What We Say 2006 Chianti Classico Riserva D.O.C.G.
EXCEPTIONAL WINE ALERT:
Today’s Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG is one of the best Chianti that we’ve tasted this year. An exceptional wine that has all the rustic and lively fruit that you’d expect and the addition of a little Cab and Merlot balances everything out perfectly.
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Mission Codename: Lucky Horseshoe
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Acquire an exclusive allocation of an exceptional Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Fattoria Le Fonti
Wine Subject: 2006 Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG
Winemaker: Vicky Schmitt-Vitali
Chianti Classico DOCG is produced in one of the eight sub-regions in the Chianti region. This one hales from the Panzano In Chianti commune located about halfway between Florence and Sienna, a region known for having among the finest Chianti made. The DOCG requires that these wines range from 75-100% Sangiovese grapes and often is blended with Caniolo Nero, Trebbiano, Malvasia or Cabernet Sauvignon (regular Chianti is limited to no more than 90% Sangiovese).
This Chianti Classico DOCG is mostly Sangiovese with a little Cabernet and Merlot blended for good measure, and while is still considered youthful, is drinking wonderfully right now and has exceptional cellar potential. The finest Chianti Classico, such as this one, can age gracefully for up to 20 years and are also among the funnest food wines from Italy.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dense and dark garnet and purple with a clear dense heart and garnet-red edges. When swirled widely spaced long thin legs streak down the edge of the glass and are followed by slower legs that hang before creeping down the glass.
Smell – Rich aromas of spiced black and red-fruit are balanced over a complex woody and oaky component. Wild anise blends with a hint of herbaceousness and with a touch of pungent and hot spices.
Feel – Very smooth, and while youthful, this well developed wine is dry, expansive and warm in its attack, full-bodied wine has fine but firm tannins, lively acidity and a touch of minerality to add to its complexity.
Taste – Great balance between its red (cherry and ripe plum) and black fruits (blackberry) with hints of toasted and complex oak that doesn’t overpower but is still quite present along with a touch of hot exotic spice. Layers of vanilla, toast, wild anise along with herbal and mineral components linger.
Finish – Extremely long and smooth and clean with tightly woven tannins and acidity grasping the fruit, oak and spice for several minutes.
Conclusion – The 2006 Fattoria Le Fonti Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG is an exceptional old-world classic with all the elegance and finesse of some of the ‘Big Brother’ wines of the region. The addition of some Cabernet and Merlot adds a balance and smoothness to the lively fruit of the Sangiovese. A solid oak note and other complex aromas and flavors makes this wine perfect with rich Italian food. Youthful still, but drinking very well right now – let it breathe for a half hour or so. (We don’t think you need to wait until 2013 as Decanter does.) One of the top Chianti’s we’ve tasted this year.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Vicky Schmitt-Vitali, born in Germany in June 1973, education in Switzerland, England and France before moving to Italy.
WINE EDUCATION: Mostly “learning by doing” paired with many courses on various subjects of winemaking & vineyards in different European countries and wine regions. – and a lot of tasting and listening to others.
WINE JOB BRIEF: Everything – we are a small family winery. And everything needs to be done by ourselves (and by everything I mean everything – office, cellar, vineyard, bottling, tasting with tourists…)
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Winemaking needs passion and love and some room for trial and error to find out exactly what you want and how you are going to get there.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Life is too short to drink bad wine”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE:March 2001
AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Vicky. We are thrilled to be showing your Chianti Classico Riserva 2006 today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
VICKY: My pleasure – it is always wonderful for a tiny winery like ours to get noticed abroad.
WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your
love of wine?
VICKY: My father was and still is greatly passionate about wines and taught all of us children from an early age about wines from all over the world, but I did not quite understand how difficult it could be in fact to make really good wine. Winemaking I only really started to understand and learn about when my father started living out his dream of making his own wine in the early 90s’ here in Italy. At first I only joined him for harvest and wine fairs, but then something clicked and the puzzle fell into place.
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
VICKY: There is a collection of wines from different countries that really move me and get me excited every time I try them. But I also know that I never will be able to make a great Pinot Noir or white wine here in my area with this soil, so I stick to those that grow best on my terrain. Sangiovese can be quite difficult and at the same time can give you so much satisfaction and different tastes that it is quite wonderful to work with. For Sangiovese I like the opposites one can get from this great grape – the hint of spices to the fruity blackberries and cherries all paired with the necessary acidity to make you ask for more. For Sangiovese wines from our area I admire many styles like the almost pale, elegant Chianti Classico of Paolo de Marchi (Isole Olena) compared to the still elegant but powerful big Sangiovese in Giovanni Mannetti’s Flaccianello (Fontodi).
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
VICKY: My family & friends – and anyone who loves great Chianti’s.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
VICKY: The Chianti Classico Riserva 2006 is all I want in a Riserva – big yet elegant, blackberries and cherries without being a fruitbomb and enough acidity to make me yearn for more but with enough bite to excel its taste when pairing with food. It gets the first selection of all grapes for its blend and is aged for nearly two years in French oak barrels of medium size (new and 2 year old barrels). With the 2006 Riserva we are reverting to our old style of Riserva adding a little bit of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to the Sangiovese (only about 6-7% in total for the two additions). *(03 to 05 we only added a bit of Merlot which was initially satisfying because the wine matured faster and was well received with many clients, but in the long term did not give me the same pleasure as with a hint of Cabernet S added).
