In 1960, Aldo Bianchi returned to Tuscany after spending time in northern Italy after World War II. He immediately fell in love with Castello di Monsanto but it was his son, Fabrizio, who most admired the wines from the estate.
Months later, Aldo purchased the property and moved his family back to Tuscany. It may not have seemed dramatic at the time, but history was set to be made. Aldo was inspired. Until the realization of his vision, no one had ever bottled a Chianti Classico Riserva from a single vineyard. That all changed when he created Il Poggio; a singular masterful expression of Sangiovese. The wine proved so successful that Aldo took massal cuttings from Il Poggio and used them to propagate the other Sangiovese vineyards on the estate.
Since 1989, the estate has been run by Fabrizio’s daughter Laura Bianchi who reminds us that, “Castello di Monstanto began as an intuition before developing into an idea and then a vision.” That intuition has paid significant dividends as Il Poggio is consistently sought after and age worthy.
Located in Barberina Val d’Elsa, the Castello dates back to 1740 and dominates over Monsanto’s 72 hectares of vineyards. The gardens, female statues and majestic vistas make it easy to see how Fabrizio was seduced by this property. Never one to rest on his laurels, Fabrizio’s vision extended beyond the traditional wines of Chianti Classico. So in 1982, Fabrizio planted Cabernet Sauvignon in his “Il Mulino” vineyard. He chose the name “Nemo” from the famous saying “Nemo propheta in patria”…. No man is a prophet in his own land.
For this article we tasted the most recent releases of these two wines. The first, was Il Poggio a single vineyard Chianti Classico Riserva. As of the 2015 vintage, the wine will now bear the Gran Selezione designation.
The Castello di Monsanto 2013 Il Poggio Chianti Classico Riserva is truly a special Cru. First produced in 1962, the wine exalts both Sangiovese and the history of the territory since the wine includes 5% Colorino and Canaiolo. In the glass, the wine is a deep ruby to violet color with gorgeous aromas of fresh crushed berry, lavender, tobacco leaf and hints of toasted spices. The flavors echo the nose with freshness, sapidity, elegance and length. This is powerful and graceful at once and is a pillar of Chianti Classico. Il Poggio is vinified in conical stainless steel and then transferred to 500 liter tonneaux for 18 months before being bottle aged an additional 2 years prior to release. 93 points. Price varies widely between $54-$65. Find this wine.
Next was the transcendental Nemo. The 2013 Castello di Monsanto Nemo sports a new label from this vintage. Crafted from 100% Cabernet from a single vineyard, Nemo is also vinified in stainless steel before being transferred to barrique for 18 months. Not willing to rush to market, Nemo is also aged for 2 years in bottle before release.
The 2013 is a dark violet with purple reflections. On the nose, the wine exhibits crushed black berry and plum with accents of fennel, fresh herbs and mocha. On the palate, the wine is fleshy and forward with tannins that are noticeable but well integrated. Rosemary, toasted spices and pencil lead join the black plum flavors. This is a more savory version of Cabernet. 91 points. Price varies widely between $44-$65. A better value toward the lower end. Not yet fully released. Find this wine.
Here are a few bonus shots I had for this article. I just love the way Nemo came out in this picture.
And of course, the lovely Laura Bianchi who extols the virtues of her estate with grace and passion.