During my recent visit to Tuscany there were a few properties that I was unable to coordinate a visit with. Among these, I was most disappointed to have missed the chance to visit Montevertine.
If any producer can be credited with igniting a renaissance in Tuscan wine, and I am speaking literally, Montervertine can claim that role. The wines that come from these vineyards, near Radda in Chianti, embody the natural and graceful beauty that is Sangiovese, in purezza, or deftly blended with the indigenous Canaiolo and Colorino grapes.
What to expect: MontevertineThe commitment to tradition at Montevertine is evident not only in their choice of blending grapes, forgoing the more popular Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that are beefing up wines throughout Tuscany, but also in virtually every step of the wine making processes. Each facet of the operation here is undertaken with a simple goal: to allow the fruit to express itself unfettered, and unencumbered, by winemaking techniques.
This relatively small property, with vineyards covering some 30 plus acres, has remained true to the intentions of Founder Sergio Manetti, who sadly passed away in 2000. The original vineyard, 5 acres known as Le Pergole Torte, was planted entirely to Sangiovese by Sergio in 1968. To this day those same vines provide the fruit for Montevertine’s Flagship, the eponymous Le Pergole Torte.
The other reds in the Montvertine portfolio vary little from the recipe for Pergole Torte, with each coming from a specific vineyard. One thing you might notice is that none of these wines bear the name Chianti, though they each could. Why you may ask?
The answer is simple. In Sergio Manetti’s day Chianti was required to use a recipe that made less of a wine than Montevertine was capable of. Sergio decided at the outset to make the best wines he possible could, which meant deviating from the DOC requirements for Chianti and forgoing the prized moniker.
Well, lo and behold, Chianti finally caught up with Montevertine, and while each of these wines can now be labeled as Chianti, the Manetti family has established as an exemplar of their type. Each stands on it’s own, proudly displaying it’s origins in more specific terms that Chianti ever could.
Il Sodaccio for example, was (the original vineyard planted in 1972 was replanted in 2000 and we have yet to see any wines from these young vines) the most typical Chianti style blend in the line-up, included both Canaiolo and Colorino. Pian del Ciampolo and the Montevertine vineyards each are primarily planted with Sangiovese, though a small percentage, about a tenth, is reserved for Canaiolo and to a lesser extent Colorino
All of the vineyards are cultivated organically and rely apon the most minimally invasive technique to produce healthy vines and complex, balanced fruit year in and year out, just try the 2002s Once the grapes are pressed, this hand off approach extends to the cellar where each wine ferments in concrete vats, without temperature control. Once the wines are racked, and the malolactic fermentation is complete, also in concrete, the wines are transferred to wood to complete their ageing.
The ageing of each wine is carefully monitored and is perhaps the only aspect of the production that might be considered to have followed a trend. The Pergole Torte not only eschews the addition of traditional blending grapes but also spends 6 months in barriques of French oak, but only after spending 18 months in the traditional, large Slavonian oak casks.
Montevertine sees the same ageing regimen but does include a bit of both Colorino and Canaiolo in the blend. The demised, yet soon to return, Il Sodaccio brought us one step closer to tradition, using both blending grapes but being aged only in large Slavonian botte. And bringing up the rear is the Pian del Ciampolo, which is produced in virtually the same way as Il Sodaccio once was.