Showing posts with label Chianti Classico. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chianti Classico. Show all posts

Friday, May 17, 2024

Looking for Chianti Classico? Look no further. This Ormanni Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2019 is elegant, powerful and beautifully balanced.

Ormanni Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2019, 14.5% ABV 

€25.00 Bubble Brothers 

If you're looking for Chianti Classico, look no further. Elegant, powerful and beautifully balanced.

This organic Ormanni has a light bright red ruby colour. The fragrance is intense, cherry leading the way. Beautiful red fruits on

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Rodano's Chianti Classico reflects a sense of place and tradition

Rodano Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2019, 14.50% ABV

RRP: €23.80. Stockists: Le Caveau, 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork

“Reflects a sense of place and tradition”

Our gorgeous Chinati Classico has a bright ruby colour with a garnet rim. Aromas are soft but fairly intense with cherries, forest fruit and an earthy hint. The savoury fruit is well balanced by the striking acidity and the long finish is enhanced by lingering red fruit flavours plus a hint of smoke.

Importers Le Caveau are happy with it: “..great to taste a

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Delightful. Insightful. Masterclass by Giovanni Manetti at Fontodi in Chianti Classico.

Masterclass by Giovanni Manetti at Fontodi in Chianti Classico. Delightful. Insightful. 

“A joy. A piece of my heart”.

Giovanni Manetti, who runs the family vineyard Fontodi (1968) in the heart of Chianti Classico, was answering the final question in Tuesday’s Liberty Wines online Masterclass. And, at this point, he wasn’t talking about his fabulous wines!

Someone, who had obviously visited the winery, had asked about the cows and Giovanni was delighted to talk about them: “Everyday it is my first stop… we had a new calf yesterday.”

How did a herd of cows end up at the bottom of one of the most famous vineyards in Chianti? “It was part of our tradition in the area. But, in the 70s, they disappeared, very quickly. But they remained in my mind and I brought them back in 2000.” He started with four and now has 65 “and growing!”.
Chianti Classico "hierarchy"

Fontodi is an organic vineyard and the cows were welcome. “We feed them with our hay and barley and they give fertility to the soil. The beautiful meat goes to the village butcher and to my large family. The cows give mountains of manure and we mix it with waste from the vineyard and winery to make compost, amazing compost.”

“They improve our land fertility and the biodiversity, millions of micro-organisms, all good for the complexity and flavours of our wines. Bio-diversity doesn’t leave room for enemies. All part of the bio-dynamics, playing a part in the system.”

Fontodi's Super Tuscan
Just before, he had answered a query on climate change in the area.
“Temperatures are getting higher every year. It rains less often but it is much heavier, dangerously so. Now everybody is growing grass between the rows as it can help avoid erosion and retain the water to help the wines. We also manage the canopy but different from the past when leaves were stripped off. Now we keep leaves to counter the extra heat. We are at work on climate change with two universities (Pisa and Florence) in the area.”

He was also asked about ageing in amphorae as against wood. The mention of amphorae was perhaps a surprise but not so much when you know that the family have been here since the 17th century when they set up a terracotta factory. Later, they made amphorae for wine and olives.

“It was in my background so we we started again producing the vessels in the factory. I’m very protective of it, just a few bottles in the cellar (not for sale) to taste and try all the time. Now using it for many different wines, Sauvignon Blanc and Trebbiano, and I like it very much, gives extra freshness. We have 50 and working on it.” And he told us there is a great demand for them from all over the world.

Chianti set up an association in 1924, the oldest in Italy. But during the Mussolini years the larger area was created, “a big mistake”, and the confusion between the Chianti Classico and Chianti in general continues. “They’re two different areas,” Giovanni emphasised, different soil, micro-climate, and so. “I'm always trying to clear this up. Only Classico bottles are allowed the Black Rooster on the neck.”

There is a commitment to quality among the 515 estates who produce about 36,000,000 bottles per annum. Of these, 354 are bottlers and that number “is growing every year, very encouraging. Producers are trying their best to improve quality and low yields are one sign. It is a good unique wine with a sense of place, an identity that cannot be replicated.”

There is also a commitment to sustainability and already some 40% are organic or biodynamic and that percentage is growing every year. “If you respect Mother Nature, less interference is needed, I’m very excited about this!” 

