classico 2016, Cecchi
Group Dining is growing in importance in hospitality (or was, pre-Covid!) so having the right wines is really important. Our tasters wanted a wine that was very typical of its style, but also approachable for everyone and (very important) at the right price – several notches above ‘house’ or ‘entry level’ but not actively expensive.
Like many of the best wines in this tasting, the Villa Cerna managed to balance some classic Chianti savouriness with plenty of fruit ripeness, to leave a wine that was very much of its place, but still accessible.
‘Ripe red fruits. Smoky and toasty – elegant on the palate, with a beautiful stony finish.’ Stefano Barbarino
‘Fresh raspberries with a hint of saltiness. Very fresh and vibrant.’ Paola Giraldo
‘Cassis and pencil lead with hints of balsamic. Seductive tannins.’ Fernando Cubas
Best for Preservation System
Castello di Fonterutoli Gran Selezione 2016
We all know the importance of having a top-notch selection of wines on by the glass pour. It brings something special to your customers, allows for imaginative (and upgraded) tasting menus and can be good news for your cash take. Because these wines are often rare, unusual or expensive, quality and character, rather than price was the key factor here.
Gran Selezione can be a controversial style. Chianti purists don’t always like the oak use, though looking at the scores in our Awards tasting, our judges didn’t have a problem with it. Because the style is polarising, this is a good style to sell in single (expensive) serves, and this offering from Castello di Fonterutoli was reckoned to be the best wine of the tasting for that purpose.
It was different, self-confident and very definitely had its own character. Perfect for your wine preserver.
‘Red and dark berries, cooked blueberries and flowers. A creamy texture, with high tannins. Full-bodied, but the tannins, fruit and acidity are balanced.’ Paola Giraldo
‘Seductive and extrovert. Pretty, forward sweet red fruits. An artwork. I love this take on GS.’ Mattia Mazzi
‘Leather, tobacco and earthy.’ Franco Fortunati
£30.66, Maisons Marques et Domaines
Chianti Classico Awards 2021Full list of award winning wines from The Sommelier Collective Awards.
|96||Brancaia||Chianti Classico 2019||Chianti Classico||Enotria&Coe|
|Quite pale, which anticipates the suave, finely perfumed cherry nose. Very elegant and harmonious. Acidity is the leitmotif - vibrant, elegant Chianti.' Mattia Mazzi. 'Floral, fruity, not too intense, delicate and elegant.' Franco Fortunati. 'Classic Chianti colour and nose, with a high acidity and velvety texture. Aromas of tomato paste, dried oregano, dried roses, meat and pepper. Classic Chianti flavours.' Paola Giraldo.|
|94||Il Palagio di Panzano||Chianti Classico 2016||Chianti Classico||Seeking UK importer|
|Forest floor, cedar wood and plums. A complex nose, but very elegant at the same time. Smooth and well-balanced with a long aftertaste, and very well integrated oak.' Franco Fortunati. 'The most complex, charming and classy of our flight.' Mattia Mazzi. 'Intense and pronounced, with aromas of kirsch, dark cherries, plums and balsamic. Still very young and bright.' Paola Giraldo|
|92||Famiglia Zingarelli||Rocca delle Macie Tenuta Sant'Alfonso Chianti Classico 2019||Chianti Classico||Seeking UK importer|
|Ripe but not cooked fruit, herbal - thyme, oregano, tomato leaf; forest floor, coffee, vanilla - high quality oak. Long, evolving finish with ripe tannins.' Klearhos Kannelakis. 'Dark fruit, hints of cacao and dry flower petals. Dry and spicy with a full-bodied structure. It would match with slow-cooked food.' Lionel Periner. 'Black fruit with hints of black pepper and spices - good concentration on the palate.' Fernando Cubas|
|91||Casaloste||Chianti Classico 2018||Chianti Classico||Laytons|
|Nice expressive red fruit - cherries, strawberries and tomato leaf. New French oak, with lavender, juniper and polished tannins.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Pronounced and complex, fruity, spicy and seductive with black cherries and roses. Very defined fruit, acidity and tannins.' 'Plump fruit, warm, gentle and approachable.' Mattia Mazzi.|
|91||Conti Capponi||Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico 2018||Chianti Classico||Cava Spiliadis|
