The legend is compelling…..
Located just north west of Castellina in Chianti, the ancient church that lends its entomology to the Piemaggio estate dates back to the XIIth century. Owned and run by Larissa Karaban, the estate boasts some of the highest vineyards in the entire Chianti Classico appellation. In fact, the name Piemaggio descends from a contraction of Pieve (church) and Maggiore (high atop a hill).
Despite its relatively small size, Piemaggio has only 12 hectares under vine, Karaban feels that the altitude affects their Sangiovese in a special way. As a result, Piemaggio typically releases their wines much later than the law would otherwise require. This is illustrated by the fact that the current vintage releases for the estate are the 2013 Classico and 2012 Riserva. Michele Neri is the winemaker.
The tale of Piemaggio continues and as legend says, the story goes like this……..
In the old times, a monk was on pilgrimage; walking and praying in this area for days and days during the summer. He eventually lost consciouness due to the hot temperatures. Three young sisters, flower girls, found this monk in the woods and gave him a little bit of red wine trying to help him. The monk woke up because the wine was so good. He continued his walk but after several months he decided to return, to start building a small church and to plant some vineyards together with other monks, producing a good red wine to offer to the parishioners.
The 2012 Piemaggio Chianti Classico Riserva is indeed as compelling as the legend. Very similar to it’s 2010 sibling, the wine is a deep ruby in the glass which lightens only slightly at the edge of the bowl. The vineyard that produces the fruit for Piemaggio’s Riserva sits at almost 500 meters above sea level. The soil is the typical combination of galestro and alberese. Planted to a mix of varietals, the composition of the vineyard is reflected in the blend of the wine: 90% Sangiovese and 10% of Colorino, Canaiolo and Ciliegiolo.
Lovely, ripe dominant nose of crushed cherry with Tuscan herbs like cypress needles and rosemary accenting and lifting the notes of dried tobacco and worn leather. On the palate, the wine is fresh and lively with juicy full bodied cherry and berry notes that develop hints of tobacco and fennel. Without food, it is noticeably tannic and a bit drying on the finish. 2012 was a good, but not great vintage in central Tuscany so I believe that’s part of the vintage character. That said, this wine puts itself out there admirably. Like all of Piemaggio’s wines, this is the current release. The estate holds its wine back until they feel they are ready to be released and not “at the whim or norm of the market”. 92 points. About $25 and a very nice value at that price point.