Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve is a remarkable wine, made with consummate precision, it is powerful and elegant, age worthy and collectable. It is one of our favourite wines, not least due to the alluring price point. In her report The Tuscan Ten, which compares the finest wines in Tuscany, Monica Larner of the Wine Advocate states that Fontodi is not only one of Italy’s jewels, but ‘one of the finest wine estates in the world.’ I agree wholeheartedly, Fontodi Flaccianello is one of my favourite wines from anywhere and their Chianti Classico is the finest of its kind. Both offer incredible value for money. In 2014, despite a trying vintage, Flaccianello has received one of its highest ever scores from James Suckling who has awarded it 97 points. Moreover, Monica Larner has awarded Flaccianello the highest score of any wine in 2014 scoring it 95 points. Where a wine has not yet been released, the table below provides the expected release price of the other leading 2014s from Larner’s report. It is evident from the table that Flaccianello is truly special, both in terms of price and quality.
|2014||Marchesi Antinori Solaia||95||£730|
|2014||Tua Rita Redigaffi||94||£690|
|2014||Le Macchiole Messorio||(93-95)||£630|
|2014||Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve||95||£260|
|2014||Isole e Olena Cepparello||(93-95)||£260|
Furthermore, Flaccianello displays excellent vintage premium. It is released on allocation, such is its demand and the Estate only produce 5,000 cases a year. It is very hard to source in older vintages; few clients would ever want to re-sell this sumptuous wine. In 2014 the leading estates made on average between 20%-60% of their normal production and Flaccianello has been greatly reduced. That said, it sells out on allocation every year and rises in price quickly once in bottle. The 2011 Flaccianello already trades as £420 per case of six, the wine is clearly an excellent investment also: I buy it perennially, I don’t re-sell!
Fontodi Chianti Classico is the finest of its kind and the most highly regarded. It is the Chianti Classico to buy year on year, to be drunk and enjoyed with dinner, or on its own. Stylistically, Fontodi Chianti Classico is weightier than the Chianti paradigm, with more body and fruit focus. However, after a few years in bottle it takes on a Burgundian bravura, combining balance, finesse and power. Today we are delighted to be able to offer a case of six bottles for £80 in bond: at £13.30 per bottle, this could be the best value for money to be found anywhere in Italy and perhaps the world.
The Truly Great Flaccianello
Flaccianello is made from 100% Sangiovese, eponymously named after the vineyard Flaccianello della Pieve. The combination of the terroir and attention to detail throughout the wine making process has led to accolades such as three appearances in the Wine Spectator’s Top 10 Wines of the Year in seven years and aggregate critic scores that compete with Bordeaux’s First Growths.
Their vineyards are located near Panzano, the viticultural epicentre of Chianti and a place close to my heart for its staggering beauty. The vineyards benefit from their position in a naturally occurring amphitheatre, known locally as Conca d‘Oro (the golden shell), with a southern facing aspect and superb marl soil which aids in water retention throughout the warm Summers. Taken together, these conditions fashion grapes with wonderful sugar and tannin potential. The marl soil, elevation and great drainage allow the owners, Marco and Giovanni Manetti, along with the winemaker Franco Bernabei, to harvest grapes with almost perfect ripeness and balance. Marco and Giovanni are brothers and cousins of the original visionaries of the Manetti family who founded Fontodi in 1969, a vineyard that heralds back to the 8th Century.
Flaccianello is one of the greatest wines to come out of Tuscany and has achieved the status as a leading light in Italy. The wine is recognised for its supreme elegance, intensity and capacity for bottle age. In its youth it displays dark cherry, plums, violets, and intoxicating sweet spice flavours of cinnamon with a delightful savoury character, enveloping chocolate, tobacco and almond. With age it resonates with the very best of Sangiovese, taking on notes of liquorice, smokiness, rosemary and flavours that turn my head; porcini mushroom and truffle.
Fontodi Flaccianello 2014, 6×75, £260 IB or 6×150, £650 IB
Very precise and focused with blueberry, blackberry and currant character. Chewy yet tight tannins. Full body and fabulous density and length. A classic. Needs five or six years to open completely but so beautiful in its youth. Real deal. From organically grown grapes. Pure sangiovese. 97 Points, James Suckling
Like the Vigna del Sorbo, the 2014 Flaccianello della Pieve spends a few additional months in botte grande than usual. The wine still breathes in large oak cask, but the environment is slightly more reductive (oxygen-free) compared to smaller barrique, thus allowing for a more complete and slower integration that is necessary in a cool vintage like this. The result is a beautifully complete wine that takes a few minutes to spread its wings. The bouquet starts off with a timid personality, but soon reaches a full regime of red fruit and spice that is so specific to this celebrated selection of Sangiovese from Panzano in Chianti. The September heat (following a gray, soggy summer) helped to eventually achieve fully ripened tannins. There is no greenness or astringency to disturb the soft and velvety mouthfeel. Thanks to severe fruit selection, production of the 2014 Flaccianello della Pieve is one-third less than average. Giovanni Manetti calls 2014 “a vintage of opportunity.” Although Panzano saw less average rainfall in 2014 compared to neighboring villages, Fontodi vineyards required double the work that year. This is an impressive achievement. 95 Points, Monica Larner
Fontodi Chianti Classico 2014, 6×75, £80 IB or 6×150, £180 IB
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