“The respect of the Chianti tradition over the generations”

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, grapes vines and olive trees and although tending to everything during Italy’s “Mezzadria” (sharecropping) period,  even at this early stage, the Losi’s emphasized wine production. 
When the sharecropping era began to wither,  Tranquillo purchased both the Fontino and Querciavalle farms and merged them into the Agricola 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.  Finally in 1998,  the family folded the neighboring Pontignanello Farm into their property.

Today, the estate covers 50 hectares in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga, home to familiar names like Felsina, Tolaini and Castello di Bossi.  Approximately 15 hectares are under vine, from which the Losi’s produce Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, Toscana Rosso IGT and Vin Santo wine.  The remaining land is devoted to olive trees, grains and arable crops. 

~ Vines, Olive Trees & the Pontignano Abbey in Castelnuovo Berardenga ~

The estate is shepherded today by five generations of Losi’s and the family is successfully crafting wines that marry tradition with innovation.  The results are exciting and as I began my tastings for this article, my first reaction was: “Where has this estate been all my life?”    And I don’t have an answer for that, except to say that thankfully I’ve got plenty of life ahead and Querciavalle is now firmly on my radar.  Readers should take note. Today’s initial segment on Querciavalle begins with two of the estate’s most ubiquitous reds.  

The first wine we tasted was the 2010 Querciavalle Chianti Classico.  Produced from selected grapes from the Leccino vineyard,  the wine is comprised of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo.   Vinified in stainless steel and cement,  after the fermentations are complete, the wine is aged up to 18 months in large oak casks and then in bottle 6 additional months before release.  

In the glass, the wine is a brilliant shimmering ruby with violet reflections.  Wonderful aromatics fill the tasters environment.  Fresh flowers, crushed cherry, earth and savory herb notes are enticing and plentiful.  On the palate the wine is absolutely delicious.  There is a medium bodied core of ripe cherry fruit that is backed by flavors of earth, rosemary, pipe tobacco and spices.  The textural sense from the wine is simply wonderful, with silky powdery tannins perfectly integrated and mouth watering acidity to keep things fresh.  Simply a wonderful pairing with pappardelle tossed with fennel sausage and tomato. Delicious with and without the food.  91 points.  SRP ~ $24.  Disclosure:  This bottle was an importer provided sample.
~ 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo star in this juicy, delicious Chianti Classico ~

After the wonderful showing of the Chianti Classico I was eagerly anticipating the Chianti Classico Riserva.  However,  the Classico presented itself with no expectations; no preconceived notions.  Now it was up to the Classico’s “big sibling” to live up to expectations.  I was almost prepared to be let down; even ever so slightly.  I was wrong.

The 2007 Querciavalle Chianti Classico Riserva is produced from the Vigna del Pino vineyard and comprised of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Canaiolo.   Vigna del Pino sits at almost 350 meters elevation and faces directly south so while the altitude provides freshness for the grapes, the exposure is ideal for phenolic maturation.  It’s evident in the wine.  Like the Chianti Classico,  the Riserva is vinified in both stainless steel and cement and then aged in large oak casks for up to 36 months. Refinement in bottle lasts up to an additional 12 months prior to release.

In the glass, the wine is a deep ruby red, almost impenetrable, with a slight fade to violet at the rim of the bowl.  Everything present in the Chianti Classico is ramped up here and is nothing short of amazing.  Full blown aromas of freshly cut flowers, new saddle leather, freshly turned dirt,  espresso bean and boisterous crushed wild berries are mesmerizing.   In the mouth, the wine is forward and delicious with full bodied flavors of wild berries, spices, coffee and cured meat.  Persistent, with more emphasis on charm and elegance rather than brawn, this is well balanced and throwing an enormous amount of sediment.  We did not decant this wine,  but clearly it is required.  Anything negative here would be nitpicking.  93 points.  SRP ~ $30.  Disclosure:  This bottle was an importer provided sample.
~ Served alongside grilled flank steak, broccoli rabe and crusty bread – a perfect match! ~

As you may have guessed,  this estate was new to me.  That alone would not necessarily be surprising.  Anyone who has driven the strade bianca of Tuscany can attest to the various farms and producers with signs proclaiming: “Vendita Diretta Olio e Vino”.   
What did surprise me was that the estate is located in a premium area – Castelnuovo Berardenga – and lies within a 5 minute drive from Vagliagli and the villa we use as a base to visit Tuscany.  Pleasant surprises and new discoveries are nice.  That’s why I do what I do.  And that’s why I hope you continue to visit and join me along the journey.
Part 2 of this feature still to come……..

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