Our tasting impressions
This strikes me as the epitome of Chianti - vivid fruit, bracing acidity and firm structure. The purity and precision on display here is hard to comprehend...unless you have spoken with Paolo and understand his devotion to detail. A joy now and this should evolve effortlessly for at least 15 years. Bellissimo!
About this wine
100% new clone Sangiovese from vineyards ranging in age from 10 - 48 years planted in soil of Alberese (compact clay & limestone), Galestro (schistous clay) and a sand-clay mixture, all at elevation of 450m.
The grapes are de-stemmed and vinified with skins on for 14 days. Malolactic fermentation is done with wild yeast and spontaneous wild bacteria. Paolo uses a peristalic pump to very gently circulate the wine in the steel tanks. Then it ages for 30 months in large, 30-year old oak foudres before returning to the steel tanks for final blending and is bottled without filtration.
About the grape
Sangiovese is the most planted grape in Italy and is the dominant grape throughout the central part of the country. There are many variants and even different names like Prugnolo Gentile, Brunello, Sangioveto and Morellino.
The grapes are dark and thick skinned, slow-ripening, acidic and tannic. Like Pinot Noir, Sangiovese is heavily influenced by its terroir and similarly can be quite transparent in its differences from place to place.
Traditionally, Sangiovese-based wines (except in Montalcino) have other grapes mixed in, but in recent history there have been many successful wines produced from 100% Sangiovese. So, today, they are quite common.
About the vintage
2011 was a yo-yo year for weather - except August, which was consistently scaldingly hot. Those who knew when to pick, like Cianferoni, produced rich wines that also were fresh and lively.
On your table
Gotta be pasta! If we were in Italy it would be wild boar (Cinghale), which you can find in the US, but not so readily. Instead, homemade tagliatelle with beef and veal ragu. The idea is to minimize the tomato presence so as not to compete with the vibrancy of the Sangiovese. Cellar temperature for the wine, of course.
Paolo Cianferoni has been hard at work for 36 years on his farm, Caparsa, in Radda-In-Chianti, which his father bought in 1965 - one of the first vineyard purchases in Chianti Classico after World War II. He and his wife and five children proudly and dutifully care for 10 hectares of vineyards and a 17th century cellar - both organically.
The vineyards have a northeastern exposure and sit 450 meters above sea level, which is apparent during the drive there - half fun, half harrowing. Paolo only keeps one-third of his grape production. Limiting means he can work with his very best crop and keep tight control over the 20,000 bottles he produces.
Paolo works and talks at breakneck speed but seems to miss nothing. He is a traditionalist, conservationist, perfectionist and is terroir-driven, and none just a little. He claims to drink a liter of wine each day, which is why he insists it be made in the healthiest way. Frankly, I think it’s because his wines are so damn good.