When I walk past the wine shelves at Costco in Kalamazoo, I always notice the rustic yellow label of the Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva. It sells for about $14 at Costco, but I know the price is closer to $20 at most wine stores. I notice it mainly because I know I have (had) one wine with that same label in my cellar. I bought the bottle 40-odd years ago after reading tasting notes of several Monsanto wines (some from much earlier vintages) from the Village Corner (Ann Arbor) sale booklet. I knew the 1977 would age well, but I never buy or drink much Chianti so I never got around to opening it...until tonight, to mark my 81st birthday.
In case you're turned off by the name, Monsanto has nothing at all to do with the chemical company. In fact, Fattoria Monsanto, located on a bluff halfway between Florence and Siena, dates from 998 A.D. It is one of the oldest and best producers of Chianti Classico, and the $14 bottles available from Costco are excellent values, whether you drink them now or 40 years in the future.
The color is brick like but remarkably deep for a wine this old. Classic Sangiovese bouquet, clean and intense. And the flavors are even better. Red cherries, deep and concentrated. Beautiful acidity carries the flavors all the way down the tongue to a long finish. Not at all old tasting. With lemon and garlic marinated lamb chops and roasted potatoes, carrots, onions, peppers and tomatoes, this was a perfect wine to remind me of what aging is all about.