Castello di Farnetella Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG 2014

Estate: Castello di Farnetella is located in the province of Siena in Tuscany, Italy. The name Farnetella derives from farnia, “the English oak”, which grows in great profusion at Farnetella. The Poggiali family [owners of the renowned Fèlsina estate] purchased the historic 432 hectare estate with its 56 hectares of vineyards in 1981.

Fèlsina is headed by Domenico and Giuseppe Poggiali along with Giovanni Poggiali, the oldest of Giuseppe’s three sons. Fattoria di Fèlsina is renowned as one of the greatest vineyards in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany, producing “one of the finest ranges of age worthy and complex Chianti bottlings in all of Italy”.

Philosophy: “A profound respect for the Tuscan traditions of yesterday.”

Winemaking: As with all of Fèlsina’s properties, the vineyards are farmed organically and sustainably, additionally, Castello di Farnetella is also practicing biodynamic methods. Grapes are hand harvested from vineyards with loam, sand, clay and chalky soils. Aged in large oak botti for 8-12 months, followed by 3 months in the bottle.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with inviting aromas of cherry, woods, dusty earth and a hint of funk. A classic expression of Chianti, with silky layers of cherry, leather, tobacco and earth. A refreshing herbaceous streak highlights food friendly acidity and dry tannins. Sour cherry and a trace of cured meat comprise the dry finish. A phenomenal value that pairs wonderfully with a wide variety of dishes.

92% Sangiovese, 8% Merlot
Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG
Italy
Estate Bottled by Fèlsina SPA
12.5% Alcohol
$11
Enjoy now thru 2019

At the End, the Bottle Must be Empty: A Glass of Chianti and a Chat with Caterina Gargari of Pieve De’ Pitti

Organized by the Consorzio del Chianti, I was delighted to attend Chianti Lovers Anteprima Chianti 2017 held at Fortezza da Basso in Florence, Italy on February 12th. The ‘antiprima’ tasting featured 2015 barrel samples from more then 100 producers, along with older vintages and Vin Santo. I thoroughly enjoyed attending Chianti Lovers Tasting in 2015 in New York City, and was enthusiastic to be able to attend in Florence. It was an engaging, informative tasting in which I was able to catch up with some of my favourite winemakers, along with meeting new wines and friends.

Pieve De’ Pitti is a family estate headed by Caterina Gargari and is located in Tuscany, in the heart of the Alta Valdera, in the convergence point of the valley. The name Pieve de’ Pitti comes from the Florentine Pitti who owned the estate until the end of the 17th century and from the parish chapel of St. John of Pava, that was built on the ruins of an ancient Etruscan church.

The family estate consists of 198 hectares of woods and olive groves, along with 16 hectares that are hilly vineyards with sand/clay/fossil rich soil. It is this distinctive soil, coupled with “sea winds which come from across the hills of Miemo and Castellina”, that give their “grapes a mineral and savoury flavour”. Committed to the philosophy that “great wine is made in the vineyard” the estate uses sustainable and organic methods, along with minimal intervention in both the vineyards and cellar.

‘Cerretello’ Chianti Superiore is the estate’s first label and is based on a classic family blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia grapes, traditionally crafted from the oldest vineyards in the estate [planted by Caterina’s grandfather in the 1960’s]. Caterina preserves this tradition and puts her own mark on it by using Sangiovese grapes from vineyards planted in 2001.

Gracious, friendly and knowledgeable, I always look forward to speaking with Caterina and discovering how her latest harvest was and the taste her striking wines. The 2015 summer in Italy was very hot, thankfully the clay soils at Pieve De’ Pitti kept the vine roots cool along with providing fresh water reserves, rescuing them from drought and withering. The heat gave way to frequent storms with lots of rain in august. The somewhat extreme combination has brought forth one of their best vintages.

Soil composition is such a huge component to understanding and appreciating the character of a wine. I always try to include it in my reviews, as it assists it conveying a sense of place. Caterina displayed the soil the vines grow in next to the wines, a fantastic visual aid in comprehending the role soil plays. When you see the density of the clay soil, you understand how it was able to hold water and cool the roots even in hot, dry weather.

Below are the 3 wines I had the pleasure of tasting with Caterina:

Pieve De’ Pitti ‘Poggio alla Volpe’ Chianti Superiore DOCG 2015

Winemaking: Sourced from grapes grown in clay soil, this will be bottled in a couple of years; it will spend 2 years in cement.

Tasting Notes: Intense fruit and spice with a cheerful agility. A splash of coffee lingers with the light tannins and dry mineral finish. Engaging, well balanced and already fun to drink.

Pieve De’ Pitti ‘Cerretello’ Chianti Superiore DOCG 2013

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vineyards with two different soils [pictured above]: One is the classic mix of sand rich in shells, typical of Tuscany in general. The second is richer in minerals, a little bit light, with many white stones from the river. Cerretello is aged in cement to allow the terroir and grapes to be the highlight of each sip. Caterina stated that 2013 is her most elegant vintage, the wine is “very feminine in the nose, flowery more then the usual fruitiness”, the tannins are present yet gentle.