He is also proud that the main red grape here is Sangiovese, that it has seen off the challenge of the international grapes. “By rule, Chianti Classico must contain 80% Sangiovese but the trend is towards increasing that percentage, a very positive trend as it gives more sense of place. It is a very delicate grape but suits the terroir and it expresses it well.”

“Sangiovese has always been the biggest player but other indigenous grapes could be a good companion, better than the international varieties.”

He indicated that the others indigenous grapes (see chart) might “add extra freshness, a bit of complexity”. “It is necessary to do research into them as well as new clones of Sangiovese to face the problem of global warming. We are at work to face this problem.”

Always problems to be worked on it seems. So why not take time out to see how the cows are doing of a morning, “My beloved cows, at the bottom of the vineyard.”

* Giovanni Manetti has run the Fontodi property since 1980. The estate’s 90 hectares of vineyard are situated in the prime 'conca d'oro' (golden shell) of Panzano, a south-facing natural amphitheatre which allows the grapes to ripen fully. The altitude ensures cool nights, which in turn results in the retention of good acidity and lovely aromatics.  

Friday, April 24, 2020

Screw Cap and Cork. A masterclass from Tuscany by wine-maker Paolo De Marchi

Screw Cap and Cork. A masterclass from Tuscany by wine-maker Paolo De Marchi

Paolo De Marchi
Tuscan wine-maker Paolo De Marchi saw “the other side of the moon” in the early years of this century. He told us how that came about during yesterday's online masterclass.

Paolo, the owner of the superbly tended Isole e Olena vineyards in Tuscany, has a tendency to see what’s hidden - once he dug holes “everywhere” with a back-hoe to see what the roots of his vines were doing down there. So it was no surprise that when Liberty’s David Gleave MW asked him to start using screw cap on some of his wines that Paolo went into the subject in deep detail.

His initial answer though was negative. “I said not ever!”  But, he decided to try. “The DOCG though does not allow screw cap, it was not easy decision. I have to go deeper, to the moon, to imagine the other side. There may be other answers, so I try.”

It worked out well though. From 2005, the Liberty allocation of Cepparello, with screw cap but without the DOCG of course, went off to the UK and then, not over surprisingly, Australia wanted 100% screw cap. And New Zealand followed.

Clare Valley’s Tim Adams attended a 2010 event in Cork’s Blackrock Castle and his bottles that night were all screw cap. Tim and his neighbouring winemakers went for this method of closure in the late 1990s and are very happy with it. “But we are still learning...the process of evaluation is long term... could go on for 20 years”. They are well into that now!

As indeed is Paolo. And Paolo is better placed to speak on the merits of screw cap versus cork as he also bottles the Cepparello under cork for Italy, for Italian restaurants abroad, for long established importers in the UK and also for the USA. “Screw cap is more popular on white wines… every year increasing.”

“Twelve vintages now we have screw cap. Very hard to choose.” But he did indicate that the best wine you’ll ever drink will be from cork, indicated also that screw cap wines are excellent and more consistently so.

“Cork is always a mystery. Screw cap is less of a mystery - just check for physical damage to the closure, maybe a little shock on the cap. But I still prefer the wine from the cork,” and then he smiles, “from a good cork”.

As they age, he maintains both will be beautiful if different. “But that’s a minor problem. When you have a beautiful wine, enjoy it.”

David Gleave agreed. “You’re right, either way there’s diversity (diversity even within cork). Besides, corks are getting better but my personal preference is for screw cap. The tannins evolve a little more slowly. It is more consistent and Cepparello is well suited” Paolo, by the way, also does a superb Chardonnay under screw cap.

The Portuguese cork makers did up their act after the turn of the century shock from down under.  Back in 2013 in L’Atitude 51, Philip Grant of Chateau Bellevue la Foret, Fronton AOC, said he had noted a major improvement in the traditional closure since 2001 “when the Portuguese cork industry reacted to the enormous pressure they was coming under from the emergence of the screw cap as the favourite closure of Australia and other wine producing countries”.

Philip insisted that consistency is guaranteed under screw cap. He had very little to say in favour of the synthetic cork, beyond indicating that it may be useful for wines that are intended for a very limited shelf life and he meant months!

