Tenuta Fontodi, Flaccianello della Pieve

Tenuta Fontodi, Flaccianello della Pieve, 2015

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  • icon-alcohollevel Alcohol level


  • icon-grapevariety Grape variety
    Sangiovese 100%
  • Rating

    JS 97, RP 98

Fontodi was among the first producers to make a wine that is a 100% Sangiovese in new French oak. They quickly set the benchmark for all others to follow and the 2015 Flaccianello is the wine that has raised the bar.

This is a drop-dead gorgeous Sangiovese that rivals the legendary 2006 bottling, making it one of the two best bottlings to date.

The process of vinification and ageing in wood takes place in the modern cellar, built on descending levels to take advantage of gravity, guaranteeing the most respect possible for the natural integrity of the grape, in order to exalt the character and elegance of the wines.

About Tenuta Fontodi

Fontodi is a wine producer in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. It is known particularly for its Super Tuscan wine, Flaccianello delle Pieve, a full-bodied varietal Sangiovese, and its range of classic Tuscan wines, including Chianti and Vin Santo.

The estate is located in the heart of the Classico zone, south of Panzano, in the valley known as the Conca d'Oro, (or golden shell) due to its sun-catching amphitheatre shape. The climate in this part of Tuscany is warm and dry with a marked difference between day and night temperatures, and the soils in the 70-hectare (173-acre) vineyard are a combination of chalk, clay and schist. The Flaccianello della Pieve wine comes from a selection of the best plots of Sangiovese, but other varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are planted in the vineyards.

Fontodi ferments all of its red wines in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, except for the Pinot Nero which uses conical wooden vats. French oak from the Troncais and Allier forests is used for aging, the top wines in 225-litre barriques.

As well as the Flaccianello della Pieve, the Fontodi portfolio includes the Chianti Classico Riserva wine Vigna del Sorbo, which is a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. The generic Chianti Classico represents the core of production, and there are a range of varietal wines made from Syrah, Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) and Sauvignon Blanc. A Vin Santo rounds out the range.

Grape variety

Sangiovese is a red Italian wine grape variety that derives its name from the Latin sanguis Jovis, "the blood of Jupiter". Though it is the grape of most of central Italy from Romagna down to Tuscany, Campania and Sicily, outside Italy it is most famous as the only component of Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino and the main component of the blends Chianti, Carmignano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano, although it can also be used to make varietal wines such as Sangiovese di Romagna and the modern "Super Tuscan" wines like Tignanello.

Sangiovese was already well known by the 16th century. Recent DNA profiling by José Vouillamoz of the Istituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige suggests that Sangiovese's ancestors are Ciliegiolo and Calabrese Montenuovo. The former is well known as an ancient variety in Tuscany, the latter is an almost-extinct relic from the Calabria, the toe of Italy. At least fourteen Sangiovese clones exist, of which Brunello is one of the best regarded. An attempt to classify the clones into Sangiovese grosso (including Brunello) and Sangiovese piccolo families has gained little evidential support.

Young Sangiovese has fresh fruity flavours of strawberry and a little spiciness, but it readily takes on oaky, even tarry, flavours when aged in barrels. While not as aromatic as other red wine varieties such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, Sangiovese often has a flavour profile of sour red cherries with earthy aromas and tea leaf notes. Wines made from Sangiovese usually have medium-plus tannins and high acidity.

The high acidity and light body characteristics of the Sangiovese grape can present a problem for winemaking. The grape also lacks some of the colour-creating phenolic compounds known as acylated anthocyanins. Modern winemakers have devised many techniques trying to find ways to add body and texture to Sangiovese - ranging from using grapes that come from extremely low yielding vines, to adjusting the temperature and length of fermentation and employing extensive oak treatment. One historical technique is the blending of other grape varieties with Sangiovese, in order to complement its attractive qualities and fill in the gaps of some of its weaker points. The Sangiovese-based wines of Chianti have a long tradition of liberally employed blending partners—such as Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo, Mammolo, Colorino and even the white wine grapes like Trebbiano and Malvasia. Since the late 20th century, Bordeaux grapes, most notably Cabernet Sauvignon, have been a favoured blending partner though in many Italian DOC/DOCG regions there is often a maximum limit on the amount of other varietals that can be blended with Sangiovese; in Chianti the limit for Cabernet is 15%.