|A touch of liquorice syrup, blueberries, cinnamon, cloves and cedar. A great expression of age and balance.' Konstantinos Nestoridis. 'Moreish cherries, elegant and intense, the fruit is well-defined. A very well thought-out wine. It's a step up in concentration, colour and aromatic intensity.' Mattia Mazzi. 'Very fresh and smooth with a long length. It would be lovely to pair this with a beef tartare.' Stefano Barbarino.|
|91||Ruffino||Santedame Estate Chianti Classico 2015||Chianti Classico||Bibendum|
|A lot of earthy notes and pungent spices, such as black pepper and tobacco, but fresh on the palate and very well balanced. Would like to pair this with a loin of lamb.' Stefano Barbarino. 'Open and complex. Cherries and dark berries with lightly toasted bread and hints of pot pourri. Nicely aged Chianti.' Lionel Periner. 'Gentle and well-balanced between acidity, tannin and fruit. Silky.' Fernando Cubas|
|91||Rocca di Montegrossi||Chianti Classico 2018||Chianti Classico||Flint Wines|
|Pronounced on the nose, with ripe strawberries, cherries and earthy notes with a hint of vanilla and spices. Rich, but not harsh tannins. Complex, with well-defined flavours.' Paola Giraldo. 'A dry, 'vertical' Chianti. A fine balance of nerves and fibre, length and intensity with purity of flavours.' Mattia Mazzi. 'Black fruit, plums and balsamic notes, this is very clean and balanced. Great to pair with food such as pork and pasta.' Franco Fortunati|
|90||Riecine||Chianti Classico 2019||Chianti Classico||Alliance Wines|
|A very elegant young Classico. Approachable now, but with concentration and complexity. Pure, modern, top tier.' Mattia Mazzi. 'Great aromatic character of black cherries and black tea with violets and raspberries on the palate. Good complexity.' Konstantinos Nestoridis. 'Ripe on the nose, with crunchiness on the palate. Clean, gentle and lively. Youthful, but with lots of potential.' Stefano Barbarino|
|90||Tenuta di Arceno||Chianti Classico 2019||Chianti Classico||Oenofuture/Jackson Family Wines|
|The nose is open, with dark cherries, dark fruit, plum, light spices and a hint of bitter cacao. Harmonious, dry and elegant with great structure.' Lionel Periner. 'Dark fruit and sweet spices - vanilla, cloves and pine.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Ripe red plum fruit on the palate. Concentrated, with grainy tannins.' Fernando Cubas. '|
|89||Fonterutoli||Chianti Classico 2018||Chianti Classico||MMD|
|Dry fresh berries, with a hint of spices and fresh oregano with some saline notes. Very Mediterranean.' Paola Giraldo. 'Cranberries, strawberries and cherries with hints of liquorice. Would pair well with a duck breast.' Stefano Barbarino|
|89||Banfi||Chianti Classico 2017||Chianti Classico||Louis Latour|
|Kirsch, dark cherries and strawberries. In a good way, it's not too complex - good balance, juicy and easy to drink.' Franco Fortunati. 'Violets, wooden box and red fruit. It shows off the region and the grape really well.' Konstantinos Nestoridis|
|89||Mannucci Droandi||Ceppeto Chianti Classico 2018||Chianti Classico||Flint Wines|
|Beautiful nose of black cherries, lavender and pine herbs. Savoury and sweet red fruit palate with silky tannins.' Fernando Cubas. 'Cherries, balsamic and a leather note with violets. Very enjoyable. Would work well by the glass.' Franco Fortunati.|
|89||Lamole di Lamole||Chianti Classico 2018||Chianti Classico||Alivini|
|Red fruit, floral aromas with bitter chocolate and thyme. Textured tannins and good length.' Fernando Cubas. 'Herbal, with a hint of sweet spice and white chocolate. Crunchy fruit on the palate. Easy drinking.' Stefano Barbarino.|
|89||Quercia al Poggio||Chianti Classico 2019||Chianti Classico||Seeking UK importer|
|Classic fine Chianti aromas - red plum compote, flowers, a hint of freshly ground black pepper, mocha and slight smokiness.' Lionel Periner. 'Ripe and juicy on the nose, with red plums and cherries. Very approachable.' Stefano Barbarino.|
|87||Fattorie Melini||Granaio Chianti Classico 2018||Chianti Classico||Bibendum|
|Black plums, rosemary and rose petals on the nose and spicy red cherries on the palate.' Konstantinos Nestoridis. 'Lovely aromas. Dark cherry fruit, with a hint of gentle spice and dry herbs. Full bodied with dry, full tannins.' Lionel Periner|
