Best buys | Wine of the week: The Society’s Exhibition Chianti Classico 2012

Best buys

Wine of the week: The Society’s Exhibition Chianti Classico 2012

Sometimes when I go to a Wine Society tasting I find myself wondering why on earth anyone would buy their wine anywhere else.

Their buyers, most of whom have been with them for years, are hugely experienced, their prices - thanks to their status as a co-operative - hugely competitive and their range (of 1500 wines) impressively eclectic. The only downside is that unless you live within spitting distance of their headquarters in Stevenage (and why would you if you can possibly help it?*) you can’t try before you buy, though they hold a number of regional tastings.

One of the things they do particularly well is their own-label Exhibition range which is a selection of top-end wines chosen by and often blended with the help of their buyers.

This Chianti Classico which is made by Poggiopiano is a perfect example - selected by their Italian wine buyer Sebastian Payne who joined the society in 1973 (which means, for the mathematically challenged, he’s worked for them for 42 years.) It’s beautifully balanced - full, rich and smooth but with a nice touch of freshness that offsets its 14% abv.

You could drink it - as many would - with typically Tuscan dishes such as roast lamb with garlic and rosemary but it would also elevate a homely lasagne into a midweek treat

I honestly don’t think you’ll find a chianti of this quality - in the UK at least - at a better price (£11.95 a bottle). Poggipiano’s own Chianti Classico, for example, also stocked by the Society, is £16 and their top end wine £24,

If I’m looking for something to criticise - which I desperately am so that this post doesn’t sound too gushing - the Wine Soc's labels are a bit dull. But I suspect that their members like them like that.

* in case you think I’m being Stevenage-ist I used to live fairly nearby in St Albans. Let’s just say Hertfordshire isn’t the most exciting county in the UK . . .

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