Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Finally, sangiovese that I like. A first time experience with Montevertine


I have heard tell that as it relates to really good, genuine, true school, real producers based in Chianti, there is now only one name: Montevertine. Granted, now that I think about it these words might have first registered while reading Reflections of a Wine Merchant by Neal Rosenthal, the gentleman who imports Montevertine. So yes, he may be necessarily biased, but the fact remains that I have not been as excited about any other wine from Chianti in a long, long time.

What I first noticed about the 2006 Montevertine IGT Toscano Pian del Ciampolo was the beautiful, translucent ruby color. It reminded me of a Cerasuolo di Vittoria, a young poulsard, or any other similarly bright colored, lighter vibrant style of wine. After nosing the wine, my hopes were confirmed: this would be young sangiovese the way I like it. Floral (really floral), red fruited, refreshing, slightly earthy, crunchy. None of the astringent, puckery tannins or lack of freshness that most of the sangiovese based wines I taste often show. Interestingly enough, I preferred drinking this wine on its own, as opposed to with my pasta dinner (wine without food, a decidedly un-Italian notion, I know). It probably had something to do with the tomato sauce, which always makes for tricky wine and food compatibility. That wine though! What a terrific bottle. I think I paid about $25 for it. Some specs on the wine: 90% sangioveto, 5% canaiolo, 5% colorino. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentations are in cement vats, followed by 18 months in used slavonian oak barrels. Hand harvested, gravity flow winery, non filtered, etc, etc. Git some!

7 comments:

saignee said...

I have a similiar probhlem with sangiovese. After enough crap srved with every type of pasta imaginable i just gave up on wasting my money on something i feel people around the world drink more out of tradition than whether it works or not. However Rosenthal always manages to find gems from places either unknown, or so oversaturated they have become cliche (speaking of cliche, hello third thursday) so i will check it out. Who is selling it?

Steve L. said...

It's amazing: great swathes of historically renowned wine growing regions now considered unappealing in their entirety to a (growing?) number of wine drinkers. The last time I bought a bottle of Chianti? Bordeaux? Anything from Napa? I can't even remember. Of course, my taste is not everyone's.

Joe Manekin said...

Saignee - I bought my bottle at Vintage Berkeley. I would assume that some other shops in the area carry it though.

Steve - interesting point, though often times it seems more an issue with serious wine drinkers and people in the trade. Nevertheless, regions like Bdx and Chianti are always hung up on losing market share to other areas, since they produce so much and really need to sell a lot of wine. I cannot imagine that Burgundy, Jura and quality oriented Loire producers (just to name a few popular areas amongst savvy wine drinkers) are as pre-occupied with the market. Wine for wine's sake seems to drive production in these areas. And - surprise, surprise, the overall quality is higher.

Brooklynguy said...

i love pian del ciampolo too. know what's weird, though? the "higher level" wines of montevertine are not as much to my liking. maybe it's simply be the wood treatments they receive. who understands this whole wine thing, anyway...

by the way, my word verification is "twify." good stuff.

Joe Manekin said...

Neil -

'Twify?' The possibilities for witty definitions are endless....
You know, I'm going to venture to say that any quality producer who makes both 'regular' and 'fancier' i.e. more expensive bottlings (with the exception of champagne and burgundy) you'll like the regular bottling. My preferences run the same way.

David McDuff said...

Joe and Neil,
I strongly encourage you both to explore the wines of Isole e Olena if you haven't already done so. The regular Chianti Classico is a fine and elegant expression of Sangiovese. While their special bottling, Cepparello, does see more wood, it wears it well and is no less finessed.

Joe Manekin said...

Thanks for the rec, David. I think I had Isola e Olena CC a while ago, when I was first starting to drink wine and pay more serious attention. Needless to say, I do not remember the experience all that well. Typically I enjoy Felsina's wines, other than that no other wines I like from Chianti come to mind.