Giovanna studied oenology herself and went to work in the mid 1980s for San Felice wines in Castelnuovo Berardenga, near Siena, on a project to plant around 300 traditional Tuscan grape varietals collected from old vineyards. When Giovanna’s father gave her a small farm with olive groves, called Le Boncie, she added a vineyard planted with her favorites from the experimental project – Sangiovese, obviously, but also Ciliegiolo, Colorino, Foglia tonda Mammolo and Prugnolo., The vineyard, planted to a very high density of 7000 vines per hectare and dedicated principally to Sangiovese (supplemented by a few rows of Fogliatonda and the others for blending), produces the definitive wine of the estate: “Le Trame”. Vineyard work is conducted according to the general principles of the biodynamic movement. Harvesting is by hand. Fermentation occurs in traditional open-topped wooden tanks. The elevage is long and tranquil with an occasional racking implemented to aerate the wine. Aging occurs in mid-size barrels; the wine is then left to age in bottle for at least six months prior to release. Thus, the normal rhythm results in the wine’s arrival in our cellars in New York not earlier than 30 months after harvest.
|Chianti Classico Le Trame: The beauty of Sangiovese is revealed here in its most pure form, unencumbered by manipulation of the wine during vinification and elevage and without exposure to new oak. The vineyard lies at an altitude of 300-350 meters; the average vine age is 15 years. The essential character of this wine can best be described as “ferociously elegant”. But, what appears to be an oxymoron is, in fact, the reality. There is a gracefulness to this wine, an impeccable balance, that belies the intense concentration reflected in its vigorous, ripe tannins. Annual production is approximately 1000 cases; we import between 25% to 30% of that amount for the US market.|
|“Il Cinque”: is the little brother/sister of “Le Trame” from Podere Le Boncie. Originally this wine was sold only at the winery and was essentially created from fruit of vines younger and/or less well-positioned. Recently, Giovanna Morganti acquired access to a vineyard 3 kilometers up the road from their house in San Felice, a hamlet of Castelnuovo Berardenga but just outside the Chianti Classico zone. This new parcel is 1.3 hectares with very rocky limestone soils facing south-southwest in a windy area that is good for the health of the vines—Sangiovese with two rows of Canaiolo. (Her 3-1/2 hectares in the Chianti Classico zone are planted to Sangiovese with a bit of Mammalo, Colorino and Fogliatonda—first vintage bottled was 1990.) With this additional fruit, the “Il Cinque” has taken on a more serious tone and, starting with the 2012 vintage, we have purchased a substantial portion of the production.
The wine’s name “Cinque” recognizes the original composition of the wine, namely five grape types classic to the production of the finest Chianti Classico: principally Sangiovese with Colorino, Mammolo, Fogliatonda and Ciliegiolo completing the quintet. Recently, the wine is no longer composed strictly of the 5 grapes anymore, but Giovanna says the name also refers to the relative precociousness of the wine, thus a wine to “keep at hand” [5 fingers]. She also notes that grape vines have five leaves and flowers per bunch, that their house address is number 5, and that in Italian school you are graded one to ten, with five not quite passing, a bit of ironic understatement and a wink-of-the-eye modesty in reference to a wine that has assumed a rather majestic place amongst the elite wines of Tuscany. Cinque is perhaps less formidably structured than the Le Trame but it is no less noble, carrying its mantle of the particular terroir borne of the hills surrounding Castelnuovo Berardenga, wines of vigor and cut that chant the song of Sangiovese.. All parts of a good story to justify this quirky name of “5” or “Cinque”.
The Cinque is fermented in steel and then spends one year in wood vats of varying sizes (5 to 30 hectoliters). It is then assembled in tank, left to rest for a bit, and finally bottled without fining or filtration.
New Releases from Podere Le Boncie
Chianti suffers from a profound identity crisis: at one extreme, an ocean of under-farmed, over-cropped wines riding on brand recognition and pretend-paisano authenticity; at the other, starched-shirt Super Tuscans with Bordeaux envy and appropriately aspirationalist pricing. The midfield is underpopulated, with a mere handful of traditional torchbearers attempting to do justice to this great and historical terroir; and even these often err on the side of staid conservativism.
