For more than 50 years the Sieni family has been making limited production wine in the Medieval hamlet of Montefioralle. One of the smallest Chianti Classico wineries, their wine continues to attract new fans.
In Chianti, Small Is Beautiful
It seems not a week goes by without news of a winery or brand being gobbled up by a massive international beverage company. Due to its mountainous terrain and political divides, profusion of different winemaking traditions and native grapes, Italy has avoided this. There are more than 1 million grape growers in Italy and the average holding is less than two-and-a-half acres.
That suits us fine. To us, small is beautiful. A case in point is Azienda Agricola Montefioralle, a family-run winery in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. Through the recent Wine Studio education program, we were able to learn about this Italian gem.
The winery has been run by the Sieni family since 1964, when Renato Sieni took over management of the vineyards that had been cared for by the local priests for centuries. Renato and son Fernando planted new grapevines and started production of a Chianti Classico wine called Santo Stefano a Montefioralle.
When the church administration gave up the vineyard in the 1990s, the Sieni family immediately bought it. Now Fernando’s oldest daughter, Alessia, is the owner of the estate and winery. Together with brother Lorenzo and Fernando, they manage the production of wine and olive oil.
The first harvest by the Sieni family was 1968. This year marks the 50th harvest for the winery!
The roots of Montefioralle go back to the Romans and the castle dates back to the year 931. The rule of the castle was controlled at different times by Florence and Sienna. The village of Montefioralle currently has about 70 inhabitants and the Sieni vineyard is about five acres.
A “Peculiarity Of The Soil”
Sangiovese is one of our favorite grapes and Chianti Classico is one of the best expressions of it. While Chianti can be produced anywhere in the Chianti zone, Chianti Classico is the historic heart of Chianti and became a separate appellation in 1996. Chianti Classico wines contain 80% to 100% Sangiovese and white grapes are excluded from the mix. Chianti Classico wines are emblazoned with the “black rooster” logo.
Wine producers in the Montefioralle knew that something was unique about their soil. This microclimate, a peculiarity of the soil, is what gives their Sangiovese a special character. The soil is rich in limestone and good drainage, forcing the roots deep underground. Geologists surmise that a glacier may be the reason why certain areas in the region have up to 50% rich, fertile loam soil.
We were able to try three Montefioralle wines:
The Vin Santo del C.C. 2014 is a dessert style wine that we paired with assorted fruit mini-cheesecakes. Vin Santo is made with grapes that have been dried to raisins. This concentrates the fruit sugar that will turn into alcohol. The pressed juice is put in small cherry wood barrels and allowed to ferment slowly.
The result is a delectable raisin nectar. At first we served this with a slight chill, but heeding the advice of the winemaker we gave it a more substantially chilling and that made the wine even more enjoyable. The colder temperature lessened the perception of high alcohol and allowed us to focus on the sweet, delicate flavors in this amber colored wine.
The Montefioralle Chianti Classico DOCG 2015 is primarily Sangiovese with small amounts of Canaiolo and Colorino. The wine is aged for a year in oak. It has a smooth body with sour cherry notes.
We enjoyed the Montefioralle Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2014 with a seafood cocktail of squid, mussels and shrimp over pasta. The Riserva gets two years of aging and a higher level of alcohol, but the tannins are surprisingly supple. There are delicious red fruit notes wrapped with hints of wood and spice. The finish is velvety. An outstanding wine that didn’t overpower our seafood dish!
The Montefioralle winery is small but mighty. It produces limited run, handcrafted lots of elegant wines. This is an ideal site for a visit – but if not the wines can be purchased online. Cheers!