Fontodi Terrazze San Leolino Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2019


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“Here is yet another surprise from Fontodi born during the pandemic. A second new addition to the portfolio, the 2019 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Terrazze San Leolino is made with organic fruit from a parcel near the little chapel of the same name in the Conca d’Oro of Panzano. The winey team had noticed a difference in quality from this 4.5-hectare site with limestone alberese soils at a cool 450 to 500 meters in elevation. The best fruit from 15-year-old vines was put aside to make this 5,000-bottle inaugural release. The celebrated Vigna del Sorbo is not too far away, but compared to the wine made from that site, Terrazze San Leolino is sharper, more focused and offers streamlined fruit weight. The bouquet veers toward wild roses and Mediterranean herb, giving more vertical push to the aromas. The tannins are silky and polished. This new brand will grow slowly over the coming years. Drink: 2024-2040. 95 points

Call it a “lockdown illumination,” the COVID-19 pandemic years were especially fruitful for Fontodi’s Giovanni Manetti. Given time to reflect and walk through his vineyard rows in the amphitheater of postcard-perfect vines known as the Conca d’Oro in Panzano in Chianti, Manetti decided it was time to enlarge his portfolio. Specifically, he sought an opportunity to better articulate the concept of Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, which is in essence a perfect vehicle for a grand cru winemaking philosophy.

His existing Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Vigna del Sorbo is a flagship for this highest category of the appellation, but alas, it represents just one vineyard site. Fruit is sourced from an area with a greater presence of schistous galestro for dark fruit, etched mineral notes and pencil shavings. Now, that wine can be seen in context. Two new wines, the Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Terrazze San Leolino and the Chianti Classico Pastrolo, are now in production. They come from radically different sites and soils.

“We now have three wines to match three soils,” says Giovanni Manetti from his spacious tasting room while morning sun streams in from the windows.

The Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Terrazze San Leolino comes from a site in Panzano not too far from Vigna del Sorbo. However, this little parcel near the San Leolino country chapel is characterized by limestone alberese that makes fresh wines that are not as dark in character. Equally exciting is the Chianti Classico Pastrolo from old vines in terraced vineyards in high-elevation Lamole. This areas tends to have Macigno Toscano, or sandstone.

The Conca d’Oro vineyard in Panzano in Chianti has both galestro and alberese with pietraforte (the same hard stone used to build Palazzo Pitti in nearby Florence) at the higher rim of the vineyard. Flaccianello della Pieve is a selection of fruit from various sites, with much of it coming from the areas with pietraforte.

Giovanni Manetti is pushing the boundaries of Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, and he is interested in capturing the freshness and transparency of wines identified by their soils. These efforts are timed to the announcement of the new Chianti Classico UGAs, or subzones.

I also think this post–COVID era represents an exciting new start for Lamole, one of the most remote and untouched villages in the wider Chianti Classico appellation. Cooler growing sites are ideal for wineries looking for alternatives in a warmer climate. If a powerhouse estate such as Fontodi continues to invest in Lamole, we will certainly see more interest in the area in the years to come.

Monica Larner, Wine Advocate (02/23)