At 570 meters above sea level this South East-facing vineyard is the highest on the Monteraponi estate, indeed one of the very highest in Chianti Classico. The soils are intensely rocky and poor - this is pure hard limestone, known locally as Albarese. In the very best vintages the juice from the Baron d’Ugo vineyard is fermented separately and aged in large French and Slavonian oak casks for 36 months. The extremities of climate and soil are clear in this wine, it is a Chianti Classico that needs time to open up. Surly at first, the brilliant character of this wine does gradually unfurl with aeration, exhibiting very intense flavours of cherry, cherry stone, plums, dry stones, rock, salt and flint. Long, vital and expansive. Like the greatest of wines there is a sense of huge strength without turning to heaviness.
The Chianti farmhouse of Monteraponi, an ancient medieval hamlet, situated on the hill of the same name, once belonged to Baron Ugo, Marquis of Tuscany in the tenth century. It was not until 2003, however, that current owner Michele Braganti produced and commercialised the estate’s own bottlings. The vineyard had been in family hands since 1974 but the fruit was previously sold off to other growers. The vineyard area, all in the commune of Radda in Chianti Classico, spans 10 hectares. The wines are planted as high as 570 meters above sea level, some of the very highest in the Chianti Classico, on a mixture of hard Albarese and softer Galestro limestone soils. The wines are made in a traditional, low tech and gentle way. After hand harvesting and gentle pressing, spontaneous fermentation is carried out in cement vats where it continues to macerate and infuse with the skins for a further 25 days. The wine is then racked off into large used French and Slavonian oak casks for between 14-36 months of ageing depending on the cuvee, bottling then takes place without fining or filtration. These are some of Chianti Classico’s most exciting, vivid and age worthy wines. Still a relatively young project, it already seems as if Monteraponi and their brilliant wines have the ability to elevate the reputation of the Chianti Classico as a whole.
Chianti Classico is a DOCG protected appelation in Tuscany, central Italy. The more generic Chianti DOCG covers a large area of vineyard and has a somewhat tumultuous history with quality proving inconsistent and hard to regulate over a wide area. While many great wines can be found here, Chianti Classico was established to demarcate the original Chianti zone, dating back to 1716, and which it is believed offers the ideal growing conditions for Sangiovese. In order for the wines to qualify as the superior Classico, they are also tasted and assessed by the local Consorzio and those wines not up to scratch are designated as straight Chianti. The most elegant wines tend to come from higher altitude sites around villages such as Radda and Castellina.