High atop the hills just North West from the center of Radda lies the medieval hamlet of Monteraponi. Dating back to the 10th Century, Monteraponi resembles a small Burgundian Monopole. Acquired in the 1970s by the current owner’s Father, winemaker and proprietor Michele Braganti has helmed the estate since the late 1970s. His tireless work has brought Monteraponi to greatness and his insistence on organic, natural and traditional winemaking is the fundamental philosophy that guides him. He has told me many times: “My focus is to keep tradition and respect the area and the grapes in order to show their real potential. Chianti Classico cannot be Classico anymore if you blend it with international grapes.
Today, the property is about 200 hectares that stretch through a valley passed over by the Arbia river, with oak trees, and over 1,200 olive trees. Of the total area of land, only 10 hectares are vineyards and the rest semi-native and wild. There is a lake, where Braganti goes to fish from time by time…to think, to relax.
The Baron Ugo vineyard is Monteraponi’s highest. Sitting at an elevation of 570 meters above sea level, it is also among the steepest vineyards you’ll come across. Harvesting can only be accomplished on foot, by hand and in fact, getting the grapes down to the vineyard via tractor is a trip fraught with danger. The vineyard was originally created by Braganti’s father shortly after he arrived on the estate. However, it has since been supplemented and replanted. Rich in albarese and galestro, the wines from Baron Ugo are noticeably filled with a dusty minerality that has become a hallmark of the wine. A Chianti Classico Riserva through the 2012 vintage, the wine is now simply a Toscana IGT so that it may be released on the market when Braganti desires, not under the constraints of the Consorzio.
Today we’re reviewing one of the last Chianti Classico Riserva Baron Ugo that was produced. The 2010 Monteraponi Baron Ugo Chianti Classico Riserva is a blend of 90% Sangiovese, 7% Canaiolo and 3% Colorino. The grapes were grown organically and then harvested and selected totally by hand.
We decanted the wine for an hour before dinner. No sediment was observed. The color of the wine is a gorgeous shimmering ruby with a fainter almost brick colored rim at the edge of the bowl. Absolutely perfumed aromas of crushed cherry, dried flowers, sage, cured meat and tobacco leap from the glass. It’s absolutely wonderful to smell.
On the palate, the wine is more masculine than some, but does not lose its elegance. Ripe crushed berry is accented by toasted spices, dried herbs and mineral notes. Full bodied, but with elegant caressing tannins that are graceful and very powdery. It’s Braganti’s signature and I’ve noticed it in every one of his red wines. The long, smooth, ripe finish is punctuated by red fennel notes. This is a Burgundy lovers Riserva and a thinking mans wine. I carried this back from the winery and it was my only bottle. I am glad to have witnessed its greatness. 95 points. Current vintages sell for approximately $90. Find this wine.