When I have the opportunity to prove that Chianti Classico can show grace and pristine fruit quality akin to Red Burgundy, I use Giovanna Morganti's Le Boncie as my first example. I implore you to trust this will be your moment of clarity for Sangiovese.
Importer Neal Rosenthal's Montevertine is a benchmark for the region, but his other discovery, Le Trame, better illustrates Sangiovese's sometimes elusive, fruit-forward profile and silken tannins. Also consider Chiesamonti, which comes from a one-hectare parcel in Castelnuovo Berardenga. The stonier soils here result in a wine with brighter red fruits and a long saline finish (Differing from Giovanna's other wines that exhibit more fleshy characteristics). These two Chiantis are all class.
Giovanna farms her five hectares using organic and biodynamic principles. I could go down the rabbit hole on farming, fermentation, and aging specifics, but I'd like to cut this one short and say: This is a profound wine that's a joy to drink. I've lost count of the number of times I've used this bottling to convince friends that Sangiovese can be fun, approachable, and deadly serious. Below is a photo from my 2017 visit and the gorgeous color of the Stockinger barrel sample that had me in love.
Soldera on the Casse Basse estate is hallowed ground in Montalcino. Founded in 1972 by Gianfranco Soldera, it's still one of Italy's most mysterious and celebrated addresses. Soldera is known for their rigorous standards in the vineyard, and selection in the cuverie is ruthless. The wines are featherweight, age-worthy beyond compare, and a model upon which all others in Montalcino follow suit.
The late Gianfranco was on vacation during my visit in 2017, but touring with his son-in-law, Paolo, who manages production, was a detailed exploration. The estate's 10 hectares of vines are adjacent to a mesmerizing garden with hundreds of flowers. The vineyard's hillside is composed of clay and galestro, a schist rock that can be broken apart in your hands, allowing vines to travel deep below the surface for nutrients. The vines grow freely, modeled after Lalou-Bize Leroy in Burgundy. But the real turn of events with the farming is the shockingly low yields, with some vines reduced to as few as three clusters prior to harvest.
The role of selection became a great theme. Soldera believes each vintage has an optimal berry size. They have a de-stemming machine that disposes of grapes outside the preferred dimensions. These select grapes ferment in massive old wood fermenters and get transferred to botti for elévage. Sulfur additions are essentially zero. After the required two years of aging, the wine goes directly from botti to bottling line, minimizing the movement as much as humanly possible.
Sampling the gorgeous 2013 vintage from botti was a haunting experience. The wine was shockingly transparent and light, beginning with its fabled weightless frame, then a saturating and deep grip. The tannins are never forceful, but that's not to underestimate the aging intended for this wine. Sangiovese takes on so many forms in Montalcino and Chianti, but here at Soldera, it seems to exist on its own plane. There's no doubt in my mind after visiting that this site is truly magical, but it's the difficult choices that are made at every stage that allow a wine of this magnitude to come to life.