Within this milieu, Giovanna Morganti and her four-hectare farm Le Boncie stand virtually alone. The daughter of an influential enologist, Giovanna pursued a similar path herself in the late 1980s, working for the highly visible San Felice estate in the hamlet of Castelnuovo Berardenga in Chianti. Encompassing 140 odd hectares, San Felice was then undertaking a massive project to plant and monitor over 300 native Tuscan grape varieties, a formidable task with which Giovanna was deeply involved.
A few years later, Giovanna’s father bestowed upon her a small three-hectare tract of land in Castelnuovo Berardenga—raw material upon which she could create her own winery, according to her own vision, from the ground up. There’s a beloved quote from the immortal jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker: “Master your instrument; master the music; then, forget all that s#*% and just play.” Indeed, rather than bringing to bear the orthodoxy of the schooled enologist on her new endeavor, Giovanna forged something deeply personal—built on the back of scrupulous viticulture and guided by a spirit of intelligent low-interventionism in the cellar.
Giovanna planted mostly Sangiovese—but also Colorino, Mammolo, Foglia Tonda, and Ciliegiolo (some of her favorites from the San Felice project)—at an ultra-high density of 7,000 plants per hectare in Le Boncie’s remarkably rocky alberese soil. She trained them in the ancient gobelet method, sacrificing productivity for expressiveness—“I get half the yield but twice the quality with gobelet,” Giovanna remarks—and ensuring herself an awful lot of manual labor. In the cellar, she favors long, natural fermentations in open-top wooden casks, and aging in non-flavor-contributing oak of Slavonian and Austrian origin.
Winegrowing on such an intimate scale is a rarity in Chianti. Beyond their unassailable philosophical and technical bona fides, Giovanna’s wines convey a generosity of spirit and sense of personality that confront the taster indelibly—an impression made all the more meaningful by how seldom one encounters such things in this particular region, voiced by these particular grape varieties. Much like Bordeaux, Chianti is a region we real-wine lovers know is great, yet which often underwhelms us; Le Boncie shows what it can be at its heartfelt artisanal best. We at Rosenthal Wine Merchant hold Giovanna’s wines in the highest regard—as some of the most special wines we import from all of Italy.
2017 “Le Trame” Toscana Rosso
Giovanna’s flagship wine—formerly a “Chianti Classico” but proudly a “Toscana Rosso” since she wearied of the red tape and exited the appellation in 2012—comprises almost entirely Sangiovese, head-trained and densely planted, with splashes of interplanted indigenous varieties (Colorino, Mammolo, Foglia Tonda, and Ciliegiolo). Fermented in open-top oak casks and aged in a combination of large botti and 500-liter barrels (all well used), “Le Trame” expresses powerful, punchy minerality and a purity of fruit—robustly healthy, untampered fruit—that soars from the glass. The 2017 was birthed from a rollercoaster vintage (frost, heat, drought) but drinks with silken grace, brimming with darkly dusty cherry fruit possessing a gently medicinal edge, and framed by bracing acidity and palate-cleansing freshness.
2018 “Cinque” Toscana Rosso
Giovanna calls her second wine “Cinque,” a dual reference to the five grape varieties planted at Le Boncie and to the Italian grading system, in which a 5 (out of 10) constitutes not quite passing (Giovanna is atypically and charmingly self-effacing for a Tuscan). Part comes from the non-gobelet-trained vines of her original three-hectare farm, and another part from a recently acquired 1.3-hectare parcel called “Chiesa Monte,” three kilometers from Le Boncie and just outside the limit of Castelnuovo Berardenga. Giovanna ferments “Cinque” in a combination of cement and steel, with a slightly briefer maceration than “Le Trame,” and ages it in large botti for roughly one year less than the flagship wine. The result is slightly less structured and gentler, but still deeply expressive of both the warm generosity of Castelnuovo Berardenga and of Giovanna’s caressingly pure style. 2018 was a rainy and relatively tough growing season, but one would never know if from this wine, which is lithe, supple, and open for business even at this youthful stage.