To really understand a river’s work you sometimes have to walk both of its banks. You need to experience an ambling along the right, then the left and only then can you get a sense of what it means to be a river. How it matters to split a stretch of geography and to render the two halves as adversaries but also partners. A morning visit to Podere Campriano followed by an afternoon hang at Azienda Agricola Montefioralle aptly demonstrates two apposite and contrasting styles of Chianti Classico sangiovese. All part of a day’s work in the meanderings around Greve in Chianti.
Related – Chianti Classico’s Canadian dream
This time last year I wrote about Chianti Classico’s famous flow, which along with i fiumi Arbia and Pesa are the liquid lifelines of the territory. In that piece I said “the Greve River (fiume Greve) is a 43 kilometre slide of twists, turns, switchbacks, rises, falls and settles into floodplains. It’s origins are upon Monte Querciabella in Radda, north of Volpaia, southwest of Badaccia a Monetmuro and southeast of Lamole. Heading swiftly northwest it then crests as a flat flood plain between Panzano and Greve, known as the Piano di Montagliari. Continuing north it slices the village of Greve in Chianti and along Strada 222 past Villa Calcinaia, Verrazzano and Vicchiomaggio. It eventually spills into the Arno River at Firenze.”
Related – A river runs through Greve
That crested plain is a stretch that separates two essential Greve growing spits, Montefioralle on the west and the hill occupied by Podere Campriano on the right, also home to a sub-frazione known as Alta Valle della Greve. These contrasting micro-terroirs are worth an introspective look, if only to gain some perspective on how sangiovese can differ so much with only a few kilometres of separation, two banks of a river, the aspect and angles of hills and the composition of soils. Only and yet so diagnostic in the assessment of wines produced.
“The sangiovese is the best way to represent the territory.”
Campriano’s mostly west and southwest facing vineyards on some of Chianti Classico’s and certainly Greve’s steepest slopes gather a great accumulation of afternoon sun and yet the overall temperatures are lower than Montefioralle. From the sandy soils with great Galestro prevalence on the steep, east bank of the Greve River. Similar soil profile as Montefioralle (albeit with less true clay) across on the west bank but the weather is so different; less humidity, more diurnal temperature fluctuations but also extreme conditions.
Their’s are Alta Valle della Greve sangiovese of unparalleled cumulative phenolics, richly aromatic and sturdy with the best of the ilk. The total annual production is 13,000-15,000 bottles with an emphasis on the signature CC grape variety. “The sangiovese is the best way to represent the territory,” states Elena Lapini with a shrug of authority. Her cuisine is meant to accentuate her family’s varietal love. Pici con Salsiccia e Funghi, Finnochiona, Coppa con cannella, Prosciutto e Pancetta.
Montefioralle is close to Castello di Montefioralle, southwest of Greve and south of Greti. The hamlet has 79 residents and sits at an elevation of 352 meters. The zonazione is home to the Associazione Viticoltori Montefioralle of 14 producers. The terroir in Montefioralle is indeed mostly calcareous clay, with sand and in some cases, outcrops of “compresso indifferenziato argille scagliose,” part schisty calcaire with less instances of Galestro or Alberese and more Macigno. Once again yet another micro-territory in Chianti Classico to be considered for menzione geographiche aggiuntive.
At Azienda Agricola Montefioralle Lorenzo Sieni pours his heart and soul into the tiniest of productions, at least by Chianti Classico standards, which as a whole is not exactly or overtly commercial on any grand scale. Lorenzo’s passion project is also a community’s but there is still much to figure out. He tells us “I know what to expect from my (and my father Fernando’s) Annata and my Riserva but it’s still unknown for Gran Selezione. Greve may get some fog but here it can be three or four degrees warmer, day after day. I started when I was born. But this is a side business for me.”
