Pallas Wines Terroir Day 2023: Sangiovese.
Dutch wine importer Pallas Wines periodically organizes a so called ‘Terroir Day’. On this special occasion the specific growing conditions of one or more grapes are put into the spotlights. On the 24th of April 2023 Sangiovese was subject of discussion. Pallas Wines invited us to attend this exciting event. In the atmospheric upper room of the coach house of the Mauritshoeve in Bilthoven we were welcomed by Pallas head buyer: Joep Speet MV. Speet gave us a well-documented lecture on Sangiovese.
Sangiovese is a crossing of Ciliegiolo and Calabrese di Montenuovo. Sangiovese does have many clones. Until recently, vine cultivators were mainly focusing on quantity. Only recently, since around 1975, quality clones were produced. Research on Sangiovese is getting under way, but still is relatively young. One of the attended wineries – Fontodi – is a driving force behind these researches. Funny outcome on one of these researches is the fact that one of the best clones – the R24 – apparently is not a Tuscan clone but seems to be native to Romagna. One could imagine the proud Tuscans rather would like to keep a lid on that.
Due to the high number of young clones, there are not much old Sangiovese-vines in Tuscany. In our article about the Chilean Itata Valley, we have mentioned the benefits of old vines. It is interesting to see that Tuscan winemakers are questioning the quality of old vines. It goes a bit far to go into that in this article, but it may be an interesting subject for a futured DWA in depth-research.
Sangiovese requires a long growing season. As a comparison, it ripens later than for example Cabernet Sauvignon. Despite the thin skin, Sangiovese is able to withstand drought and heat. Side-effects are admissibility to gray rot and loss of colour. Sangiovese has a high amount of acids and tannins. Typical primary aromas are cherry, amarena, plum and violet. Due to its high acids and tannins, Sangiovese does have a great aging potential. Secondary and tertiary aromas like leather, brushwood and tobacco will give complexity and depth.
When Speet announces the attending wineries, it turns out Pallas Wines settles for the best. Giovanni Manetti of iconic winery Azienda Agricola Fontodi is present to tell us about Chianti Classico. On behalf of one of the best producers of Montepulciano – Boscarelli – Luca De Ferrari will talk about Vino Nobile de Montepulciano and Andrea Costanti, owner of the terroir driven winery Conti Costanti, will catch up on Brunello di Montalcino. All three of them only brought allocation wines and private cellar treasures.
Azienda Agricola Fontodi
Giovanni Manetti is taking us into Chianti Classico. Manetti is president of the Consorzio Chianti Classico. In that role he has been working on dividing Chianti Classico in eleven sub-areas since the 1980s. These areas will appear on the label soon. According to Manetti, terroir in Chianti is a combination between elevation, soil and tradition. When Manetti sums up Sangiovese in five catchy keywords, it becomes clear he is not only a man with a clear view, but also with a poetic soul.
- Generous: Sangiovese does give a generous yield and (only) under right conditions a generous wine
- Expecting the best: Sangiovese only gives the best under the best conditions
- Photo paper: Sangiovese reflects the terroir like a photopaper
- Simple but never easy: Sangiovese is like Tuscan food or an Italian Renaissance painting
- Noble & fascinating: Sangiovese makes you fall in love
As a sixteen-year-old boy, Giovanni Manetti moves from the sophisticated metropolis Florence to the middle of nowhere in the heart of Tuscany: Panzano in Chianti. The family Manetti buys an on production of terracotta-oriented domain called Fontodi. Over the years they bought more and more land. Nowadays the domain owns 110 ha of vineyards and 25 ha of olive groves. Their total production is 350.000 bottles a year.
Despite the size of his winery, it is obvious Manetti is detail-oriented. Prior to harvest, grapes are checked row by row. Picking of the grapes destined for the top wines only may be done by own pickers with a minimum experience of 15 years. The point end of the stem of every grape has to be red coloured. Sangiovese simply requires a complete ripening. In the so-called Golden Shell complete ripening isn’t a challenge. In this natural amphitheater the days are long and the vines benefit the tempering effect of the river Peza. The soil mainly consists of limestone and Galestro. Galestro also is known as schist and is a hard-rocky soil made out of clay and sand and containing limestone.
