2019 Il Molino di Grace “Il Margone” Gran Selezione, Chianti Classico

For many years, I have been touting the rebirth of Chianti, a movement that began in the vineyards of Chianti Classico. Today’s Chianti is a direct benefactor of the results of a very special project.

Chianti Classico 2000 was a project that was developed by the Chianti Classico Consorzio starting as early as 1987. The primary mission of the Chianti Classico 2000 project was to modernize viticulture in the region and improve the quality of future wines. The project was approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and was endorsed and financed by the E.U. The project was a massive undertaking, involving agricultural schools in Florence, as well as the University of Pisa and several wineries. The project took 16 years to complete and involved the planting of 16 experimental vineyards. Approximately 25 hectares (62 acres) were planted, and 5 “research” cellars were created to vinify the harvested grapes. Weather stations were set up to ensure the collection of climatological data for both micro- and macro-climates.1

The primary objectives of the project were to: identify the best clones for cultivation; identify the best methods of cultivation; modernize viticulture and wine production; and provide Chianti Classico producers with these new methods and materials for their wines. Six studies were born out of these objectives, looking at grape varieties, rootstocks, vineyard density, trellising, soil management, and clonal selection. The resulting work forever altered the grape growing and wine making processes in Chianti Classico and subsequently in the surrounding vineyards of Chianti.2

Fast forward to 2023 and we are literally tasting the impact of Chianti Classico 2000. Some of the important changes that arose from CC2000 are the use of 8 new clonal varietals that were scientifically developed to improve quality versus quantity. The establishment of severely reduced planting density, and as a result, legally reduced grape yields to promote again, quantity over quality. The implementation and use of new technologies, as well as a focus on organic viticulture have all led to a quality renaissance in Chianti Classico. Somewhat fitting given that Florence is typically viewed as the city where the actual Renaissance of the Fifteenth Century began.

Il Molino di Grace (https://www.ilmolinodigrace.it/About.html) is a relatively young winery, having been started by Frank Grace in the 1990’s. The winery is located in Pazzano, in the heart of Chianti Classico. The winery, which was built in 1997, takes its name from an old windmill located directly across from the cantina. The vineyards historically have been producing grapes for over 350 years. According to their website, Il Molino di Grace became a certified organic winery in 2010, and they proudly declare their sustainable practices as a reason for the greatness of their wines.

The term Gran Selezione has legal meaning in Chianti Classico. This new category was approved by the European Commission in early February 2014 and was voted to take effect immediately. The category sits above Riserva, which had previously been the highest legal quality designation for Chianti Classico wines. In a nutshell, the specific requirements for designations in Chianti Classico are thus:


The Consorzio estimates that about 8 or 9 percent of Chianti Classico DOCG production will qualify for the Gran Selezione level. Approximately 80 percent of Chianti Classico is exported, with the United States by far the largest market at around 30 percent.

The Gran Selezione “Il Margone” is made from select grapes picked from dedicated Riserva vineyards with an average age of 20 to 30 years. The vineyard’s elevation, at up to 1,200 feet above sea level, allows the grapes extra time on the vine, resulting in greater concentration of fruit and physiological ripeness. The finished wine ages for sixteen months in French barriques and tonneaux and another 36 months in the bottle.

The Il Margone is a powerhouse, with incredible depth of flavor and complexity that will take years to evolve.

My tasting note:

Dense, fruity nose with black cherry, black berry, anise and dried herb hints. Full-bodied with firm acidity and aggressive tannins. Well-balanced, youthful, and intense. A very broad palate, dark fruit core with herbaceous notes. Earthy. Tight finish, dried cherries, licorice, and tobacco leaf on the aftertaste. Will improve with 5-7 years of age.


1 & 2 Chianti Classico 2000 Project by Tim Gaiser | Feb 16, 2012 | Blog |

3 Italian Wine Central