In 1960, Aldo Bianchi returned to Tuscany after spending time in the north of Italy after the war. He immediately fell in love with the landscape of Castello di Monsanto but it was his son, Fabrizio, who admired the wines from the cellar. Within months, Aldo purchased the estate and moved his family back to Tuscany. In 1962, the initial vintage of Il Poggio was created marking the first time a Chianti Classico Riserva was bottled from a single vineyard. For Monsanto, Il Poggio is truly the mother vineyard; having had massal selections taken from her and used to start the estate’s other Sangiovese vineyards.
Today the estate, led by Fabrizio’s daughter Laura, farms 72 hectares, 56 of which are devoted Sangiovese. Of that total, only 5 1/2 hectares are the Il Poggio Vineyard, so the production of today’s subject wine is small and reserved only for the best vintages. In fact, deep under the 18th century castle 2,000 to 3,000 bottles of each vintage of Il Poggio rest undisturbed, forming a living treasure and a historical archive bridge to the past. After 35 years of aging, the wines are re-corked and topped off using wine from the same vintage. Occasionally bottles are released to the public.
Today we’re focusing on the most recent release, the 2011 Castello di Monsanto Il Poggio Chianti Classico Riserva. This single vineyard Riserva is comprised of 90% Sangiovese, 7% Canaiolo and 3% Colorino. After vinification, the wine is aged in French oak barrels for no less than 20 months and then 3-6 months in bottle prior to release.
The 2011 is a fresh looking medium violet color. I always tend to notice a slightly darker, more vibrant color to Chianti when Colorino is included in the blend. I might be imagining that, but nevertheless….
The aromas from the wine are simply superb and classic in every sense. Ripe berries abound, buttressed by clove, white pepper, fresh tobacco and crushed flowers. It’s very pretty. On the palate is where I find this wine to be most attractive. It’s incredibly bright, fresh and juicy with crushed red fruit simply exploding on your palate. On the perimeter, leafy tobacco, dusty spices, fennel seed and coffee notes are present. On the back end, the tannins do clamp down a bit, especially without food. However, with pappardelle sul ragu and braciole, this simply exceeded my expectations. Perhaps it’s a bit pricey vis a vis Brunello, it’s a fair comparison to highlight for my readers I think, but I was not disappointed in the least here. It’s remarkable to me that 2011 seems generally better than 2010 in central Tuscany, but I’ve witnessed it over and over. 94 points. About $44.
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