|87||Tenuta Carobbio||Chianti Classico 2016||Chianti Classico||Seeking UK importer|
|Dark fruit, plums and balsamic. Good to drink by itself or with pasta dishes. Easy drinking.' Franco Fortunati. 'Red fruits, sour cherries and herbs. Dry, high tannins on the palate.' Paola Giraldo.|
|87||Borratella||Chianti Classico 2017||Chianti Classico||Seeking UK importer|
|Fine herbal nose and a cherry palate with silky tannins.' Fernando Cubas. 'Simple wine, though with great vibrant fruit and nice freshness. Friendly.' Lionel Periner.|
|85||Cecchi||Villa Cerna Primocolle Chianti Classico 2017||Chianti Classico||Vinexus|
|Red plums, berries and some floral character. Open and fruity, but quite light.' Lionel Periner. 'Ripe fruit, but also quite herbaceous. Dry tannins show its youth.' Stefano Barbarino.|
|96||Casaloste||Chianti Classico Riserva 2017||Riserva||Laytons|
|Dark berries, red fruit and orange peel, with meaty hints. Dry, but with a velvet texture - the tannins are dry, but well integrated.' Lionel Periner. 'Fruity, but with a herbal, leafy meatiness. Would pair really well with bolognese.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Very complex and seductive, rich and flavourful. Perfect for lamb cutlets and grilled parmigiana.' Paola Giraldo.|
|94||Famiglia Zingarelli||Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Riserva 2018||Riserva||Seeking UK importer|
|Intense, with ripe fruit, herbal tones, a chalky minerality and some earthiness. Long, complex and high quality.' Klearhos Kannelakis. 'Earth, mushrooms, liquorice and a hint of blueberries. Savoury palate, with a hint of pepper and a stony minerality.' Stefano Barbarino. 'Fresh cut herbs, well adapted tannins and good balance.' Fernando Cubas.|
|92||Castellare di Castellina||Chianti Classico Riserva 2018||Riserva||Bibendum|
|Intense cherries, roses and an almost seaweed salad aroma - herbal with a hint of minerality. Complex, and very interesting.' Paola Giraldo. 'Cassis, black pepper and thyme, with hints of blueberry jam. Silky tannins with a balsamic finish.' Fernando Cubas. 'Elegant aromas with smooth texture and velvety tannins.' Lionel Periner.|
|92||Brancaia||Chianti Classico Riserva 2017||Riserva||Enotria&Coe|
|Cedar, prunes, nutmeg, wet stones, liquorice and pepper. It's like a tomato-based Roman sauce! Huge potential.' Paola Giraldo. 'Wild strawberries and rosemary, with well-balanced acidity and tannins.' Fernando Cubas. 'A lot of floral violet notes on the nose, with ripe red and blue fruits and sweet oaky spice. Rich, but really drinkable. Great for pork chop with borlotti beans and a red wine sauce!' Stefano Barbarino.|
|92||Frescobaldi||Tenuta Perano Chianti Classico Riserva 2017||Riserva||Hallgarten&Novum Wines|
|Tobacco, leather, baked fruit, wooden floor and sweet spices. Fruity, smooth and elegant.' Franco Fortunati. 'Cranberries, orange, silky oak - elegant and smooth with a hint of kirsch.' Lionel Periner. 'Sweet and sour on the palate - almost like Amarone.' Stefano Barbarino.|
|92||Il Palagio di Panzano||Chianti Classico Riserva 2016||Riserva||Seeking UK importer|
|Very herbaceous with lots of pungent spices. Intense, with a long, spicy finish.' Stefano Barbarino. 'Kirsch, cherry, violets, leather and sweet spicy notes. Well integrated oak, with a long finish. Would work well in a Coravin.' Franco Fortunati. 'Tangible fruit, but multi-dimensional. Warm and firm. Developing nicely.' Mattia Mazzi.|
|91||Carobbio||Chianti Classico Riserva 2015||Riserva||Seeking UK importer|
|Cherries, orange peel and flowers. Full-bodied palate with coffee and toasted bread, but an elegant finish.' Lionel Periner. 'Blueberries, morello cherries and sweet spices, with hints of tea. Vibrant.' Konstantinos Nestoridis. 'Cinnamon, cloves, coffee, black fruit and violets. Would pair well with pasta dishes or mushroom risotto.' Franco Fortunati.|
|90||Borratella||Chianti Classico Riserva 2017||Riserva||Seeking UK importer|
|Redcurrant and roses with sour cherries and sweet spices. Quite high acidity.' Paola Giraldo. 'Ripe fruit, soya and ink. Earthy tobacco. Long finish.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Herbs, game and red fruit on the palate with very fine tannins.' Fernando Cubas.|
|90||Cecchi||Villa Cerna Chianti Classico 2016||Riserva||Vinexus|
