Our tasting impressions
Italian wines produced from international grapes were not high on our list of desired new products. Even the good ones, tend to lack a sense of place. So, we tasted this with trepidation that immediately transformed to jubilation. Yes, this IGT is made from French grapes, but it tastes Italian. in fact, it is downright Tuscan even though the varieties are well recognizable. This is a gorgeous, edgy and serious wine with a suaveness we've come to expect from Lorenzo. It should improve and evolve nicely for at least 20 years. Really classy!
About this wine
In the early 1980's Fernando decided to experiment with French grapes. He planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Initially, he blended them with Sangiovese. When the new variety vines had matured sufficiently, the Sangiovese was reclaimed for the Chianti Riserva.
The grapes are fermented separately in cement tanks - Merlot for 22 days and Cabernet for 20. The malolactic fermentation (also separate) is in steel tanks. At the end of the winter following the harvest, the blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot is made in small used (fourth passage) oak barrels where it matures for 24 months.
The wine is then bottled after a light filtration. Production is about 1200 bottles per year. Monteficalle (mountain of figs) is the ancient name of the village of Montefioralle.
About the grape blend
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are most famously blended together in Bordeaux. Both are among the most popular red wine grapes in the world and are grown almost everywhere. Cabernet is is hearty fruit that flowers and ripens late. It is highly adaptive to a wide variety of climates and soils. Its vines are capable of prodigious production, which must be restricted in order to produce the grape's best quality.
Merlot matures early but is vulnerable to rot. It enjoyed an enormous surge in popularity because it can produce wines that are plump and easy to drink. That trend reversed rather harshly. It does blend well with Cabernet because each offers what the other lacks.
About the vintage
Lorenzo's report: Unlike the previous years very high temperatures and spring and summer drought, 2018 could not sustain dry, sunny weather. It rained frequently during the summer but Montefioralle was very lucky and missed much of it. We were able to keep the vineyard rather dry but at the same time without excessive heat peaks. September was very good, sunny and with a good night-day temperature variation. This allowed us to reach levels comparable to 2016, even if it was not a particularly favorable year in most of Tuscany.
Suggested Glassware: Grassl Liberté
Montefioralle (the mountain of flowers) is a tiny, picturesque medieval hamlet in Greve in Chianti with a distinct micro-climate. If Tuscany had a Cru system, it would be a stand-out.
Renato Sieni first rented, then purchased plots from this 14th century vineyard from the church. With later acquisitions, the family now own 4 hectares, 3 of which is used for growing grapes. They also grow olives and produce a bit of fineoil.
It is very much a family micro-estate, producing about 15,000 bottles per year. Fernando (son of Renato), the octogenarian patriarch continues to manage the vineyards and advises in the cellar. Lorenzo is the principal winemaker, while maintaining a thriving digital entrepreneurial career. His sister Alessia manages the winery and their thriving tourism activities with Lorenzo's wife Manila.
The vineyards have been certified organic since 2019 and the enterprise is conducted with great consideration for its environmental impact.
Tucked away on a hillside to the west of Greve in Chianti, Montefioralle is an enchanting medieval village. As the Chianti Classico Consorzio begins its work of defining the best growing areas, there is no doubt that Montefioralle will be recognized as one of the great crus of Chianti Classico, and no one has a better position within that cru than Montefioralle.