According to Manetti, a natural approach is a prerequisite to express the terroir in his wines. Manetti doesn’t see himself as a winemaker. In his vision he is a supporter of nature. Fontodi is fully self-sufficient. The philosophy is to maximize the internal recourses reducing the need for any external input. In their opinion this way of working is resulting in high quality wines with a truer expression of the territory. So, it is that Fontodi does own its own cows. Due to the focus on quantity, these local cows almost disappeared out of Tuscany. Thanks to the choice for this local fertilizer, Fontodi has a closed loop system and the Tuscan cows are back in the picture. It cuts both ways.
Although French oak is used in the cellar, Fontodi also uses its homemade terracotta. For their flagship wine Flaccianello della Pieve a small amount of terracotta aged wine is used. Flaccianello is wine made out of 100% Sangiovese. These grapes grow on the top of the hill, were the days are longer. According to the laws back in the days, it was not allowed to make Chianti Classico DOCG out of 100% Sangiovese. That is why Flaccianello actually is a Super Tuscan. Nowadays Fontodi would be allowed to classify Flaccianello as Chianti Classico DOCG, but Flaccianello Colli Toscana Centrale IGT has become a badge of honor and Fontodi still declassifies Flaccianello to IGT.
We tasted Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve 2019 and Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve 2010.
Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve 2019
Medium Ruby red, white rim. On the nose ripe concentrated fruits like cherry and amarena combined with fresh floral tones like violet. Pronounced secondary tones like sandalwood and vanilla. On the palate velvety layers of ripe cherry and plum, worn by vibrant elegant acids and a salty tannin structure. In de long-lasting aftertaste pronounced secondary flavours like cacao and espresso. The wine is in its youth and has not fully opened yet. It now already is a great wine, but time definitely will bring it to a new dimension.
DWA-score: 95 (HJ)
Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve 2010
Deep ruby red, orange rim. In the nose open and fully developed. Dark fruit like black cherry and blackcurrant, surrounded by hints of saddle leather and green Mediterranean herbs like thyme and basil. On the palate striking lively and fresh. Intense and concentrated with a mineral titillating and energetic mouthfeel, saline-like tannins and long-lasting aftertaste with flavours like black cherry, new leather and mint. Outstanding wine.
DWA-score: 96 (HJ)
The baton is taken over by Luca De Ferrari. Luca De Ferrari represents the iconic winery Podere Boscarelli in Montepulciano. When Ferrari tells about Boscarelli, one feels Boscarelli truly is a family business. Boscarelli was founded in 1962 by Egidio Corradi. After the death of her husband Ippolito in a tragic car crash, the daughter of Egidio Corradi – Paola De Ferrari Corradi – took over the reins. Nowadays the winery is run by her sons Luca and Nicolò De Ferrari. Boscarelli produces approximately 120.000 bottles a year, of which 80% is Vino Nobile de Montepulciano DOCG.
Podere Boscarelli is located in the production area of Vino Nobile DOCG. The vineyards are located near the small village Cervonagno, were the grapes benefits a particular microclimate with natural air circulation. The vineyards are located at around 300 meters altitude facing the Chiana Valley. The soils are mainly alluvial and sandy. The yearly harvest of Boscarelli consist of at least 30 different cuvées, according to the ages of the vines and soil composition. The cuvées are fermented and aged separately and only a few weeks before bottling blended to desired final blend. According to Luca De Ferrari, the goal of Boscarelli is making a final blend that optimally expresses the specific terroir.
Luca de Ferrari shows us the power of the terroir of Boscarelli and its blending philosophy by letting us taste Boscarelli Vino Nobile de Montepulciano Costa Grande 2019 and Boscarelli Vino Nobile de Montepulciano Il Nocio 2019.
Boscarelli Vino Nobile de Montepulciano Costa Grande 2019
Sangiovese grapes from the 1,5-ha north-east exposed Vigna Grande vineyard. The soil contains a higher amount of clay and red soil comparing to other vineyards. The reds soil tends to give the wine a slightly lower acidity level and a powerful energy.
