Montesecondo Chianti Classico 2018
Montesecondo comprises two separate properties: both are biodynamically farmed and both lie in the San Casciano zone of Chianti Classico but are quite different from each other. The Chianti is a blend of both sites, with proportions varying by vintage. The grapes are hand-harvested and mainly destemmed but with up to 30% whole clusters in the mix.
There are now two separate properties, both being in the sub-zone of San Casciano in Chianti Classico. One is the original, fully-organic family property, at a lower altitude on clay and marl soils which yield richer, fleshier wines, at one far-end of San Casciano. The other is a long-term rental, where Silvio lives and biodynamically farms 6 hectares in Vignano, about 18 km from the original estate vineyard but still in the same San Casciano zone, at a higher altitude with cooler calcareous soils, surrounded entirely by woods and olive groves; from here come higher-toned, higher-acid wines. Sangiovese from both goes into all of his reds (with the exception of the Il Rospo Cabernet).
Montesecondo wines have a tendency to run afoul of the powers-that-be in Chianti Classico: while Silvio's methods in the vineyard and cellar yield what many would and do consider pure, classically expressive Sangioveses, the way he gets there and occasionally the actual results (higher acidity, lighter color or darker color, etc.) led to enough issues over time that he bottles only one Classico and the rest of his wines as IGT Toscana. Silvio ferments with native yeasts only and does various-length macerations and aging in a variety of vessels (concrete, barrels, amphorae but with no new oak) . No sulfur is used during élévage, with a touch employed just before bottling if deemed necessary. The emphasis at Montesecondo is on grape and place, best expressed in his opinion through minimal but careful intervention. Montesecondo is an under-the-radar force of quality winegrowing and winemaking in the prominent but variable zone of Chianti Classico, driven by Silvio's close observation of and involvement with his farming and winemaking, both of which are constantly adapted as he experiments with drawing out the best of his terroir and fruit.
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.
Disenchanted with Italian winemaking laws in the 1970s, a few rebellious Tuscan winemakers decided to get creative. Instead of following tradition, to bottle Sangiovese by itself, they started blending it with international varieties, namely Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah in differing proportions and with amazing success. However, some Tuscan Blends don’t even include Sangiovese. Somm Secret—The suffix –aia in Italian modifies a word in much the same way –y acts in English. For example, a place with many stones (sassi) becomes Sassicaia. While not all Super Tuscan producer names end in –aia, they all share a certain coy nomenclature.