Last night we were graced with a visit from one of Italy’s best winemakers (and finest gentlemen), Giovanni Manetti of Chianti’s Fontodi. Fontodi has been a benchmark Tuscan producer for years - one of the small number of estates that gets credit for resurrecting Chianti Classico from years of mediocrity. And, Giovanni’s wines have long been personal favorites at our house. Fontodi is also one of the rare estates in the wine world that is both fully organic and self-sustainable. For example, Giovanni grows corn and hay to feed his small herd of cattle which provide both the raw material for his organic fertilizer and fine steaks for the family table.
Because many of Fontodi’s newest releases won’t reach the US for another month or so, last night’s tasting featured several wines from the great 2006 vintage, several older vintages, and a first look at the soon-to-be-released flagship wine, Flaccianello 2007. All of the wines tasted last night are available at special pre-arrival prices for orders received by next Wednesday. We’ll be carrying Fontodi’s 2007 Chianti Classico and Syrah (not tasted last night) as well as the 2001 Vin Santo and, of course, Flaccianello 2007, so this isn’t your only chance to get those. But, this is your only chance to grab some of the stunning older vintages and the best pricing you’ll see on the 2007s.
So, with that in mind, here are some brief highlights of the tasting along with pre-arrival pricing.
2006 Fontodi Pinot Nero Via -- drinking beautifully now with bright cherry fruit and lovely spice and floral notes. Giovanni planted this small plot of Pinot in the coolest part of his vineyard and gets amazing freshness and complexity for a grape that probably shouldn’t be in Tuscany at all. A gem.
Reg. $78.99 Six Bottles Solid $56.98/ea 12 Bottles Solid $52.98/ea
2006 Fontodi Chianti Classico - still a very young wine, this shows the muscular structure, concentration, and dark fruit typical of Tuscany’s 2006 vintage. Needs time.
Reg. $36.99 Bottle $32.98 Six Bottles Solid $29.98/ea 12 Bottles Solid $27.98/ea
2006 Fontodi Chianti Classico Riserva Cru Sorbo - very young and a little closed, it’s easy to see why this got such big scores in the press. Dark, deep, and showing a little wood now and just a touch of the 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Reg. $87.99 Bottle $74.98 Six Bottles Solid $69.98/ea 12 Bottles Solid $64.98/ea
2000 Fontodi Chianti Classico Riserva Cru Sorbo - at 10 years old, this is starting to develop some tertiary character but still has fantastic fresh fruit in the mid-palate and on the finish. The ripe tannins make this perfect for rich meat dishes, and there’s loads of complexity from the dash of Cab. Outstanding.
Reg. $82.9 Six Bottles Solid $65.98/ea 12 Bottles Solid $59.98/ea
2007 Fontodi Flaccianello - Wow. Tasting this last night and talking with Giovanni really helped me nail down my understanding of the 2007 vintage in Tuscany. I’ve now had about 10 top quality 2007s from different producers, and the theme of the vintage is perfect ripeness, balance, and approachability. The 2006s are more muscular, with stronger tannins and much darker fruit. Giovanni explained that ripeness in 2007 was identical to 2006 and that tannin levels are actually the same, too. But, the rock-steady, perfect, September weather in 2007 gave silky, fragrant, and easy-to-drink wines that still have enough phenolic material to age. This is going to be a fantastic vintage for people who want to be able to enjoy the wines they buy right away and over the course of cellaring.
The wine? Stunning. After an hour of air, the aromas of the 2007 Flaccianello soared from the glass - a wine everyone sniffed, sniffed, and sniffed again. In the mouth, very young but already beautiful and marked by incredible freshness in the dense, delicious, fruit. I suspect the press will not award this the same 99 points earned by the denser, more obviously powerful, 2006, but I also suspect that the 2007 will ultimately give drinkers more pleasure. Great wine.
Reg $134.99 Bottle $114.98 Six Bottles Solid $104.98/ea 12 Bottles Solid $96.98/ea
2000 Fontodi Flaccianello - Mellowed and showing well, the 2000 features some balsamic notes to complement the dark cherry fruit. Delicious and drinking now (although I might not want to go more than another 5 years).
Reg $132.99 12 Bottles Solid $94.98/ea
2000 Fontodi Syrah - For many, the wine of the tasting - but you’ve got to like Syrah. This showed smoke, meat, forest floor, and ripe floral aromatics and then super-silky red plum, spice, meat and more smoke flavors. As I’ve said before, in my opinion, this is one of the world’s great Syrahs, marrying fruit and concentration found in the best California Syrah with the complexity, weight, and aromatics seen in the Northern Rhone. A remarkable wine already in its sweet spot for drinking but with another 5+ years of joy in front of it.
Reg $81.99 12 Bottles Solid $59.98/ea
2001 Fontodi Vin Santo (375ml) - Event better than the stunning 1999 and possibly the best Vin Santo made in Italy. There’s loads of sweet, fresh, fruit to go with the candied nut and spice elements, but the finish on this thing is amazing - crystal clear and clean, it leaves you with an impression of ripe fruit and no lingering sweetness.
Reg $96.99 Bottle $79.98 Six Bottles Solid $69.98/ea 12 Bottles Solid $59.98/ea
In addition to the wines we tasted, here are the other 2007s available for pre-order:
2007 Fontodi Chianti Classico - This is going to be great Chianti and will drink well young.
Reg. $36.99 Bottle $34.98 Six Bottles Solid $31.98/ea 12 Bottles Solid $29.98/ea
2007 Fontodi Chianti Classico Riserva Cru Sorbo - Certain to be majestic
Reg. $86.99 Six Bottles Solid $67.98/ea 12 Bottles Solid $61.98/ea
2007 Fontodi Syrah - Always delicious, elegant, and complex.
Reg $86.99 Six Bottles Solid $67.98/ea 12 Bottles Solid $61.98/ea
If you’re interested in any of these wines, please just let me know by calling 703.356.6500 or emailing me at doug.house@ cecileswine.com.