Paolo of course had an opinion. ”I don’t like DIAM - a wannabe cork!” The synthetic Noma though is “more interesting” and he might take a look at that.

Just to finish with a note or two on the Cepparello (first released in 1980). This is a Chianti Classico - it will be on the label if you buy the cork version, won’t be there if you buy screw cap. The grapes are grown on the estate which is right in the heart of Chianti Classico between Florence and Siena. It is a blend of Sangiovese 80%, Canaiolo 15% and Syrah 5%.

Why Syrah? That was a popular question during the Question and Answer session that followed Paolo’s talk. No hesitation from Paolo. “Syrah, because it ripens well, adds colour and spice, and blends very well with Sangiovese.”

Lots of other questions too for Paolo before he could take a break but I didn’t get the tail-end as my connection began to act up. Looking forward to the next masterclass from Liberty Wines and their team!

All pictures above are screenshots from the masterclass.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Three wines to enjoy from Tuscany

Three wines to enjoy from Tuscany
Terrabianca Chianti Classico Riserva Croce (DOCG) Riserva 2012, 13.5%, €25.75 Karwig Wines 

Colour is a beautiful ruby red. Aromas of ripe cherry. Superb fruit on the palate, sweet juicy cherry, touch of pepper, terrific structure, good acidity and satisfyingly long fruit-driven finish. Very Highly Recommended.

This is 97% Sangiovese with 3% Canaiolo. The grapes are selected at the winery before being approved for separate vinification in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Ageing: Aged in Slavonian oak (50 hectolitre), then about 3 months in French oak barrique (2nd use) and in bottle for at least 12 months. 

Serving Suggestions: Best served at 16-18 °C (60.8-64.4 °F). Pairs well with pasta dishes.

Selvapiana Chianti Rufina (DOCG) 2015, 13.5%, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Cork, Wine OnLine, Liberty Wines 

Rufina is a highly regarded sub-zone in Chianti and its best wines are a match, some more than a match, for those from Chianti Classico. This producer is one of the best and produces the wine from the area’s famous Sangiovese grape (with a touch of Canaiolo). It is aged for 12 months, some in steel but most in oak casks and barriques.

It is a startlingly light red. Cherry and berry on the nose. Fresh and juicy on the palate, quite a backbone of flavour, smooth though and easy drinking but also generously blessed with finesse. Elegant and precise and with a long finish, this Chianti Rufina is Very Highly Recommended, especially if you like the lighter styles.

Camillo Ciliegiolo Maremma Toscana (DOC)  2015, 13.5%, €18.85 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This is made from organically grown, forty year old Ciliegiolo vines. Ciliegiolo? I hear you ask. I asked too and confirmed it is little known with an uncertain genealogy, being either the parent or offspring of Sangiovese. 

Antonio Camillo is noted as a top grower in Maremma (an area of southern Tuscany that has been producing wines since the Etruscans) by none other than Oz Clark in Grapes and Wines.

The book, co-written with Margaret Rand, says Ciliegiolo (little cherry) “is sometimes bottled as a varietal, and it can be found as far south as Sicily and as far north as Val d’Aosta.”

The Camillo version is a bright mid-ruby in colour, the aromas a mix of cherry and berry. Refreshing ripe cherry fruit, some spice also, good acidity and persistent fine-grain tannins all in the dry finish. Good structure, very drinkable and Highly Recommended. Try, they say, with hearty dishes (stews) and hard cheeses.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Three Cracking Reds. Bergerac, Chianti and Hawkes Bay.

Terroir Feely Grâce Vin de France NV, 13.5%, €24.90 Mary Pawle Wines

You might have those eye-catching Purple Violetta potatoes currently being grown and marketed by Ballymakenny; that is more or less the colour of this excellent wine. Aromas are of freshly picked ripe plums and dark berries, leaves attached.

And the palate is of fresh fruit and acidity (all the better for food pairing). An amazingly pure wine, tannins a fine, very fine, influence. Balance is super, the fruit and astringency equally in evidence deep into the satisfying finalé. Very Highly Recommended.