Podere Campriano, Greve in Chianti
From the sandy soils with great Galestro prevalence on the steep, east bank of the Greve River. Same soil profile as Montefioralle across on the west bank but the weather is so different; less humidity, more diurnal temperature fluctuations but also extreme conditions. Never easy to farm here and the wines are proficiently perfumed. Simple and never boring, of purity and nuance by land that can’t help but speak to all that it has to say. The texture is one of softness, caressing and really just pure speciality in delight. Finesse and delicasse. Drink 2018-2023. Tasted September 2018 poderecampriano @ElenaCampriano Elena Podere Campriano Lapini(Podere Campriano ) Elena Lapini
Varietal is the populist notion once again, as only a solo act, out of a purity by one hundred per cent sangiovese. From land once covered in forest, of a magically, or eerily a same soil profile as the other Greve in Chianti bank, sandy and rich in Galestro. The Riserva profile gives this more depth and even a certain next level of extraction, but it’s more about fruit-earth-rock layering and variegation. What comes from this side of the tracks is spice interwoven through dusty and bushy aromatics and then, the liquid palate texture derived from the rendering of that spice. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted September 2018
Just put to market, the vintage will surely have so much to say and that it in fact already does, with a combination of perfume and spice. Still dusty, with fennel and endemic herbs, teas and brushy plants. There’s a raspberry to dried currant fruitiness that ’14 doesn’t have, also more mid-palate flesh and overall juiciness. A different sort of structure, still with long capabilities but will likely go into a drier fruit profile after the seven year mark. Elena Lapini is a very busy agriturismo and viticoltore proprietor these days and if these most recent 100 per cent sangiovese from two sides of the Greve river tracks are any indication, she’ll be busier than ever before. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted September 2018
From Elena Lapini’s grandfather’s 1980 planted vines, a “table wine” that is 100 per cent sangiovese from those 35 year-old vines. It’s on the fruity spectrum while coming from roots burrowed deep into the Galestro. A serious, intense, wise and composed sangiovese, with more mid-palate liqueur and viscosity. This could technically be classified as Gran Selezione, like Carobbio’s Leone (as an example), but that just might confuse. And so by 2015 it may be labeled Riserva, a second Riserva. Or perhaps further down the road with a dozen archetypal others and come back to the appellation with a mention of Alta Greve in tow. Who’s to say? Drink 2019-2025. Tasted September 2018
Azienda Agricola Montefioralle, Montefioralle-Greve in Chianti
Harvested at the end of September from the warmest and most gracious gifting vintage. Stock in colour may be unnecessary but oh so beautiful this one, deeply hued, rendered of a purple that’s really just perfect. Grace in acidity meets depth of fruit and such polish. There is nothing rustic about this and yet the perfumed meets spice profile is exacting and pure for this Montefioralle terroir, which incidentally is three hectares of planted vineyards. Silk in sangiovese, honest and pure. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted September 2018 montefioralle @MontefioralleWi @ @montefioralle Lorenzo Sieni @viticoltorimontefioralle
“The year, in my opinion, was too hot,” explains Lorenzo Sieni. “We don’t have perfect tannin in this vintage.” At least not for the Annata made from younger vines. More than one year in bottle now, still nervy but the levels of phenolic ripeness and juiciness are exceptional. More firmly structured than many ‘15s because of the place, the altitude and the solar exposure. Striking acidity brings about the balance. Drink 2019-2024. Last tasted September 2018
Perhaps this vintage is necessary to gain an understanding of Montefioralle or perhaps it was always there and a connection just needed to be found. The inhalant of elemental abstraction is remarkable and singular so let us open the discussion about the interest and in fact the necessity for Montefioralle. Just gorgeous from a fruit perspective, dusty and rising in tone with breaches considered and levels touched but never crossed. The risks are many with the rewards justified, palpable and great potential comes as a result. Check out Montefioralle. This tells you why. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted February 2018
So very young and powerful, just a few months in bottle. Primary and beautifully perfumed with the liquified deep fruit chalk of the frazioni and a hit of exotic spice. An intensity that ’14 just did not show and the polish we know to be the kind mastered out of Montefioralle by this passion project house. The liqueur is again one of textured silk, a viscosity to nearing the vanishing point of glück and in the end, total domination. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted September 2018
“The only way to increase the quality was to decrease the quantity,” is Lorenzo Sieni’s explanation of the vintage. Plenty of cutting (40 per cent) led to 1,800 bottles produced, “but I’m very proud of the result.” True liqueur and it’s actually begun to show some secondary character, dried fruit and a hint of porcini and such, certainly not typical but that was this vintage. Intense perfume, high liqueur, incense, peppermint and smells of salons and apothecaries. A wild Riserva ride. Drink 2018-2022. Last tasted September 2018
Montefioralle is a deeply felt sensation of sangiovese preservation bringing everything that is Montefioralle within Greve with power and grace. Such fruit wealth is remarkable for 2014, distinct from its geological birthing and powerful to the end. Oh how this celebrates a zone within a zone. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted February 2018
From trebbiano and malvasia at a sugar content of 129 g/L, soft, lighter, in balance with its acidity. Nothing heavy or cloying, noting peaches and apricots, perfect for a bite of biscotti. Only three years of aging, the minimum, for a light and fresh VinSanto. Thanks to Carlo in his element inside the Vinsantaia. Drink 2018-2022. Tasted September 2018
Good to go!