I missed the celebration on the 4th, but truth be told there were plenty of fireworks earlier in the week when I arrived in Radda and was greeted by Martino Manetti at Montevertine. There's no reason to mince words, this was my most anticipated visit of the trip. The wines of Manetti, and his father Sergio, have pulled me in like none other in Italy. Although Montevertine's top wine Le Pergole Torte is among the world's greats, their Rosso and Pian del Ciampolo bottlings are reference points for Sangiovese in their respective price points.
The drive to Radda was an hour and a half from where I'm staying in Castelmuzio, neslted between Sienna and Montalcino. Arriving at the estate the full property introduces itself in epic form towering up from the winding road and revealing the home and winery atop this massive, revered slope.
Sergio Manetti originally planted just 2 hectares at this vacation property in 1967. With the unexpected glowing reception of the his first vintage (1971) he began to focus on winemaking exclusively. Manetti believed in the greatness of 100% Sangiovese from this hillside and in 1981 due to the laws of Chianti Classico requiring the addition of Trebbiano to the blend he chose to leave the consortium. This move was rare at the time, hard to believe now as so many of the great wines of Chianti Classico are produced with 100% Sangiovese. (Even though the law was changed in 1995 to allow 100% Sangiovese Chianti Classico many producers opt to maintain their "lower" IGT status).
The estate gained a loyal following at home and abroad, with Sergio's son Martino taking an active role with his father in 1989. In 2000 Martino took full control upon his father's passing.
The 18 hectare estate sits at 425 meters in Radda, one of the cooler zones in Chianti Classico. The soil is heavily dominated by limestone and this combo endows the wine with a sense of transparency, vibrancy, and grace that stand out immediately. Tradition is the overwhelming theme here, with an eye always kept towards showing Sangiovese at its most delicate, nuanced, and soil-inflected.
At least 25 day fermentation in concrete with pumpovers two times per day. Wines are aged in large Slavonian botti with the exception of Le Pergole Torte, sourced from the estate's oldest vines and highest elevation plantings. Le Pergole Torte is aged in French barrique with a maximum of 15% new wood - The deft use of barrique is what impresses so much here. Le Pergole Torte is the model of purity and elegance, never giving any indication of oak or toasted notes.
* There's been much confusion about the derivation of the name Le Pergole Torte. When Sergio Manetti bought the property there was a neighbor named Bruno who had just 3 rows of vines planted. These vines were trained in the old pergola fashion and the wine produced was so mesmerizing that it was the impetus for Manetti to plant.
I've spoken before about how the wines from Montevertine always remind me of the qualities that may be found in Burgundy's Chambolle-Musigny and Volnay. Talking to Manetti after bringing him a bottle of Roumier's Chambolle was really exciting, hearing about his love for these villages and particular producers. Those that approach winemaking as he does - eyes firmly fixed on reflecting terroir above all else and not being afraid to produce extremely transparent wines that appeal to a very select drinker. They are so unapologetic, and still beg to be drunk.
The younger Sangiovese vines that comprise Pian del Ciampolo and the MontevertineRosso are supplemented with small portions of the traditional Colorino and Canaiolo. To me, they're the most inspiring examples of Chianti Classico and offer the best value for traditional wines in the region. Bottles of the rosso have brought thrilling experiences with over 25 years of age. In closing I'll just say that anyone who's not familiar with the wines of Montevertine deserves an opportunity to drink. These are wines that speak to a very special place, and tug at the heartstrings like only the best wines of the world can do.
2013 Montevertine Pian del Ciampolo
$32 per bottle.
2012 Montevertine Pian del Ciampolo 1.5L
$73 per bottle.
2013 Montevertine Pian del Ciampolo 1.5L
$73 per bottle.
2012 Montevertine Rosso di Toscana
$54 per bottle.
2010 Montevertine Rosso di Toscana
$59 per bottle.
2004 Montevertine Rosso di Toscano IGT
$79 per bottle.
1999 Montevertine Rosso di Toscano IGT
$139 per bottle.
2013 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte 1.5L
$345 per bottle.
2013 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte 3L
$738 per bottle.
2013 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte 6L
$1,596 per bottle.
2010 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte
$219 per bottle.
2008 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte
$219 per bottle.
2004 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte
$269 per bottle.
2001 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte
$273 per bottle.
1997 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte
$272 per bottle.
1988 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte
$437 per bottle.
1988 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte 1.5L
$899 per bottle.
1990 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte
$599 per bottle.
1990 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte Riserva
Produced only this one year from a tank that contained fruit that was harvested at a later date that the others. Manetti found this to be so extraordinary that he chose to bottle as "Riserva" - denoted by a small sticker on the back of the neck.
$1,799 per bottle.
1979 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte
$739 per bottle.
1982 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte
$649 per bottle.