We recently indulged ourselves with a trip into our past as experienced through several older vintages of Chianti Classico Riservas from Castell’in Villa, one of our first sources of superb Italian wine (and no longer part of our portfolio for a complex of reasons). Most specifically, we drank on separate occasions the 1988 and 1985 versions of Coralia Pignatelli’s formidable standard bearer. The drama of both of these wines, the profound depth, the regal bearing and the astonishing freshness that marked each vintage puts in stark relief the proposition that: Sangiovese, planted in its proper zone, is one of the most noble of grapes and, further, the hilly region immediately surrounding the village of Castelnuovo Berardenga in the southern tier of the Chianti Classico appellation is the region that showcases Sangiovese at its most compelling.
We are fortunate to have replaced Castell’in Villa in our portfolio with Giovanna Morganti’s “Podere Le Boncie”, far smaller in size but blessed, it would seem, with the same “terroir” as that of Castell’in Villa. Le Boncie’s vineyards are located in the hamlet of San Felice, just north of Castelnuovo Berardenga and minutes away from the vineyards of Castell’in Villa which sits within the limits of the hamlet of San Gusmé.
In both instances, the wines are produced virtually exclusively from the Sangiovese grape with perhaps a miniscule percentage of other local, autoctonous varieties. These are wines of structure with a significant tannic backbone that is cocooned within a muscular but truly elegant and athletic frame. Excuse me, please, for what might appear to be an excess of praise but the best of the wines from this pair of estates are equal to the finest red wines produced anywhere. The impeccable balance that marks these wines makes for a long horizon through which to view their evolution. At ten, twenty, even thirty years of age, I can assure you that these wines will provide a complete and satisfying experience. I have witnessed this phenonenon on multiple occasions with Castell’in Villa and I am certain that will prove to be the case with the wines of Podere Le Boncie. Here, in the humble appellation of Chianti Classico, one can find some of the greatest values in the world of wine.
All of which brings up the question: why was it ever necessary to indulge in the nasty pursuit of the “super Tuscan” wine? Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet … none of these “invaders” was ever necessary to produce important wine in this district; in fact, the presence of these imposters destroys the essence of the “terroir” that is best expressed through the oh-so-noble Sangiovese. Fortunately, the folly of this path has become evident. Sangiovese, certainly when planted and cared for in the hills around Castelnuovo Berardenga, needs no help in rendering wine of the most compelling nature.
NIR: 10 Feb 2013