Other techniques used to improve the quality of Sangiovese include extending the maceration period from 7–12 days to 3–4 weeks to give the must more time to leach vital phenols out of the grape skins. Transferring the wine during fermentation into new oak barrels for malolactic fermentation gives greater polymerisation of the tannins and contributes to a softer, rounder mouthfeel. Additionally, Sangiovese has shown itself to be a "sponge" for soaking up sweet vanilla and other oak compounds from the barrel. For aging the wine, some modern producers will utilize new French oak barrels but there is a tradition of using large, used oak botti barrels that hold five to six hectolitres of wine. Some traditional producers still use the old chestnut barrels in their cellars.

Alternative Names: Nielluccio, Sangioveto, Sangiovese Grosso, Sangiovese Piccolo, Brunello, Prugnolo Gentile, Morellino

About Chianti Classico

Chianti Classico is the heartland of the Chianti wine region – its traditional and longest-established viticultural area. The term classico is used in this way in several Italian wine regions (Orvieto and Valpolicella, for example), although Chianti is the most famous example. The typical Chianti Classico wine is a ruby-red, Sangiovese-based wine with aromas of violets and cherries and a hint of earthy spice.

Since the 1920s bottles of Chianti Classico wine have been marked by the DOCG's black cockerel (Gallo Nero) logo. However bottles sold in the US are not adorned with the bird, after a long running legal dispute begun by E&J Gallo Winery in 1991 was concluded in favour of the American company.

The symbol has a romanticised and much-told legend. In the 13th Century, the warring Tuscan provinces of Florence and Siena looked for a way to solve their ongoing border disputes. They agreed to a race; when the first cockerel crowed at dawn, each city would send out its fastest rider bound for the rival city. Where the two riders met would mark the new provincial boundary. The Florentines gained a head start by starving their (black) cockerel to make him sing earlier than the well-fed counterpart from Siena, so the two riders met only around 10 kilometres (six miles) north of Siena.

The modern-day Chianti Classico viticultural area now covers almost all land between Siena and Florence, buffered at each end by the Colli Fiorentini and Colli Senesi production zones. Of these and the other demarcated Chianti zones – Colli Aretini, Colline Pisane, Montalbano, Montespertoli and Rufina – the latter is the only one generally considered to rival the quality of Classico vineyards.

The very first classico area here was marked out in 1716 by Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici. This was enlarged significantly in 1932, a change criticized as being over-generous and potentially damaging to the Chianti Classico name, and certainly varied in terms of terroir. Nevertheless, this larger area became legally recognized in 1966 when Italy began formalizing its wine laws and DOC system. In the 1980s, Chianti Classico was promoted from DOC to DOCG status.

Chianti Classico wines must contain a minimum of 80 percent of the Sangiovese variety. The remainder can be made from native grapes such as Canaiolo or Colorino, plus international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Wines made only from Sangiovese have been permitted since 1996. The use of white grape varieties such as Malvasia and Trebbiano was prohibited 10 years later.

There are three quality levels within Chianti Classico wines: Annata (the standard wines) Riserva and Gran Selezione. Riserva wines must be aged for 24 months before commercial release. A Chianti Classico Gran Selezione must be made from a single estate and have been aged for a full 30 months. Since the category was introduced in 2013, it has also caused plenty of controversy, with some producers seeing it as unnecessary bureaucratic tinkering, pointing to a confusion between emphasis on terroir on one hand and the implication of human agency of the term selezione. Because the wines must be single estate products – not necessarily single vineyard wines – some very high production wines qualify; 500,000 bottles of Ruffino's Ducale d'Oro are made each year. On the other hand it is unlikely that the hundreds of Chianti Classico producers would be able to agree on classifying vineyards in the region in the manner of Chablis or the Côte d'Or.

The area's fame is due not just to the high quality of the wines, but also to the Classico zone's gastronomy and the iconic Tuscan landscape. The rural buildings and farmhouses are coveted by tourists and foreign residents. Agritourism and wine tasting tours are an important part of the region's wine economy and international profile.

Regular price $269.00

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