2017 Castellinuzza e Piuca Chianti Classico
2017 Castellinuzza e Piuca Chianti Classico

2017 Castellinuzza e Piuca Chianti Classico

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This is one of those rare wines (like the Digoia-Royer Chambolle-Musignys, which I adore), that takes the kind of raw material that could make a “blockbuster,” but instead treats (and extracts) it very gently to make something much more beautiful.

I’m going to quote extensively from the importer, PortoVino, here because they get it:

Lamole is a ragged valley of terraced vineyards, woods, and a sleepy hamlet of 35 habitants. It’s often called il tetto del Chianti, the rooftop of Chianti, for its altitude and position

The vineyards of Podere Castellinuzza (castell-IN-ooz-a)* are located at 550 meters, just below the hamlet of Lamole proper at 600 meters. Owner Paolo Coccia was a mezzadro, a sharecropper, before his father, Gino, bought the property in 1961. He still maintains his daily habit of taking a small footpath from his house, past the chickens and fruit trees, to the vineyards. He comes home to eat pranzo and cena; otherwise you’ll find him in the vineyard. And he’s in good company there.The centenarian bush-vines — a few reaching almost 150 years old — are grown on native rootstocks. Vines this old are rarely seen in Italy, let alone Chianti. The principal reason the vines have survived phylloxera and continue to thrive today is due to the local soil called Macigno del Chianti, which is compressed sandstone (arenaria in Ital.) with traces of Silicon. The soil has a soft gray color, the same soil tilled will turn a shining ochre No matter the color, this soil drains so well that when you walk in the vineyards after a rainstorm, you won’t see your footprints. 

Take the footpath back again (maybe plucking a fig for yourself), and you’ll find the cellar door that leads under the house. Paolo’s daughter Serena follows the wines in the cantina when she’s not helping her father in the vineyard. A natural and slow native yeast fermentation takes place in large glass-lined cement containers. There is minimal iintervention at all stages and no rush; the wine is released when it’s ready.

The other wine (their top one) actually has ‘Chianti Classico’ written on the label and follows the relevant DOCG rules of not adding white grapes. It contains 95% Sangiovese di Lamole and 5% of the local Canaiolo. The depth, complexity, and articulation of the fruit of this bottling, using the best grapes and oldest vines, in no way diminishes its drinkability. This is one of those wines that drinks well when released from the winery but also ages with grace in the cellar. I’ve had bottles from the 1970s that were outstanding.

These are unadulterated, adult wines with structure built from acidity more than tannins. If you’ve become a disenchanted Chianti naysayer over the years, Sangiovese grown in Lamole’s high-altitude terroir may intrigue you enough to fall in love all over again. Taut fruit, complex minerality, and that classic leaping profumato Lamole nose of orange zest and graphite — it’s a racy Chianti. Maybe it’s the hiking we do there, but no other area in Chianti Classico makes our mouths water more.

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