~ The Unique Man – Michele Braganti ~ 
(Photo Courtesy of Joanie Karapetian)

I am the richer for having found Monteraponi’s wines.  At the risk of waxing poetic,  I hope that these pages have encouraged you, the reader, to seek these wines out.  They are distinctive, they are personal, they are soulful and delicious. In a sea of what can sometimes be homogenous Chianti Classico, these stand out. 
But what about them makes them unusual?  I first met “The Padrone”,  winemaker Michele Braganti a little over a year ago.  We have exchanged various emails and tweets since and with each instance,  he never fails to impart the whimsical attributes of his personality and how that plays into the passion he channels in creating his wines.  Wines that he consistently maintains are “classic and natural“.   Wines that hold tradition dear, eskew international trends and prove with conviction that excellence can be achieved by embracing historic methods and executing them with a keen eye toward quality.
Michele mentioned the following to me when I interviewed him and it sticks with me every time I open one of his wines. 
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.  My goal is to produce a wine, full of mineralogy, acidity and freshness so that it invites you to drink more and more without boring you when the bottle is half full! When you close your eyes to taste, I want you to be thinking of Radda, which is one of the most beautiful zones to produce the best Sangiovese!”

~ The courtyard at Monteraponi ~
The other night we had unexpected Guests® for dinner and I was forced to shelve the planned evening menu and improvise.  I grabbed some beautiful skirt steak and decided to feature a classic Italian Salsa Verde.  I wanted a wine that would provide a foil – a backdrop that would complete the picture – so I reached for my last bottle of the 2010 Monteraponi Chianti Classico.  What I got, was a front row seat at the London Philharmonic!
The 2010 Classico is a deep, medium ruby red color and has bright violet reflections clear to the rim. The aromas on the nose speak of  Radda and that minerality that is ever present in Braganti’s wines. There’s a beautiful central core of wild berries laced with flowers, lavender and a pretty, sweet tobacco note.  In the mouth the wine’s freshly crushed wild berry flavors,  are accented by dusty, powdery minerals that assert themselves in both flavor and tactility.  The fruit core is pure, bright, fleshy and wonderfully ripe. Only on the finish do we sense a touch of sweet pipe tobacco.  This is Radda. This is what a Classico should be.  It may seem like this is Monteraponi or Radda in the glass.  But it only seems that way.  This, is Braganti in a glass.  92 points.  A steal at $17-$19. 

~ I must find more ~
Now, for the foodies out there,  let me further implore you.  If you’re not making Salsa Verde for grilled meat, you are missing out.  This is a simple recipe that requires no chopping, and no cooking.  This added tons of flavor to the skirt steak, but can easily be used on chicken, lamb or fish.  It’s also great condiment to use as a dipping sauce for bread.
Tuscan Salsa Verde
2 cloves raw garlic
1 large handful Italian Parsley (about 1 cup)
1 large handful Basil (about 1 Cup)
1 Anchovy filet
2 teaspoons capers
1 teaspoon lemon zest 
Juice of 1/2 lemon 
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Combine all the ingredients above – with the exception of the Olive oil into a food processor or blender.  As you begin pulsing the mixture,  slowly drizzle the olive oil into the food processor until it reaches the proper consistency.  You will likely use no more than 1/2 cup of olive oil.  The mixture will resemble an herb oil, but it will also have some thickness. 
Stir together and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove to a serving bowl.  You can make this hours ahead of time.  That’s it!  Simple and packed with flavor.

~ Drizzled on steak. You can see a slight separation here, but also get a good sense of the consistency ~


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