Tenuta Sette Ponti lies on historic land in the heart of the Chianti zone at the end of the Via del Monte; known locally as the Via di Sette Ponti. The estate is aptly named for the seven medieval bridges that cross the Arno River on the road from Arezzo to Florence. Owner and Entrepreneur Antonio Moretti has steadfastly transformed this 750-acre estate into a multifaceted farm that has become one of Tuscany’s most innovative, quality-driven producers. This determination is manifested in Antonio’s actions which he explained to me simply: “You cannot live only of wine”; for he knows and respects the Italian culture cannot be restricted simply to the harvest of fruit; but also grains, cheese and produce that must be served alongside the wine. For this reason, he strives to produce wines of elegance that marry well at the table. Recently, we spotlighted his newest endeavor on the coast of Tuscany, Tenuta Orma. Today, we’re discussing the newest wine from Sette Ponti.
The Vigna dell’Impero, or Empire’s Vineyard, was planted in 1935 by Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia, the Count of Turin to commemorate and celebrate Italy’s victory at the battle of Abissinia. The entire vineyard was planted by hand on terraced slopes and consists solely of Sangiovese. Today the vines are approaching 83 years of age and extend for only 3 1/2 hectares. Only the best selection is made for Vigna dell’Impero while the balance of grapes not destined for this bottling can be used in the estate’s Crognolo.
Despite the fact that this vineyard has been planted since 1935, the wine we’re discussing today has only been produced twice; in 2012 and 2013. It is held out as being one of Italy’s most prestigious vineyards, though I’m lead to believe this distinction is of the historical, rather than vinous sense.
Montalcino not withstanding, 2012 was generally a weaker vintage across much of Tuscany. The vintage was marked by extremes in weather that reduced yields dramatically and effected the size and physiological ripeness of many Sangiovese vineyards. A very cold winter was followed by an unusually hot and dry summer, potentially resulting in a perfect meteorological storm for creating linear, austere wines.
The 2012 Sette Ponti Vigna dell’Impero is 100% Sangiovese. After vinification in stainless steel, the wine was aged in a combination of 15-25 hectoliter barrels for 24 months followed by 6 months bottle aging prior to release. I was excited to try this wine but I was heartily let down. In the glass, the wine is a medium violet color with little fading toward the rim of the bowl. It’s very pretty to look at. After decanting for 6 minutes, aromas of crushed red plums, herbaceous tobacco, sandalwood, and warm dusty earth began to emerge.
On the palate, the wine is austere as can be. Medium bodied red fruits are the core attraction but lack any intensity or plump of ripeness. Somewhat monolithic, there are traces of dusty clay and slightly stemmy tannins marking the finish. If this is shut down, it’s a got a long way to go before it impresses and an even greater journey to respect the price this wine commands. Tasted twice with consistent notes from two different bottles. I have buried my last remaining bottle in my cellar to see what becomes of this as it nears its 10th birthday. 86 points. Shop around if you’re inclined to try this. The price fluctuates dramatically. Find this wine.