Tasting Notes: Abundant floral aromas with a trace of cherry lead into wonderfully balanced, silky fruit and floral notes. A clean mineral streak peeks thru soft spices, earth and leather. Gentle tannins highlight the bit of saltiness on the dry mineral finish. Nearly gossamer in character, an incredibly refined sip.

Pieve De’ Pitti Vinsanto del Chianti DOC 2008

Winemaking: Trebbiano & San Colombano grapes were harvested early in the season, in early September. Then they dry on racks for 4-5 months in a special room, the Vinsantaia. After hand pressing the juice is put in chestnut and cherry barrels, where it remains for at least 5 years.

Tasting Notes: Silky smooth, with deep, sunny flavours of apricot, nectarine, honey and candied orange zest. A savoury streak and bright acidity along with clean minerals on the dry finish keep each sip fresh and balanced.

The elegant, friendly, accessible wines are a reflection of Caterina and her passionate commitment to crafting great wines that are a pleasure to drink. “Pieve de’ Pitti wines are made to be enjoyed with good friends and good food. And at the end, the bottle must be empty.”

 

 

Media event sponsored by Consorzio del Chianti.

Castello di Farnetella Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG 2012

felsinacolli

Estate: Castello di Farnetella is located in the province of Siena in Tuscany, Italy. The Poggiali family [owners of the renowned Fèlsina estate] purchased the historic estate with its 65 hectares of vineyards in 1981. Fèlsina is headed by Domenico and Giuseppe Poggiali along with Giovanni Poggiali, the oldest of Giuseppe’s three sons. Fattoria di Fèlsina is renowned as one of the greatest vineyards in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany, producing “one of the finest ranges of age worthy and complex Chianti bottlings in all of Italy”.

Philosophy: “A profound respect for the Tuscan traditions of yesterday.”

Winemaking: As with all of Fèlsina’s properties, the vineyards are farmed organically and sustainably, additionally, Castello di Farnetella is also practicing biodynamic methods. Grapes are hand harvested from vineyards with loam, sand, clay and chalky soils.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, black pepper, leather and earth. A lovely, well balanced, fruit forward expression of Chianti, with cherry, leather and floral notes supported by a spiced, earthy core. Grippy tannins and traces of cigar box spice are complimented by black cherry on the dry finish. A phenomenal value that will be drinking for many years to come.

90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot
Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG
Italy
Estate Bottled by Fèlsina SPA
13.5% Alcohol
$11
Enjoy now thru 2022

La Maialina Chianti 2013

maialina

With grapes sourced from some of the most prestigious estates in Tuscany, this is a friendly, easy going Chianti with a wonderful value price tag.

Winemaking: La Maialina is the brainchild of noted oenologist Attilio Pagli. Named after an heirloom breed of pig indigenous to the Siena region during the 1300’s. It is the only native pig of Tuscany to have survive extinction and still be seen in the countryside today. Pagli purchases surplus juice from some of the best estates in Tuscany to craft La Maialina. Aged in stainless steel.

Philosophy: “To preserve the flavor of Tuscany”.

Tasting Notes: Dark ruby red in colour with a aromas of wild berries, forest floor and hints of white peppercorn. With a bit of decanting the hotness on the finish is tamed, [along with bringing the bright fruit flavours out], allowing sweet herbaceous spice and leather notes to linger softly between each sip.

Sangiovese [I could not verify varietal percentage, but it must be at least 80% Sangiovese according to DOCG law.]
Chianti
Italy
Bottled for La Maialina by 15632/FI Cerreto Guidi
12.5% Alcohol
$9
Enjoy now thru 2017

Consorzio Vino Chianti ‘Chianti Lovers’ Tasting at The High Line Hotel, NYC 2015 [Part 3]

glasses

I had the pleasure of attending the Consorzio Vino Chianti ‘Chianti Lovers’ Tasting held at the Refectory Ballroom at The High Line Hotel in Manhattan on April 27, 2015. Established in 1927, the Consortium protects over 3600 producers, working more than 15,500 hectares of vineyards, producing in excess of 800,000 hectoliters of Chianti. From selection of grapes to vinification, from testing of the chemical and physical properties to bottling, the Consortium ensures that the wines meet DOC and DOCG standards. The Consortium is committed to preserving and advancing the culture and history of Chianti, along with expressing the high quality the wine has achieved. Chianti DOCG is produced in the provinces of Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena in Tuscany, central Italy.

Over 30 winemakers and estate owners gathered to present their wines, many of which are in need of US importers and distributors [which is why price information is not available]. Each winemaker or estate owner I spoke with was enthusiastic to tell me the story of his or her wines, sharing details such as varietal blending methods and sustainable, environmentally-friendly vineyard and winery practices, along with vintage particularities. With a region as large as Chianti, each producer can have a vastly different vintage from his near neighbor. From vibrant and fresh to subtle and elegant, a vast array of the styles and vintages of Chianti were presented.

