The Manetti family has owned Fontodi since 1968 but has been in Chianti for centuries, producing the finest terracotta at their factory in Ferrone. The same attention to detail that makes them the best producers of terracotta has been brought to bear on Fontodi over the past 50 years, and has transformed a crumbling farmhouse with a few hectares of vineyard into one of Chianti Classico's most impressive estates.
Giovanni Manetti has run the property since 1980 and ensures the wines are as meticulously made as the vineyards and cellar are both immaculately tended. Giovanni's 90 hectares of vineyard, 90% of which are Sangiovese, are situated in the prime 'conca d'oro' (golden shell) of Panzano, giving wines of supreme elegance, intensity and longevity. The south-facing vineyards and the natural amphitheatre allow the grapes to ripen fully, while the altitude ensures cool nights, which in turn results in the retention of good acidity and lovely aromatics. Soils here allow for excellent drainage, encouraging the vines to put down deep roots. Giovanni has converted to organic viticulture and is now following biodynamic principles in order to obtain the best quality fruit.
In the winery, his approach is similarly non-interventionist (very low toast oak, for example) in order to ensure that the quality of the fruit is preserved in the finished wine. Giovanni's Chianti Classico always shows great depth of flavour, being intense yet balanced. The 'Vigna del Sorbo' Gran Selezione is intensely concentrated. It used to contain a small portion of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, but in 2012 Giovanni decided the Sangiovese needed no further help. 'Flaccianello', made from a selection of the estate's best Sangiovese, is fast becoming one of Italy's most sought-after wines. It is powerful and fleshy and ages beautifully. The 'Dino' is made with 100% Sangiovese and remains for 12 months on its skins without sulphites in orci (amphorae) made at the Manetti terracotta factory. The orci are left to rest in the cellar at the ambient temperature of 14°C and 80% humidity, perfect conditions for a very slow evolution. Giovanni is now using amphorae for the vinification of a small percentage of all his red wines, as well as his Sauvignon Blanc, 'Meriggio'. The Fontodi Vin Santo is voluptuous and nutty, as beautifully made as their outstanding olive oil.
Fontodi's 90 hectares of south-facing vineyards sit at 450 metres above sea level in the Conca d'Oro (the 'golden shell'), an amphitheatre-shaped valley to the south of Panzano. Well-draining 'Scaglia Toscana' soils are made up of a mixture of Galestro (clay schist) and Alberese (limestone) and encourage the vines to grow deep roots. The Sangiovese used for the Fontodi Chianti Classico come predominantly from 10-year-old, guyot-trained vines, with a proportion of fruit from the same 25-year-old vines which produce the 'Flaccianello'. The quality of the Sangiovese grapes from the Fontodi vineyards obviates the need for Merlot or other varieties as a remedial blender.
Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks with indigenous yeasts and lasted for around two weeks. After fermentation, the wine was racked into 225-litre French oak barriques, a mixture of Tronçais and Allier, where it underwent malolactic fermentation and remained for 18 months, it then spent an additional six months in second use barriques before bottling. Finally, the wine matured in bottle in the Fontodi cellars for six months before release.
The wine is deep ruby red in colour, with perfumes of sour cherry and plums leading to notes of leather and tobacco. It has great depth of flavour, with juicy fruit and supple tannins, giving way to a silky-smooth texture. It has a great structure and finishes with a fine mineral note.