In 1870, humble Tuscan sharecroppers Emilio and Tranquillo Losi were dutifully tending the adjacent Fontino and Querciavalle farms that would become the Querciavalle estate. At the time, the adjoining farms were covered with grains, beans, vines and olive trees and even during Italy’s “Mezzadria” (sharecropping) period, the Losi’s emphasized wine production.
When the sharecropping era began to wither, Tranquillo purchased both the Fontino and Querciavalle farms and merged them to become the Famiglia Losi Querciavalle Estate. In 1954, with tremendous foresight, Tranquillo hired enologist Tancredi Biondi Santi, modern day Father of Brunello, from whom he learned the art of winemaking. This was especially prescient given that at the time, most Chianti was sold off in bulk and not specifically targeted for quality wine production. Today, the estate covers 50 hectares in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga.
It has been a while since I updated my tastings of the wonderful wines from the Losi family so recently, when Valeria was making her way through town, we got together for a casual lunch to enjoy some of her recent releases. The setting was a quiet, quaint trattoria called Monte’s in New York’s west village. Several dishes were sampled along with the wines including a mixed, hot antipasto, succulent plin filled with veal ragu in sage butter and grilled lamb chops with rosemary and polenta. The wines excelled. Castelnuovo is one of my favorite communes for producing Chianti Classico and the wines from Querciavalle represent the terroir admirably.
We began with the hot antipasto and the current release of the family’s Chianti Classico.
The 2013 Querciavalle Chianti Classico is a blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo. Deep ruby in the glass, it’s a classic color. It’s a few years old obviously, and while many wineries are releasing their 2015, the Losis hold their wines longer before release. You can note a slight copper ring around the bowl. There are lots of crushed cherry and Tuscan herbs on the nose. Very fresh and persistent. As the wine opens powdered white road dust and lavender notes emerge. Fresh & lively on the palate. Juicy, with good medium body and balanced acidity. the ripe core of cherry fruit is accented with tobacco and delicate mushroom notes with soft wood undertones. Long, smooth finish with notes of fennel seed. After fermentation in stainless steel, the Losis use 53 hectoliter barrels to age their Chianti Classico for about 18 months and then the wine rests 6 to 8 months in the bottle before release. Wonderful Chianti Classico. 88 points, about $19. Find this wine.
Next up was the Gran Selezione that we enjoyed with the plin (Piedmontese style tiny ravioli) and the grilled lamb chops. Simply put, this was an exceptional wine.
The 2010 Querciavalle Chianti Classico Gran Selezione is the current release. From a superb vintage, this wine is drinking gloriously at 8 years of age. Aged for 3 full years in barrel and up to an additional year in bottle, the regimen is identical to that of Brunello. Not a surprise, if you refer back to my opening paragraph. The vines for the Gran Selezione are almost 50 years old.
Darker still. Gorgeous color. Reminiscent of Brunello with its deep ruby center and iodine colored rings. It has a lovely powdery, crushed berry smell. Comprised of 90% Sangiovese, the balance is 5% Canaiolo and 5% Malvasia Nera. Lots of black plums and red cherries on the nose. Hints of licorice. Traces of shale. Oh my. Massive on the palate! Loaded with cherries, crushed black plums, dark chocolate and hints of sweet tobacco. Powdered earth. Silky smooth. It’s almost impossible to tell there are tannins here because they are so well integrated. I absolutely love this. 96 points. Not yet available.