Anyone who has visited wineries in Chianti Classico will understand why wines from different estates taste different. The climate at Felsina Berardenga in the south is noticeably warmer than it is high up at Volpaia or Monte Vertine. Roads round here are both curly and hilly. A route through the middle of the classico district will be beautiful and there are wonderful views but it will take much longer than the appallingly maintained SS Siena-Firenze road round the western side. The quality of the wine is greatly influenced by the exposure of the vineyard and its altitude. Fontodi, which is high up at Panzano, about 450 metres above sea-level, benefits from being in a wonderful southfacing protected amphitheatre, the conca d’oro.
Much of the land on all the estates, unsuitable for good vineyards, is left as woodland, making marvellous cover for wild boar, roe deer and hares. Giovanni Manetti, the greatly respected owner of Fontodi, has persuaded owners of 70% of the Panzano vineyards to cultivate organically. The wild animals thoroughly approve. Highish fences or electric wires surround most vineyards but boars are good at nosing their way underneath where possible to get at the ripe grapes late in the evening and roe deer can jump pretty high. No wonder there is a fair bit of venison and wild boar sausage on local menus.
Sebastian Payne MW
Chief Wine Buyer