Grape(s): 95% Sangiovese, Colorino, Canaiolo
Localization: Chianti Classico, Chianti, Tuscany, Italy
Tasting Notes: Ruby red tending towards garnet. Rich, intense, and complex with notes of black cherry and spice. Full-bodied with rich red berry fruit flavors complimenting a backbone of tannin.
Food pairing: Open in advance and allowed to breathe. Decanting is preferable. An exceptional complement to red meats, roasts and game.
95 points James Suckling: Lots of ripe cherries and berries with undergrowth and mushroom undertones, as well as ash. It’s full-bodied with round, creamy tannins and a medium-chewy finish. A solid Chianti Classico here. Give it a year or two to soften. Real deal.
The Domain: The Castello di Monsanto estate was established by Fabrizio Bianchi in the hillsides of Barberino Val d’Elsa in the province of Florence in the north-central reaches of the Chianti Classico denomination. Bianchi worked to clear a vineyard he named “Il Poggio” (“The Hill”), which would be utilized for the production of a single vineyard wine riserva, the first example in Chianti Classico. Always the pioneer, Bianchi began to eliminate the white varieties, Malvasia and Trebbiano, from his Chianti Classico in 1968, preferring to use only the traditional red varieties of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Colorino.
Cellar innovations in the early years included Slovenian casks for aging, instead of old chestnut barrels, as well as the introduction of stainless steel tanks for fermentation. Furthermore, Castello di Monsanto harvested the first 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, ‘Nemo,’ from the ‘Il Mulino’ vineyard. Today, the Monsanto estate totals 500 acres, of which slightly more than half are woods, while olive orchards occupy an additional 37 acres. Vineyards, situated between 800 and 1,000 feet above sea level, account for 175 acres. Three-quarters of the plantings are Sangiovese, the basis for Chianti Classico, while Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the next most widely planted varieties.
One of the most impressive components of Castello di Monsanto is the cellar and its underground tunnel, some 820 feet in length that serves as an aging cellar as well for a potential total of 1,500 barriques. This cave system, one of the most dazzling in all of Italy, took six years to build by hand. The gallery, connecting the new cellar with the original, is located underneath the castle and dates back to 1740.
Today, Fabrizio Bianchi and his daughter, Laura, represent the tradition and elegance that have been associated with the estate throughout its existence. “Il Poggio” was not just an innovation back in 1962; it truly represented a new vision for Chianti Classico. Today, each new vintage is eagerly anticipated as one of the very best bottlings of this wine type.
Each of the wines of Castello di Monsanto, from the award-winning Chianti Classico Riserva, to ‘Nemo’, a Super Tuscan, to the lush and exotic Vin Santo ‘La Chimera’, are true Tuscan treasures. Simply what you would expect from Castello di Monsanto, the grand jewel in the heart of Tuscany.