A lot is happening in one of Europe’s oldest wine regions right now. Chianti Classico wants to take a step forward, and producers Monteraponi and Montevertine are not afraid to take the lead. BKWine Magazine’s Åsa Johansson reports.
Monteraponi and Montevertine are two wineries that show how far you can reach quality wise in Chianti Classico. – We do not really want to talk only about us but about the whole village of Radda in Chianti, says Michele Braganti from Monteraponi when we meet at a press lunch at the Four Seasons Hotel in Florence.
Radda in Chianti is one of the villages in Chianti Classico currently pushing the issue of creating an equivalent to France’s Villages or Barolo and Barbaresco´s MGA’s (Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive, sometimes loosely called “cru”) also in the Chianti Classico region. Producers in the villages of Radda in Chianti, Montefioralle and Panzano in Chianti are positive. They are supported by Piero Antinori, who in an interview in the Italian wine magazine Civiltá del Bere says he is in favor of a more specific division of the Chianti Classico region.
– Today consumers follow individual producers. We would like them to follow a particular village, continues Michele Braganti.
Monteraponi and Montevertine are two producers which undoubtedly show how high quality it is possible to reach the Chianti Classico. The two producers are located a stone’s throw from the beautiful medieval village of Radda in Chianti.
Both of them work in a similar way, organic farming, no international grape varieties and terroir driven work in the wine cellar. The wine should reflect the soil and vintage. The work in the field and in the cellar is careful and with a lot of attention to detail.
Similar but different
Martino Manetti at Montevertine took over in 2000 after his father who bought the farm in 1967. The first vintage came in 1971. They have for a long time had an association with the late Giulio Gambelli, oenologist and Italy’s most prominent specialist of sangiovese. Montevertine’s wine Le Pergole Torte, one hundred percent sangiovese, is today a cult wine, both in Italy and internationally.
Monteraponi has a short history but has quickly made it to the top. The estate was bought by Michele Braganti’s father in 1974. For a long time they rented out the vineyards and sold the grapes until Michele decided to take over. The first bottles hit the market in 2003. One can only conclude that it is impressive, in such a short time, to reach the quality Monteraponi has today.
-I’ve always had Montevertine as a role modeled so you can imagine how happy I am to stand here together today, says Michele Braganti.
Introducing the new vintages
The two producers had invited fifteen wine journalists to lunch, at the Four Seasons restaurant in Florence. The following day Chianti Classico anteprima starts, a major event to present new vintages from the region. But Montevertine will not participate since they left the consortium in 1981, when Le Pergole Torte did not get permission to be bottled as Chianti Classico. At that time, you were not allowed to make a 100 percent sangiovese and label it as Chianti Classico. The two producers presented their winestogether and independently instead.
The 2014 and 2015 vintages could not be more different from each other. The 2014 is one of the most difficult years anyone can remember. A mild winter accompanied by rain, rain, and cold.
-In August, the grapes had not yet changed colour. We expected the worst but then a miracle happened and we got sun and dry weather in September, says Michele Braganti.
One had to do twice as many treatments with copper sulphate compared to previous years.
-It is a vintage where the wines truly reflect how you have worked in the vineyard, concludes Michele.
2015 was the opposite. Perfect weather, warm, dry, moderate rainfall and large temperature differences between day and night. A near perfect pollination gave extremely high yields with grapes of excellent quality.
-2015 is a vintage that all winemakers dream about, says Martino Manetti.
Pian del Ciampolo 2015 IGT Montevertine
Montevertines base wine, made with grapes not used for the top wines. It also includes il torchiato, the press wine. The quality of the wine says a lot about how Montevertine works. The bar is at once put high. Dark fruity aromas, sweet cherries, light herbaceous tone, good structure with fine rustic tannins that bite a little and an acidity that requires food.
Monteraponi Chianti Classico 2015
Intense beautiful ruby red colour. Cherry, clean and fruity aromas with hints of orange peel. Elegant tannins and high acidity that makes the wine easy to drink and food friendly, exactly as a good Chianti Classico should be.
Montevertine 2014 IGT
Here the leading word is elegance. Smooth tannins that are completely different from the wine Pian del Ciampolo that also included the press wine. Thus, a completely different type of tannins that is smooth as silk. Cherry, spice, and an acidity that goes up towards the end.
Chianti Classico Riserva Il Campitello, 2014 Monteraponi
This shows that even a difficult year like 2014, you can make good wines. Il Campitello comes from a single vineyard that is over 40 years old, made with sangiovese, colorino and canaiolo. A slimmer wine with medium body, elegant with floral aromas like roses and violets, hints of fennel and herbs. Sangiovese´s cherry character follows through in the background. A favourite!
Baron d’Ugo 2013 Monteraponi
Monteraponi´s top wine is Baron d’Ugo that comes from a south facing vineyard at 1900 feet (570 meters). Produced only in good vintages. It is a wine that shows its qualities only gradually. Complexity. Layer on layer. Tannins that give life, good body, spicy, white pepper, hints of leather, fruit which supports a vibrant acidity. A wine to open for a special occasion.
Le Pergole Torte 2014, IGT, Montevertine
One of Tuscany’s most famous wines with recognizable labels with female portraits. There were many who wondered if Martino Manetti would make a Pergole Torte such a demanding year as 2014.
-I only sell wines that I like and that I would drink myself, says Martino Manetti. One of the reasons that we wanted to organize this lunch was to show that it was possible to make good wines even in 2014, he continues.
Le Pergole Torte 2014 is very aromatic, fruity, roses and floral. Light, elegant tannins. An acidity in the background following the rest as an uplifting spine. Everything is in balance but a shade lighter than le Pergole Torte can be a less difficult year.
During lunch we tasted the same wines but from 2006.
– We chose 2006 because it is such a good vintage and the wines are so nice, says Martino.
One can only agree.
More on Monteraponi: monteraponi.it
More on Montevertine: montevertine.it
Åsa Johansson is BKWine’s person in Italy. She lives in Florence since the early ’00s. Asa writes regularly on wine and food in Swedish and Italian publications as well as online.