The wine is transparent ruby red with slightly orange rims. On the nose the wine gives ripeness with smoky and herbaceous tones. Ripe red cherry, raspberry, wild strawberry and roses. On the palate also rich slightly voluptuous red fruits supported by energetic acids and powerful ripe tannins.
DWA-score: 93 (HJ)
Boscarelli Vino Nobile de Montepulciano Il Nocio 2019
Sangiovese grapes from the 4-ha vineyard called Vigna del Nocio. Altitude ranging from 280 meters to 350 meters above sea level. The soil contains a higher amount of sand.
Although the wine still is a bit reluctant, is already shows some of it characterizes. The wine is pure, floral, pungent and fresh. Clean juice, elegant acids, vibrant tension, great complexity and a very long-lasting herbaceous aftertaste. Very good wine with great aging potential.
DWA-score: 94 (HJ)
Conti Costanti Viticultori
Last but definitely not least we had the honor to listen to Andrea Costanti telling about Brunello di Montalcino and his winery Conti Costanti.
Costanti outlines the history of Brunello di Montalcino. That is not surprising: Conti Costanti is established in 1555 (!) and was the first winery to classify a Brunello di Montalcino. Conti Costanti is underpinned by a long and rich history. The oldest tree bottles in their cellar date from 1838. Nowadays Andrea Costanti owns the winery and Vittorio Fiore is attached as winemaker. Andrea Costanti respects the past but also is facing the long-time future.
Conti Costanti is located close to the town of Montalcino, in Colle al Matrichese. In terms of Montalcino, the 10 hectares of vineyards of Conti Costanti located around 310 – 400 metres above sea level could be classified as high-altitude vineyards, especially when ones takes in consideration the north east exposure. According to Andrea Costanti these circumstances are no unnecessary luxury in times of climate change. The soil is mainly Galestro.
The philosophy of Conti Costanti could not be better explained than by the following memorable phrase of Andrea Costanti himself: ‘wood is everywhere, Brunello only is in Montalcino’. It may be clear that Costanti is reluctant in wood use, especially in terms of new oak. Costanti applies an ingenious system of aging all of his wines, that holds the middle on cuvee selection and vineyards selection. Served out of magnums, we tasted Conti Costanti Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2016 en Conti Costanti Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2012.
Conti Costanti Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2016
One of the best vintages for Montalcino. Transparent ruby red. Ripe and pure fruits, cherry, herbaceous, warm earth. Exciting interaction between the ripeness of the fruits and tannins on the one hand and celestial acids on the other. Seductive, elegant and an everlasting aftertaste. Outstanding wine.
DWA-score: 97 (HJ)
Conti Costanti Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2012
Warmer vintage. Transparent tawny red, orange rims. Expressive aromas, slightly animalistic, pure fruit expression with complex ripening tones like leather and cacao. Seductive acids continuous opening new layers. Fleshy ripe tannins and long-lasting aftertaste. Outstanding wine.
DWA-score: 95 (HJ)
Pallas Wines did a great job hosting this well-organized event. No one could have demonstrated the influences of terroir on Sangiovese better than these top-notch winemakers. Fontodi, Boscarelli and Conti Costanti are established names and on these Terroir Day we experienced ourselves that is for a good reason. No wines could have proven the importance of terroir better than the benchmark wines of these great winemakers.
Tuscany, a Journey through Five Lenses
If Tuscany has a special place in your heart we recommended you to keep an eye on our media channels. Dutch Wine Apprentice is launching a six-month campaign featuring the key wine regions in Tuscany. Through five “lenses” we will dive into the differences of each region, with a leading winery for each region as our main guest.
This special project has 4 chapters, featuring reviews of iconic wines, in-dept articles, interviews and a physical Masterclass. We will take you on a journey through Tuscany, Chianti, Bolgheri, Montalcino and Montepulciano. “Tuscany a Journey through Five Lenses” will start in May and finish in October. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed on the launch.
We thank Pallas Wines and especially Joep Speet for organizing this Terroir Day and inviting us. We thank Giovanni Manetti, Luca De Ferrari and Andrea Costanti for sharing their knowledge and philosophies and giving us an honest glimpse in their considerations getting the best out of Sangiovese by letting the terroir speak.
This event was covered by our own Hermen Jansen.