This “rich and elegant” dry red wine, highly marked by Jancis Robinson, is produced by Caro and Sean feely in their Saussignac vineyard in the Bergerac area. The blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. Unusually, it is non vintage (NV). Just 2,650 bottles were produced. No sulphites were added and the winery is certified organic and biodynamic. This “grace of nature” is the delicious result.

By the way, the Feelys recommended pairing it with Lamb (with Rosemary), duck breast, and Comté. Heard it went well also with venison at a recent dinner in Ballymaloe!

Ama Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2015, 12.5%, €28.50 Karwig Wines

Husband and wife team Marco Pallanti and Lorenza Sebasti produce this wine at their Castello Di Ama vineyard which is close to Sienna. Sangiovese is the dominant grape in the blend which also includes four per cent Merlot.

It is a light and bright ruby red and you’ll find expressive red fruit (cherry, raspberry) in the aromas. It is light and juicy, notes of spice, tart red fruit prominent, mid to full bodied, mid to high acidity contributes to the balance, silky tannins also in play and then a moderately long finish.

If I had to just one wine for the summer ahead, this would be it, more than one bottle of course. Approachable, carefree and attractive, it is Very Highly Recommended

Unison Hawkes Bay (New Zealand) 2005, 13.5%, a gift from a friend.

Unison describe themselves as “a truly boutique winery consistently producing world class wines”. No pressure then on this winery from the Gimblett Gravels wine growing district that produces finely balanced wines “of great elegance with a soft tannin structure”.

This Unison 2005 is their signature wine, the usual  blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It is the 9th release with the usual good results. 

Colour is mid ruby and the complex aromas feature ripe red and darker fruit. It is smooth and rounded, a superbly balanced blend, fine tannins and velvety all the way. Nothing jars in this harmonious mouthful, a fine wine all the way from first sniff to the long finish. This red blend from New Zealand is not to be rushed and Very Highly Recommended.

If you can get your hands on it - my Wine-Searcher drew a blank - please let me know where!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

In the heart of Chianti

In the heart of Chianti

If Tuscany is the centre of the Italian Wine Universe (as declared by Vino Italiano) then Chianti Classico is its heart. Chianti itself is a vast area in Tuscany with Pisa and Siena among its best known cities. Chianti Classico DOCG, situated on the hills between Florence and Siena, is tiny by comparison.

Hugh Johnson, writing in The Finest Wines of Tuscany (2009),  says the revolution of Tuscan wines began over 40 years ago and is still on-going. “It is the New World within the Old, questioning, experimenting all the time, with ever-rising standards.”  Looks like there is a lot more to this story.

Sangiovese is central Italy’s most important red grape and the main grape in Chianti where Grapes and Wines note Terrabianca as one of the top producers. It is also the base of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino and Morellino di Scansano.

Terrabianca Scassino Chianti Classico (DOCG), 13.5%, €22.70 Karwig Wines

The estate is ancient (mentioned as far back as 1085) but Roberto and Maja Guldener started here only in 1988. Now, after much hard work, some of their wines, including this one, are well-known in “many countries all over the world”. Not bad going for a couple that left the city (Zurich) to live in the countryside.

The blend is 97% Sangiovese with 3% Canaiolo. It has spent 8 months in Slovenian oak and three months in bottle before release.

It is a vibrant cherry red, clear and bright. The inviting aromas are a mix of fruit (led by raspberry and cherry). It is fresh and supple, with moderate spice, fine tannins, a really pleasant experience on the palate, a well made Chianti, with typical fragrance and fruit, with a firm backbone and a long lasting finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Fattoria di Rodáno Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2011, 14.5%, €20.45 Le Caveau

This blend of 90% Sangiovese and five per cent each of Colorino (with its deep dark colouring) and Canaiolo (also used in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano) is produced by the Pozzesi family on an organically run hill-top vineyard in Tuscany. It is oak-aged in large Slovenian botti di rovere but this is really “little more than a seasoning”.

Colour is a bright cherry red and ripe red and darker fruits are prominent in the aromas. Flavours of plum and cherry are found on the palate of this medium bodied wine, spice too. Tannins though rounded are still a factor and even more so is the typical mouth-watering acidity. The elegant finish persists. This impeccably balanced wine is Highly Recommended.

See also (from my current Italian mini-series):