Two rectifications from yesterday's post. The soils where Elisabetta Foradori grows her Nosiola and Manzoni Bianco is actually LIMESTONE and not clay and the method primarily used to make frizzante in Emilia-Romagna is CHARMAT and not Champenoise. Both these errors have been rectified in the original post.
We began our visit at Montesecondo (check out the dead toad we found that looks exactly like the estate's logo!) by visiting Silvio's cantina.
I swear he was more excited to see us than he looks in the picture. Silvio had a very challenging 2011 harvest but after some initial worries the wine is turning out to be just fine. We tasted a tank sample of the 2011 young vine Sangiovese which spent a lot of time on the lees that had very good acidity and lively fruit. The old vine Sangiovese was darker in color and more concentrated in fruit and minerality.
We then tasted some old vine Sangiovese that had been fermented in amphora. Silvio got his inspiration from tasting Foradori amphora wines, and he uses the same ones as Elisabetta. The juicy quality of the fruit and lighter body of the wine reminded me of Beaujolais.
Before heading to the cellar, Silvio offered to let us taste a vat of 100% Colorino yet to be blended into this year's Chianti Classico. Colorino is an indigenous varietal traditionally blended with Sangiovese and Canaiolo to make Chianti; it used to be way more prominent but the D.O.C's aspirations to emulate Bordeaux in the last 30 years have seen it all but disappear, and instead it has been replaced with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
We then made a quick trip to the cellar where Silvio blended a sample from three barrels of what will be the Chianti Classico 2010. Put your orders in early: It's fresh, lively, delicious, and will be bottled in January.
Here's Kevin's "Wine Spectator Editorial" pic.
It was then time to take a tour of the vines.
All of Silvio's vines surround his house, and are composed of three separate and distinct soil types: the vineyards closest to the village are sandy soils, the lower blocks are clay and and the top of the hill is composed of heavy clay and Galestro (heavy alluvial rocks similar to the galets ronds in Chateauneuf).
First we checked out some clusters of Trebbiano and Malvasia still hanging out and waiting to be harvested to make Passito.
After a tour of the Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Colorino vines, Silvio filled us in on an innovative experiment of his which seemingly will shape the look and style of the vineyard in the future.
Guyot is the typical vine-tending system in Chianti, but Silvio feels that he's had a great deal of frustration dealing with an excess in leaves, which he feels smothers the vines. In such - and continuing the pattern of our vignaiolis questioning and changing their vine-tending to better suit their work- Silvio has begun planting and re-grafting many vines in the Albarello (goblet) style.
He feels that this way the grapes can hang loose, not be bunched up and benefit from more air. Furthermore, he is planting them on attached poles with each vine quite separated from the next in order to avoid having to use wires in the future but also to give each vine enough space and soil for it excel.
As far as he knows, he is the only person doing this in Chianti.
After a "light" lunch at Silvio's house, we were off to visit Rufina and Fattoria Cerreto Libri.
The 80 hectare farm is headed by Andrea Zanfei and is run biodynamically.
Andrea explained that the farm dates back to the 19th century around the time of Leopold the 2nd. It used to be organized by separate houses: many small houses were spread across the land for shape croppers, one house was for workers and animals (usually filled with two families or one big family of as many as 20 people), another was reserved for the land manager, and finally the main residence belonged to the owner, who naturally had servants. All in all about 50 people lived on and actively worked the land.
The vines had never been a priority up until the last ten years, and Andrea jokingly explained that the parcels are spread across the farm like "leopard spots".
Before entering the cellar, Andrea showed us his de-stemmer, which Kevin thinks is probably one of the earliest models ever made.
He also showed us a huge pile of gross lees.
Then it was off to the cellar.
Everything is fermented in these beautiful concrete tanks.
Andrea only fills them up to about 75% and never presses the grapes. The fermentation is therefore a pseudo semi-carbonic maceration but with with numerous remontages and in concrete. No new oak is ever used for aging. Sulfur is never used during vinification or at bottling.
From concrete we tasted a tank of 2011, and a 2007 Chianti Rufi re-racked from barrel which Andrea plans to bottle in a month or two. It was light and easy with bright fruit and the wood wasn't overbearing but rather well integrated.
We also tasted some 2010 in tank without wood, some Canaiolo 09 in barrel and a standout Sangiovese 09 in barrel that had ripe, young fruit and strong vibrant acidity. Looks like it'll be a keeper.
Here's my "Wine Spectator Editorial" pic.
Tune in tomorrow for the Tuscan Takeover: Part 2!