|Ripe red fruits. Smoky and toasty - elegant on the palate, with a beautiful stony finish.' Stefano Barbarino. 'Fresh raspberries with a hint of saltiness. Very fresh and vibrant.' Paola Giraldo. 'Cassis and pencil lead with hints of balsamic. Seductive tannins.' Fernando Cubas.|
|90||Fattorie Melini||Vigneti La Selvanella Chianti Classico Riserva 2015||Riserva||Bibendum|
|Smoky and meaty on the nose. Blackberries and dark plums with a spicy background.' Stefano Barbarino. 'Not pretentious, but well-made and assertive at a great price point.' Konstantinos Nestoridis. 'Dark fruit and cranberries. Finish is elegant, but a bit short.' Lionel Periner.|
|89||Mannucci Droandi||Ceppeto Chianti Classico Riserva 2017||Riserva||Flint Wines|
|Elegant aromas of red fruit and sour cherries. Well defined, with fresh acidity. Would work by the glass.' Paola Giraldo. 'Gentle fruit, textured tannins and fresh herbs.' Fernando Cubas.|
|88||Lamole di Lamole||Chianti Classico Riserva 2017||Riserva||Alivini|
|Orange peel, forests and crunchy red fruit. Dry palate with smooth tannin.' Lionel Periner. 'Well balanced and well integrated.' Fernando Cubas. 'Lean and green.' Mattia Mazzi.|
|88||Tenuta di Arceno||Chianti Classico Riserva 2018||Riserva||Oenofuture/Jackson Family Wines|
|Mushroom, leather, tobacco, but doesn't develop too well on the palate.' Franco Fortunati. 'Cassis and Indian spices. Grippy tannins.' Fernando Cubas.|
|96||Ruffino||Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Riserva 2016 Gran Selezione||Gran Selezione||Bibendum|
|Cassis, strawberry and raspberry jam with pleasant use of oak that's well integrated. Smooth tannins and elegant.' Franco Fortunati. 'Well balanced and complex. Fruit, herbs, earth, cinnamon and smoky oak. Harmonious.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Ripe and fruity, with balsamic and liquorice notes. Saline, savoury and meaty on the palate.' Paola Giraldo.|
|95||Castello di Fonterutoli||Gran Selezione 2016||Gran Selezione||MMD|
|Red and dark berries, cooked blueberries and flowers. A creamy texture, with high tannins. Full-bodied, but the tannins, fruit and acidity are balanced.' Paola Giraldo. 'Seductive and extrovert. Pretty, forward sweet red fruits. An artwork. I love this take on GS.' Mattia Mazzi. 'Leather, tobacco and earthy.' Franco Fortunati.|
|92||Rocca di Montegrossi||Vigneto San Marcellino Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2015||Gran Selezione||Flint Wines|
|Ripe, dense, slightly woody and herbal.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Tangy and dry, with quite intense vigour. Tobacco, gravelly flowers and minerality.' Paola Giraldo. 'This wine is true to its place and coherent to its appellation. Extremely well made.' Mattia Mazzi.|
|91||Quercia al Poggio||Vigna le Cataste Gran Selezione 2016||Gran Selezione||Armit|
|Blueberries and cigar box, with cinnamon, vanilla and firm tannins - would work well in a Coravin.' Konstantinos Nestoridis. 'Baked plums, and black fruit, balsamic notes, cedar wood, cinnamon and cloves.' Franco Fortunati. 'Nice fruit and richness, though the tannins cut in on the finish.' Paola Giraldo.|
|89||Tenuta Di Arceno||Strada al Sasso Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2016||Gran Selezione||Oenofuture/Jackson Family Wines|
|Cassis, blackberries and herbs on the nose, but delivers less on the palate.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Fruit and roses on the nose with a hint of nutmeg and pepper. High acidity on the palate - this is still young.' Paola Giraldo.|
|88||Rocca delle Macie||Riserva di Fizzano Gran Selezione 2018||Gran Selezione||Seeking UK importer|
|Wild, spiced and polished. Definitely made to impress, with cutting-edge winemaking. Attractive and polished.' Mattia Mazzi. 'Still vigorous on the nose, and it needs to soften. But definitely complex, with ripe cherries, minerality and some earthy notes.' Paola Giraldo.|
|88||Lamole di Lamole||Vigneto di Campolungo Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione 2016||Gran Selezione||Alivini|
|Floral and ripe-fruited, though still quite tannic.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Sandalwood and vanilla. Smooth and elegant.' Franco Fortunati. 'Plumper fruit, coarser tannin. Masculine and muscular.' Mattia Mazzi.|