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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Le Cinciole Chianti Classico

Italy (Tuscany)

sangiovese (98%), canaiolo

www.cinciole.it

Le Cinciole Chianti Classico 2007

A warm and dark cherry red in colour, with altogether pleasant fruit aromas, tinged with an attractive earthiness. Medium-bodied. Light and lively, with an edge of tannic minerality. Possesses a charm, a sunny acidity, nicely contained. Drinks very well indeed throughout an evening. Pizza or pasta — an enriching accompaniment to either, or both, or something more.  $

Le Cinciole is the work of Valeria Viganò and Luca Orsini, owners of the winery since 1991, when they left their jobs in Milan (as a professor of mathematics and an architect) and transplanted themselves to rural Tuscany and to a life as winemakers. From the beginning the focus has been on quality, with just three wines produced, all red. (Very recently they have added a fourth, a rosé.) Their Chianto Classico makes up most of the production, and at that only 35,000 bottles annually.

There are eleven hectares under vine, at an average altitude of  450 metres above sea level, many of them situated just outside the village of Panzano, in the very centre of the Chianti Classico region. Other parcels are on the higher slopes of the renowned “Conca d’Oro.”  The soil is “galestro”, the clay-schist marl typical of Chianti.

Le Cinciole has been certified organic since 2005. Yet the owners see their certification as being far from an end in itself, but rather ‘the new starting point for constant research of a sustainable production.’

They see the soil as the dominant influence on the character of their wines. While maintaining healthy soil, alive with microorganisms, is a priority, so too is careful and constant vine management. Short pruning with a thin canopy brings production to an average of 30 hectolitres per hectare. A recent innovation has been the use of wireless sensors in the vineyards, allowing constant monitoring through a GPRS system, with online data access.

Overall, the work with the sangiovese grape in the cellar is natural and non-interventionalist. The Chianti Classico is aged for a year in 20-hectolitre oak ovals. ‘Our aim is to exalt the characteristics of the grape conserving as far as possible the primary fragrances and pleasant nature of a young wine.’ To the table comes a typically food-friendly wine, yet standing apart in quality from its peers, a considerable achievement by this pair of very committed winemakers in what is among the most renowned of Italy’s wine regions.

Of the Le Cinciole 2007 Chianti Classico, top wine critic Stephen Tanzer has said, ‘It’s hard to argue with greatness: for my money, this is one of the better expression of sangiovese from anywhere in Italy.’ Noteworthy praise by any standard.

(With thanks to “Pasta Sfoglia”, a new favourite pasta cookbook.)

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