My third and final installment involves catching up with old friends and the meeting of new ones. The Chianti Tasting is always an informative, engaging event that I am delighted to be a part of. Cheers!

Pieve De’ Pitti

caterina

The always delightful and elegant Caterina Gargari of Pieve di Pitti.

Pieve De’ Pitti is a family estate headed by Caterina Gargari and is located in the heart of the Alta Valdera. The estate consists of 198 hectares of woods and olive groves, along with 16 hectares that are hilly vineyards with sand/clay/fossil rich soil. It is this distinctive soil, coupled with “sea winds which come from across the hills of Miemo and Castellina”, that give their “grapes a mineral and savoury flavour”. ‘Cerretello’ Chianti Superiore is the estate’s first label and is based on a classic family blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia grapes, traditionally crafted from the oldest vineyards in the estate. Caterina preserves this tradition and puts her own mark on it by using Sangiovese grapes from vineyards planted in 2001. Cerretello is aged in cement to allow the terrior and grapes to be the highlight of each sip.

The elegant, friendly wines are a reflection of Caterina; I always look forward to discussing vintages with her whilst enjoying her wines. Last year, we discussed how even though 2010 was a phenomenal vintage for many winemakers in Chianti, it was not her best. The slightest shift in sea breezes or isolated storm can make a world of a difference within one region for each producer. In fact, it was 2011 that she was watching develop into an outstanding vintage. This year, whilst enjoying her ‘Cerretello’ Chianti Superiore 2011, she took her analysis further, telling me that 2011 has become the best vintage her estate has had thus far. Looking to the future, she said that the 2014 harvest was abundant with great quality grapes, she is expecting an excellent vintage.

pieve

Cerretello Chianti Superiore DOCG 2011
With another year under its belt since my last visit, vivid, clean fruit flavours still take the spotlight. Silky smooth tannins in the full body balance leather, spices and soft earth, whilst the renowned salty mineral element drives the dry finish.

Cerretello Chianti Superiore DOCG 2008
Caterina credits the very mild weather in 2008 for conferring a refined elegance to the vintage. Well balanced flavours of cherry and strawberry with an earthy, forest floor undercurrent, velvety tannins and a plush finish keep you reaching for more.

Tenuta Bichi Borghesi

niccolo

The charming Niccolò Simonelli of Tenuta Bichi Borghesi.

Niccolò Simonelli’s family has been crafting wine at Tenuta Bichi Borghesi for more then 4 centuries. The estate is located in Chianti Colli Senesi and consists of over 400 hectares. Niccolò lives in the original farmhouse and strives to make elegant wines that express where they are from, that are “traditional without being old”. With respect for the past and attention to future generations, protecting the environment and using organic methods is a key part to the estate [they are not currently certified organic].

Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG 2013
A lovely fruit forward Chianti with bright strawberry and cherry flavours, soft tannins and a plush finish.

‘Coppiole’ Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG Riserva 2008
Aged for 15-18 months in oak, Niccolò explained that 2008 was an “easy vintage” for the estate, therefore they used less oak, about 1/3 of the amount that they usually would use. Concentrated black cherry notes backed by tobacco and earth, a velvety finish of oak and cigar box spice.

Val di Botte

valdibotte

The vibrant and friendly Simone Pezzatini along with yours truly.

The Val di Botte estate consists of 30 hectares of vineyards located 20 km outside Florence. They strive to create a range of wines that are both affordable and of high-quality. The gregarious Simone Pezzatini presents the family estate’s wines; I greatly look forward to our engaging conversations and his insight into each wine’s character. After discussing the 2014 harvest with so many winemakers, I was ecstatic to see Simone brought a horizontal tasting of the estate’s 2014 vintage. It was fantastic to finally be able to give them a try!

‘Val di Botte’ Chianti DOCG 2014
Fermented and aged in stainless steel to preserve the vivid fruit flavours, jammy strawberry and black cherry over an earth and leather backdrop, easy black tea tannins on the dry finish. Refreshing and super easy drinking.

‘Val di Botte’ Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG 2014
Easy drinking at 14% Alcohol, grapes were sourced from vineyards with large stone soil similar to many Chianti Classico vineyards. A traditional Chianti expression of balanced fruit/earth/spice flavours. A wonderfully straightforward companion at the table.

‘Val di Botte’ Chianti Superiore DOCG 2014
The Superiore is a small production label sourced from a 7.5 hectare vineyard with high quality grapes. Elegant and lively, well balanced fruit/earth/spice and clean tannins make this incredibly versatile at the table.

Val di Botte’ Chianti Riserva DOCG 2010
Contrasting with its younger siblings, the 2010 Riserva displays notes of dense cherry and plum backed by forest floor and peppery spice. Finishing with velvety tannins toasted oak and hints of vanilla. This is a rich, quiet glass whose lush, yet well balanced flavours aren’t overpowering.

 

 

Media event hosted by Consorzio Vino Chianti