Fontodi Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna Sorbo (1.5 Liter) 2008
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
What a beautiful surprise. The Fontodi 2008 Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna del Sorbo comes from the proverbial sleeper vintage that is hot-trotting it today with gangbuster results. This is a savory, almost full-bodied expression with ample doses of fruit sweetness and tertiary or savory characteristics that are carefully interwoven and integrated. The mouthfeel is voluptuous and rich with a creamy, fleshy finish. Dark fruit, cigar ash and scorched earth emerge from the glass. Aromatically, this wine has less of the mineral signature that we see in the newer vintages, and this could be explained by the fact that a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon was added to the blend back in 2008. This underlines an important stylistic shift in the timeline of Vigna del Sorbo (that would later go from Riserva status to Gran Selezione). Overall, this wine is most impressive in terms of mouthfeel, and I'm betting that it will hold for an additional 10 years, if not more.
One of the first wine regions anywhere to be officially recognized and delimited, Chianti Classico is today what was originally defined simply as Chianti. Already identified by the early 18th century as a superior zone, the official name of Chianti was proclaimed upon the area surrounding the townships of Castellina, Radda and Gaiole, just north of Siena, by Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany in an official decree in 1716.
However, by the 1930s the Italian government had appended this historic zone with additonal land in order to capitalize on the Chianti name. It wasn’t until 1996 that Chianti Classico became autonomous once again when the government granted a separate DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) to its borders. Ever since, Chianti Classico considers itself no longer a subzone of Chianti.
Many Classicos are today made of 100% Sangiovese but can include up to 20% of other approved varieties grown within the Classico borders. The best Classicos will have a bright acidity, supple tannins and be full-bodied with plenty of ripe fruit (plums, black cherry, blackberry). Also common among the best Classicos are expressive notes of cedar, dried herbs, fennel, balsamic or tobacco.
Among Italy's elite red grape varieties, Sangiovese has the perfect intersection of bright red fruit and savory earthiness and is responsible for the best red wines of Tuscany. While it is best known as the chief component of Chianti, it is also the main grape in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and reaches the height of its power and intensity in the complex, long-lived Brunello di Montalcino. Somm Secret—Sangiovese doubles under the alias, Nielluccio, on the French island of Corsica where it produces distinctly floral and refreshing reds and rosés.