What goes into the making of a truly great Chianti?

As with any great wine of the world, it starts with location, planting the correct clonal material in the correct spot for maximum quality.

Then of course there are the farming systems being employed, and finding the balance between vigor and intensity in the vines.

And finally the touch of the winemaker, or lack thereof. Some Chiantis in the last ten years have evolved into a very “international” style, with loads of new oak, deep color extraction, and a dollop of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or even Syrah being added to the Sangiovese (official Chianti laws state that a Chianti must be a minimum 80% Sangiovese … the other 20% can be anything they want). On the opposite side of the spectrum are the traditionalists, who want to avoid winemaker influence at almost any cost.

One is not better than the other, simply different. But regardless of the winemaking style employed, we have the utmost respect for any producer that concentrates on making great wine in the vineyard first and foremost, and that is where this video series comes in.

 

Before we get into some cool lessons from Roberto Stucchi of Badia a Coltibuono, let’s define what a ‘truly great Chianti’ is. One of the more beautiful and accurate descriptions have come from Jackson Rhorbaugh in a great article for Wine Folly:

The best examples of Chianti are a visceral tasting experience. Imagine the smells as you walk through an Italian grocery store: at the entrance there’s a bowl of preserved sour Amarena cherries. You walk under bunches of dried oregano, past a wall of dark, aromatic balsamic vinegar, then pass a counter where dry salami is being sliced. At the bar, dark espresso is dripping into a ceramic tazzo. A whisper of sweet tobacco wafts in the door from the pipe of the old man outside. Chianti smells and tastes like Italy. There will be a little coarseness and tartness on the palate, but these aren’t flaws, they are classic characteristics of Sangiovese.

Spot on. And that brings us to Roberto Stucchi and Badia a Coltibuono.

Regarding intelligent and wholistic approaches to grape growing and winemaking, Stucchi is one of the leaders in the field, especially when it comes to the sub-zones of Chianti. His wines are hands-off, expressing all the good and true aromas and flavor profiles of the region.

Listening to Stucchi discuss vine growing practices is eye opening and incredibly educational.

First, a discussion of the sub zone of Giaole in Chianti, in the southeastern corner of the zone, where Badia a Coltibuono is located. Included is a fascinating talk on the “mother vineyard” where he has isolated the clones he wants to work with, and all plant material for other vineyard plantings comes from this site. (My apologies for my thumb being in the video for a bit.)

Next up, a full discussion on organic farming practices, use of cover crops, and the large number of Sangiovese clones used by Badia a Cotibuono and why. (Again, my big thumb gets in the way for just a bit, sorry about that!)

Going deeper, figuratively and literally, Stucchi discusses soil science and “reading the weeds” to identify problems and imbalances in the vineyard.

Continuing on the soil discussion, here talking about micro organisms and life content in the dirt.

 

cetamuraBadia a Coltibuono produces a range of wines from the Chianti region. A great all purpose wine from them is the Chianti Cetamura, available at the following locations (listed alphabetically by city, call ahead to confirm availability).

The Beanery
Aitkin
218-927-7811

Noel's Bottle Shop
Bemidji
218-444-9864

Old Vine Wine & Spirits
Bloomington
952-858-8800

Team Liquor W&s - Coon Rapids - Closed
Coon Rapids
612-281-6669

Dennis Brothers Liquor
Cottage Grove
651-458-8932

Cash Wise Liquor - Duluth
Duluth
218-722-4507

Firehouse Liquor - Dundas
Dundas
507-645-5717

Punch Pizza - Eden Prairie
Eden Prairie
651-696-2921

D'amico & Sons - Edina
Edina
952-926-1187

The Hilltop
Edina
952-925-5628

D'amico & Sons - Golden Valley
Golden Valley
763-546-1166

Wine Cafe
Mankato
507-345-1516

Punch Pizza - Maple Grove
Maple Grove
763-494-3131

3 Squares
Maple Grove
763-425-3330

Heritage Liquor
Maplewood
651-777-7455

Punch Pizza - East Hennepin
Minneapolis
612-623-8114

Falls Liquor
Minneapolis
612-729-5498

Punch Pizza - West Lake St
Minneapolis
612-926-0110

Surdyk's
Minneapolis
612-379-3232

Team Liquor W&s - Minneapolis-closed
Minneapolis
612-375-9487

D'amico & Sons - Uptown
Minneapolis
612-374-3366

Nelson, Jeff
Minneapolis


Punch Pizza - Washington Ave
Minneapolis
612-331-3122

Stinson Wine, Beer & Spirits
Minneapolis
612-789-0678

Mcdonald Liquor Store
Minneapolis
612-721-6686

Franklin-nicollet Liquors
Minneapolis
612-871-1511

Longfellow Grill
Minneapolis
612-916-2262

The Lowry
Minneapolis
612-341-2112

Chef Shack Ranch
Minneapolis
763-780-1168

Glen Lake Wine & Spirits
Minnetonka
952-935-7375

U.s. Liquor & Wine - Sold
Minnetonka
952-912-9797

Lunds & Byerlys - Minnetonka
Minnetonka
952-541-1414

Northfield Liquors
Northfield
507-645-5153

Oak Wine & Spirits
Oak Park Heights
651-439-2184

D'amico & Sons - Roseville
Roseville
651-633-7667

St Anthony Village # 1
Saint Anthony
612-782-3451

Veranda Lounge - New Ownership
Saint Cloud
320-309-6914

The Local Blend
Saint Joseph
320-363-1011

Knollwood Liquors
Saint Louis Park
952-938-2783

Toasted Wine+spirits+ales
Saint Paul
651-246-8054

Colbeck, Cathy
Saint Paul


Scott's Liquor
Saint Paul
651-690-4434

Punch Pizza - Grand
Saint Paul
612-378-7631

Nicole Ralston
Saint Paul
651-487-1212

Mchugh, Mike
Saint Paul


D'amico & Sons - St Paul
Saint Paul
651-374-1776

Angela Kallsen
Saint Paul


Sunrise Market
Saint Paul
651-487-1913

First Grand Liquors
Saint Paul
651-227-7039

Yarmo Liquor
Saint Paul
651-698-0707

Market Place Liquor
Savage
952-440-9860

Team Liquor W&s - Shorewood - New Ownership
Shorewood
612-325-0328

The Wine Thief
St Paul
651-698-9463

Mgm - Vadnais Heights
Vadnais Heights
651-653-3456

West Side Liquor - Waite Park
Waite Park
320-253-9511

Punch Pizza - Wayzata
Wayzata
612-331-3122

D'amico & Sons - Wayzata
Wayzata
952-374-1776

Wayzata Wines & Spirits
Wayzata
952-473-7191

Acqua - White Bear Lake
White Bear Lake
651-407-7317

Punch Pizza - Woodbury
Woodbury
651-714-7986

 

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