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
VICKY: Personally I love a good roast or steak with my Riserva. Wild boar stew and many game dishes also taste incredibly well with the Chianti Classico. If you like cheeses, try a selection of young and aged Pecorino cheeses with it – quite delicious.
WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the Chianti Classico so special?
VICKY: The Chianti Classico region is one of the oldest winemaking regions in Italy but for a long time had been neglected and degraded to low quality wines. In the past 20 years, Chianti Classico has seen a huge revival and new plantings and better winemaking have brought the wines back from the dead. Still there is a huge variety of wines even in my own neighborhood, but nowhere else does Sangiovese taste like in Tuscany and especially Chianti Classico.
We are about 300 Chianti Classico wineries, big and small, in this region all making a wine based on Sangiovese. But each of us makes it slightly different, if 100% Sangiovese or with other grapes added (be it Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or one of the old indigenous ones like Canaiolo, Ciliegino, etc) or using different barrels for the aging. – there is such a wide variety out there that there is a wine for everyone and it is always exciting to taste the new vintages again the year afterwards since no year is ever the same. And no matter what style or quality – you will always be able to tell that it is a Sangiovese from the Chianti Classico area.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
VICKY: The imminent harvest – in another 4-6 days we will be ready to start with the Merlot before going over to the Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. Harvest is always a busy period for which we have worked hard all year preparing. Keep your fingers crossed for more good weather so we can get everything in safely.
WHITE: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in
VICKY: There is no right or wrong – just drink what you like! The saying “Life is too short to drink bad wine” is so true but most people don’t adhere to it. They don’t eat food they don’t like, but with wine most people are scared or think they dont know enough and often drink something they don’t really like just because they bought it or got influenced by scores. As with food tastes vary and so be bold and try as much as you possibly can and enjoy those that you really like and don’t drink up the ones you did not like – life is really too short for bad stuff.
WHITE: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
VICKY: :-) just enjoy wine – don’t make it a stressful enterprise with which vintage is right or wrong, just try and enjoy when you find something you like. And don’t always wait for a special occasion – every day is special in itself!
WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Fattoria Le Fonti can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Fattoria Le Fonti
Awards & Accolades:
4 Stars & Highly Recommended – Decanter Magazine – Oaky, medicinal and menthol nose with cooked fruits. Full, ripe, fleshy cherries and stewed plums. Huge new oak and tannins, but plenty of rich fruit underneath. Freshy and flashy, but seriously good. From 2013.
Top 10 Riservas of the 2006 Vintage – Italian Sommelier Magazine
About This Wine:
Le Fonti Chianti Classico Riserva is characterized by a deep ruby red color and aromas of black cherry, blackberry, caramel cream, and cinnamon spice. It has a long, black fruit finish, good fresh acid, and cat’s tongue tannins.
The Riserva Chianti Classico persuades through elegance and finesse. Sangiovese by heart with a little addition of Merlot, this wine ages for almost two years in French oak barrels before being bottled and aged for further 6-9 months on the bottle before release. The longer aging helps the wine to gain structure and longevity and makes it an ideal partner for any festive meal.
About The Winery:
Halfway between Florence and Siena, in the heart of the Chianti Classico region, lies the small village of Panzano. Just below the village church, at 450 m above sea level, is the Fattoria Le Fonti. Since 1994, the Schmitt-Vitali family has replanted all of the vineyards, taking great care in selecting the right type of plant with the correct root stock; and renovated the cellars, incorporating the latest technology to help them make better and longer lasting wines. The fattoria is small and completely family-run, employing only a couple of outside workers, and they depend on family manpower and taste from the harvest to the final blend. For expert consultation and knowledge, they call on the consultant enologist Dr. Stefano Chioccioli. Le Fonti’s small size and dedicated family involvement allow for meticulous care of the vineyard, ensuring that only the best fruits reach the cellar and only the finest blends get bottled in the end.
About The Vineyards:
Le Fonti’s vineyards are situated just below the village of Panzano, resembling a horseshoe-shape around the winery. Since 1994 all the vineyards have been replanted with selected rootstocks and plants adapted to our area, elevation and soil type.
The vineyards are farmed sustainably to save the integrity of the environment. We strongly believe that a great wine starts in the vineyard and thus take meticulous care of our vines and select only the best grapes for the cellar.
The vineyards are planted on a mixed soil of gravel, schist, limestone, sand and clay – a soil mixture also known as Galestro. The composition of soil differs throughout the property and our vines are planted to use this to their best advantage.
The Merlot vineyard, for example, is in a place where we used to have Sangiovese but due to the high content of clay and sand this soil made the growing of Sangiovese often difficult and the grapes suffered especially after heavy rains. For the Merlot in the same spot these problems are almost non-existent and it proved to be an excellent choice to let nature help itself.
Overall we have almost 85% Sangiovese vines, with the remainder equally divided between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines.
Varietals: Sangiovese with small additions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
Vineyard: Panzano In Chianti
Aging: Aged in new and used French tonneaux for 18 months, then further bottle aging