Tasting the wines of Montevertine

Notes from a vertical tasting: 1978-2007


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: Montevertine

The 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.

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  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 226,016

    Well Daniel it's primarily because I've been drinking the wines for 2 decades and have watched the Tuscan wine industry, first swing violently away from traditional wines, and then back, rediscovering their innate beauty.

    I look forward to hearing all about your expertise on the subject, and how you can offer help.

    Jan 13, 2010 at 7:33 PM

  • Snooth User: robb1
    Hand of Snooth
    315055 57

    Good tasting notes. Although I have not heard about these wines, let alone tasted them, your notes took me there and I could almost taste them as I read. I will try to see if any of the wines are avilable in Oz so I can see if I agree with you.
    Kind regards from Western Australia.

    Jan 13, 2010 at 8:45 PM

  • You know...I am a great fan of Snooth and Italian wines. I have visited Tuscany in and around many of area mentioned. Many of the good to great Italian wines I have tasted in Italy(Tuscany, Piedmonte, Biscalicata, et al) were less than $10.ur....more like less than $5.ur. I also have returned to America with Brunellos. Like many wine lovers my range is wide and great. However, why do we get such a poor representation of Italian "table wine" exported to the United States. I am a disilusioned Italian wine supported and we need ask the Italian Trade Commission to export some simply pure, clean,clear,garnet,minimally-mildly oaked, great Italian "table wine".

    Jan 13, 2010 at 9:50 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 8,466

    Well, Daniel, don't know what your problem is that you so publicly want to display, but I know some of Greg's bonafides and trust a wide range of his value judgments and consider him qualified to make them.

    I also know, though I just discovered this recently, that Montevertine produces superb, transparent sangiovese wines and I'm happy to have any chance to partake of them. An epiphany I had with a 2003 Le Pergole Torte recently was discussed in a wine thread in the Snooth forum that talks to some extent about the environment within which Montevertine operates. Here are links to it and a similar thread on other reds in Tuscany:

    Jan 14, 2010 at 12:35 AM

  • Snooth User: Philip James
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    1 12,550

    Sorry but Daniel's comment and the language he used doesnt belong here. We encourage debate, but I don't believe my team needs to suffer abuse or foul language. I've deleted it and closed his account. Our responses will look a little strange with no original comment to respond to, however.

    DM - thanks for sticking up for Greg.

    Jan 14, 2010 at 2:12 AM

  • Snooth User: robb1
    Hand of Snooth
    315055 57

    Well done you, Daniel was out of line, however his outburst did bring some comment and discussion so we do need a bit of 'Daniel' type contaversey evry no and then.

    Jan 20, 2010 at 9:56 PM

  • Snooth User: Philip James
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    1 12,550

    Thanks Rob - we do get a fair amount of controversy here and there, and in fact, I positively encourage it. There was a post not too long ago comparing Pinot Noir from around the US, and we received 30 comments from Washington fans claiming we'd not paid their region enough attention...

    Jan 20, 2010 at 10:02 PM

  • Thanks, I strongly recommend the Sangiovese Limited Release from Carta Vieja Wines - Chile

    Jan 21, 2010 at 11:12 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 226,016

    I'll keep an eye out for it Fernando.

    I do love my Italian varietals from California, well at least the high acid a few of them, Sangiovese and Barbera in particular!

    Jan 21, 2010 at 4:57 PM

  • Snooth User: billtank
    534384 17

    I've been to Tuscany and enjoyed the wines there especially the Brunello. We are going to Perugia in Sept. Any thoughts on wines or wineries in that area/appellation?

    Aug 02, 2010 at 5:18 PM

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