In 1990 Giovanna Morganti, the daughter of a famed oenologist, embarked on her own project - a 5 hectare parcel she planted in Chianti Classico's southern zone, Castelnuovo Berardenga. 27 years later her wines stand out as some of the most soulful, perfumed, and elegant in all of Tuscany. Her approach differs somewhat dramatically from many of her contemporaries, but one thing is very clear after my visit: Every aspect of her process is with eyes firmly fixed on quality with a detailed focus. This is the best of Sangiovese that you've never tasted.
My love affair with these wines goes back a little ways. Drinking them I was always taken aback by how silken they were without conveying any sense of new oak influence or modernized quick-fix methods. These are natural wines, and learning about the process from the vines to the cellar offered some new surprises.
Growing up in a home where winemaking was in her blood, Giovanna knew there was an alternative approach that she would take when her time finally came. Her first two choices were to plant ancient native varieties to supplement the Sangiovese that would be the overwhelming dominant variety in her Chianti Classico. Planting at a very tight 8,000 vines per hectare (to promote competition of vines and concentration of fruit) she introduced Ciliegiolo, Colorino, Foglia tonda Mammolo, and Prugnolo with the Sangiovese. Most had a history in the region dating back centuries, but aside from Colorino they've nearly vanished from the limestone soils here in Castelnuovo Berardenga's border with Gaiole.
She also felt the wire systems from guyot and cordon vine training restricted the natural inclination of the vine to grow vertical, with this on her mind she introduced gobelet training which allowed the vine and its shoots to freely travel upward - a stake is planted and vine shoots are tied several times during their upward trajectory, a very labor intensive process. Giovanna sees these vines as living in 3D vs. the 2 dimensional plane created by a wire system.
In the cellar the divergence from the norm continues with fermentation taking place in small 500L open top barrels, and an ancient tradition of a wooden pole (pictured below) used for daily punchdowns - an extremely gentle process that was an ah-ha moment for me as I recalled the delicate structure and unique tannin profile of her gorgeous wines. Aging is done in traditional Slavonian botte, with now a move toward Austrian Stockinger large format because she's found the quality to be on another level.
All the technical information may clearly outline how Giovanna's Chianti Classico is one-of-a-kind, but it doesn't do a fair job of referencing what will end up in your glass. Some wines you just have to try for your self. With 5 hectares and organic and biodynamic principles followed you know the raw material is going to be pristine, but what stands out for me is that each vintage, no matter how challenging, the wines are just perfectly composed. Purity of fruit is always what I look for above all, and Giovanna is making a strong case now as the prime address for the best value Sangiovese in all of Tuscany.
2014 Podere Le Boncie "Le Trame" Toscana Rosso
$48 per bottle.
2013 Podere Le Boncie "Le Trame" Toscana Rosso 1.5L
$98 per bottle.