Montevertine – Chianti for Wine Geeks

The small Tuscan producer Montevertine is known mostly to Sangiovese enthusiasts and Italian wine collectors.  The winery began as a personal project for steel industrialist Sergio Manetti when he purchased the Montevertine estate, in the heart of the Chianti district, for use as a country house in the 60s.  But, the first vintage in 1971 was so highly praised by family and friends that he turned to winemaking full-time.  His son Martino now runs the property.
 
Our supplier for Montevertine is Neal Rosenthal Wine Merchant and they are our best source of information for this somewhat under-the-radar screen winemaker: “Montevertine is frequently, but erroneously, included in the category of SuperTuscan wine. In fact, Montevertine’s policy of strict reliance on Sangiovese with a small complement of Colorino and Canaiolo is in direct contradiction to the approach of the SuperTuscan group of wines which include non-local grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot in their blends. Despite the formal lack of the appellation, Montevertine is one of the rare examples of a true Chianti Classico . . . There are 18 hectares of vineyards at Montevertine, 90% of which are planted to the Sangiovese grape with the remaining vineyards dedicated to Colorino and Canaiolo . . . All movement of the wine is by gravity and the wine is never pumped, in accordance with the traditional methods of the region.”

The 2017 Montevertine displays elegance even as its richness and drought-vintage concentration add intensity.  Notes of licorice and spice frame a core of dense fruit, dark in character but also with freshness - a duality difficult to achieve but typical of Montevertine.  Fermentation takes place naturally in cement vats and the wine spends second year in cask before bottling.  The 2018 Pian del Ciampolo is a classic bottling with dense fruit, a crushed-rocks sense of minerality and a tense, reverberating finish.

Montevertine is not classified as Chianti because Sergio Manetti opted out of the classification in the 70s.  At the time classification required that another indigenous Tuscan grape, Trebiano, be included and Manetti felt that Trebiano masked the ability of Sangiovese to transmit the terroir of Chianti, and in particular the special character of his cool climate high-altitude estate.  When Chianti authorities later came around to agree, and changed the rules to allow unalloyed Sangiovese or other blends, Montevertine declined to reapply for classification . . . perhaps just out of stubbornness.  Vineyards are worked without chemicals, fields are hand-harvested, there is no filtration and minimal sulfur is added.  We have only one case of the Montevertine Estate and two cases of the Pian del Ciampolo.

Montevertine Rosso di Toscana 2017
Retail Price: $69.99
Sale Price: $63.97
 
Vinous, 96 pts. - "The 2017 Montevertine is rich, creamy and beautifully resonant on the palate . . .  Montevertine is often austere, but the 2017 is unusually open today, not to mention incredibly delicious. There is plenty of tannin beneath all of that vintage 2017 fruit. Even so, opening a bottle young is not a crime by any stretch of the imagination. Black cherry, leather, sweet pipe tobacco, licorice and earthy notes develop with aeration, showing just a glimpse of what is in store for those who can wait. The 2017 is a striking wine in every sense. Floral notes reappear on the finish, adding further dimensions that will continue to unfold over the coming years. Drink 2022 – 2042." 

Wine Advocate, 94 pts. - "The namesake Montevertine 2017 Montevertine pours from the bottle with a slightly darker hue compared to its predecessors. The phenolic imprint of Sangioveto (with smaller parts Canaiolo and Colorino) is always stronger in the hot and dry vintages like 2017. That more structured and saturated personality is duly followed by generous and intense aromas of black cherry, wild plum, lavender essence and gardening soil. The wine speaks fluently in an authentic Tuscan accent, underling the extreme purity that can be achieved with these indigenous grapes and likewise reminding you of the sheer generosity and freshness that is so specific to Radda in Chianti. There is some dusty dryness on the finish, and this remains an impressive wine from a challenging vintage. Anticipated Maturity: 2021-2035." 

Montevertine Pian del Ciampolo Rosso di Toscana 2018
Retail Price: $37.99
Sale Price: $33.97
 
Wine Advocate, 92 pts. - "The entry-level Montevertine 2018 Pian del Ciampolo is a blend of mostly Sangioveto (otherwise known as Sangiovese) with the complimentary grapes Canaiolo and Colorino. This is a delicate and almost subdued expression that reveals itself slowly, peeling back veils of tart raspberry, wild cherry, blue flower and candied orange peel along the way. After you've played the veil game for a while, there is a point of ripe plum or blackberry confit at the very core of the wine that reflects the vintage warmth. This is a lean-bodied wine with a smooth and polished finish. You might pair it with a Tuscan favorite such as ribbon pasta with wild boar, pappardelle al sugo di cinghiale. The gamey flavors of the dish will offset the wine's racy acidity."

Decanter, 92 pts. - “From the estate’s various vineyards spread throughout the Radda commune, Pian del Ciampolo is fermented in cement with indigenous yeast and ages in Slavonian oak casks. It reveals pretty floral nuances of lilac and cherry blossoms after a rainfall. Hints of forest growth and red plum emerge on the palate. It’s soft and polished with a delightful lightness of texture and fine chalky tannins. This is all sumptuous berries and is irresistible now. Drink 2020-2027.”

Past Cellar Selections:
La Rioja Alta “890” Gran Reserva Rioja 2004
Meix Foulot Mercurey 2017 – Burgundy for Bargain Hunters
Giuseppe Mascarello Nebbiolo 2018
Lopez de Heredia Bosconia 2006
Domaine Huët 2019 – Grand Cru from the Loire Valley
Brunello di Montalcino 2015 – Selected Bottles
Shafer Vineyards – Relentless, One Point Five and Chardonnay
Paul Jaboulet – Majestic Wines from the Northern Rhone
Alion and Pintia – The Other Vega Sicilias
Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey – Magic in Burgundy
Domaine A. et P. de Villaine – Budget DRC?
Three Oderros: for the Picnic Table, the Dinner Table and the Cellar
Castilla Ygay 2010 – at 98 pts a ‘First Growth’ Rioja
Chateau Troplong Mondot St. Emilion 2017 – 98pts!
Burgundy with age from Jean Chauvenet
Cornas and Côtes-du-Rhone from Franck Balthazar
Quintessa 2016 – 98pt Bordeaux Blend from Napa

 

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