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My original title for this email was "Too High for Brunello"... but it didn't pass the initial proofing for obvious reasons. Despite the humor, the nixed headline references something special about the Troncone bottling from Le Ragnaie in Montalcino. According to the technical sheet provided by our supplier, the Sangiovese for this wine is picked from vineyards planted above the 600 meter elevation limit to be considered "Rosso" or "Brunello di Montalcino," though the vines do fall within the DOC(G) boders. "The estate spreads across 42 acres, 12 of which surround the cellars of Le Ragnaie," writes the estate's California distributor. "These vines are the highest of any in Montalcino, in an area that became famous for bird-catchers." The producer's name and logo pay hommage to these hunters, who would use a large, spiderweb inspired nets to capture the birds. In Italian, "spider" is "ragno" from which Le Ragnaie is derived.
A clear black cherry hue in the glass. On the nose, the Troncone has lovely red berries, small plums, dried red and purple flowers, a touch of warm ginger, and lightly tilled garden soil. Flavors are sparky, with snappy cherry, zesty black pepper, and a core of brisk minerality. The finish is bright and citrusy. Very cooling in structure, with a great, lapping texture on the tongue, with medium acidity and just a dash of tannin.
"The combination of a high elevation and a young, dynamic winemaker makes Le Ragnaie a true breath of fresh air in historic Montalcino," continues the CA distributor. Riccardo Campinoti purchased the property in 2002. He is dedicated to organic farming (practicing since '05; certified in '08). In the cellar, all Riccardo's wines are fermented with native yeasts in concrete vats. Wood aging in done in large-Slavonian oak vessels. This is true low-intervention winemaking that highlights an exceptionally unique part of this famous Tuscan appellation. Full of life, this wine will be a refreshing compliment to grilled meats and veggies this summer!
From Montalcino, we're also highlighting the Fornacina 2015 Brunello. In his tasting note below, Jamie Wolff describes the altitude of the Fornacina Sangiovese vines as being rather high at 400 meters, which could be one of the reasons the wine has lovely freshness, especially for the hot, hot '15 vintage.
Next, we're flying to Lamole in Chianti, which is also famous for high elevation vineyards. We've long
been impressed with the wines of I Fabbri - and we currently have three different bottlings in stock. Like the Le Ragnaie, there is exceptional vigor in these wines. Clean, bright, and full of fruits and earth that pop on the tongue. We're down to our last bottles of oh-so-drinkable 2019 Fiasco from the estate - don't miss them!
Lastly, we're very happy to introduce you all to our newest arrival from our friends at Lecci e Brocchi in Chianti. The 2018 Ragonaia has more density than the other wines on this offer. Less acidity and more richness and dark fruits.
In the glass, the wine shows a lovely black cherry in color. On the nose, the wine is soft, with savory red plum, red flowers, and dark citrus peel. Flavors of ripe red cherry and minerally earth. Generous on the palate, showing medium acidity and fuller but woven tannin.
In my experience, consumers often pass over Sangiovese because they assume it is a simple grape that only produces simple wines. Those jugs of thin red labeled "Chianti" that used to sit in our grandparents' refrigerators definitely didn't help promote the grape's quality. But in reality, in both Chianti and Monalcino, there are serious wines being made that reflect the landscapes they've originated. High altitude? You can taste it! And you know what? I think you'll love it. David Hatzopoulos
I Fabbri's Fiasco bottling is an incredibly bright Sangiovese from one of our favorite Chianti producers. The nose of this fresh red is full of wild fruits - cherries, strawberries, and blueberries. Lending a rustic accent is a pleasant aroma of savory green herbs. Flavors of black cherry and dark stones create a bright palate with a healthy level of high-toned verve. Great acidity and a light hint of tannin round out this delicious (and dangerously drinkable) wine! Serve at cellar temperature for extra refreshment. David Hatzopoulos
100% Sangiovese from organic vineyards in Montalcino, planted too high in elevation to qualify for Rosso DOC or Brunello DOCG labeling. Fermented in cement with native yeasts and a 15 day maceration on the skins. Aged in Slavonian oak for 12 months and bottled without clarification. A clear black cherry hue in the glass. On the nose, the Troncone has lovely red berries, small plums, dried red and purple flowers, a touch of warm ginger, and lightly tilled garden soil. Flavors are sparky, with snappy cherry, zesty black pepper, and a core of brisk minerality. The finish is bright and citrusy. Very cooling in structure, with a great, lapping texture on the tongue, with medium acidity and just a dash of tannin. David Hatzopoulos
I've tried to resist the temptation of a potential cliché, but: this made me think of Burgundy, because this is a really elegant Brunello with no sign of heat, beautiful balance – it’s intense, but not at all too rich, with good lift, and a clear sense of place. I’ve tasted Fornacina for about 10 years now, and terroir emerges in the wine; the relatively high altitude (400+ meters), and the high PH of the galestro soil, must play a role in how fresh the wine is, even in a hot vintage like 2015. The wine is very fragrant with “frutti di bosco”, or forest fruits (wild strawberry, blackberry, etc), clay and “sotto bosco”, or forest floor – leafy and earthy. After 4+ hours open, it’s showing even better: a very refined wine, aromatic, dynamic, and delicious. Jamie Wolff
90% Sangiovese Grosso and 10% Canaiolo from old vines planted 550 meters above sea level. Fermentation and aging is done in cement and 500 liter French oak tonneaux. In the glass, the wine is a ripe red cherry in color. The nose is full of fresh red berries, with a touch of juniper perfume and woodsy earth. Rich on the palate, with strong iron and mineral strength, with a zap of firm cherry - finishing on a semi-bitter cranberry note. The structure is bright, with incredibly healthy acidity and very clean tannic chew. What a balanced yet invigorating wine! David Hatzopoulos
100% Sangiovese, 13.5° alcohol, vinified in concrete and aged in old wood ranging from tonneau to 30HL botte. And wow! Very aromatic – delicately floral, bright fruit, stony. On the palate a lovely light texture and beautiful balance, again very stony, with sweet raspberry, thyme, olive, and slightly grainy tannins that add complexity. Very, very good, old school wine – I’m brought back to why I fell for Chianti in the first place. After a few days open still beautifully lifted and complex – my kind of wine. 111 points. Jamie Wolff
The Ragonaia bottling from Lecci & Brocchi is 100% Sangiovese from vineyards 420 meters above sea level. Fruit harvested at the end of of September. Vinification in vertical open tonneaux with manual punch downs. Fermentation is natural. Malo happens in steel tanks before aging in barrique for 12 months. In the glass, the wine shows a lovely black cherry in color. On the nose, the wine is soft, with savory red plum, red flowers, and dark citrus peel. Flavors of ripe red cherry and minerally earth. Generous on the palate, showing medium acidity and fuller but woven tannin. David Hatzopoulos