About this WINE
The estate was originally purchased in 1988 by Stak & Sharon and the first wine was produced in 1992. The Schmelzer family acquired Monte Bernardi at the end of 2003 and they are now building on what Stak successfully started, investing money in both the vineyards and the winery.
The Monte Bernardi estate extends over 52 hectares (130 acres), of which 15 hectares and 5 of those hectares are old vines of 45+ years. The vineyards are situated in the hilly, southern most region of Panzano, an area that has been acknowledged as one of the Grand Cru of Chianti Classico, and is considered capable of making wines that can compete with the best in the world. The vines are planted on a soil of a high rock content mixture, which dependent on the vineyard consists of shale (Galestro), marl and limestone (Alberese).
The vineyards are perfectly situated - standing at an altitude of 350 meters above sea level, surrounded by forests and enjoying a southern exposure, with the river Pesa flowing just a few hundred meters to the south. These factors contribute to the unique micro-climate of Monte Bernardi.
Chianti Classico is a leading Tuscan DOCG zone which covers approximately 7,000 hectares between Florence and Siena. Its vineyards stretch into the Apennine foothills at altitudes of between 150m and 500m, and encompass two distinct terroirs and styles. The sandy, alluvial soils of the lower sites yield fuller, meatier wines while the limestone and galestro rocks of the higher vineyards deliver finer, more ethereal examples.
The origins of Chianti date back to the Middle Ages, although Chianti Classico was really born in 1716 when Grand Duke Cosimo III of Tuscany classified the zone, identifying the villages of Radda, Greve, Panzano, Gaiole and Castellina as the leading sites; these same villages still represent the nucleus of the Chianti Classico DOCG today. The regulations have been revised, however, to insist that the wine is made from a minimum 80 percent Sangiovese and a maximum 20 percent Canaiolo and ameliorative grapes (ie Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon); from the 2006 vintage, no white grapes are allowed.
Chianti Classico cannot be released until 1st October in the year following the harvest, while Chianti Classico Riserva must undergo 24 months of ageing before release, including at least three months in bottle. At the region’s top addresses, French barriques are gradually being adopted in the place of the traditional, larger slavonian botte.
It is a high yielding, late ripening grape that performs best on well-drained calcareous soils on south-facing hillsides. For years it was blighted by poor clonal selection and massive overcropping - however since the 1980s the quality of Sangiovese-based wines has rocketed upwards and they are now some of the most sought after in the world.
It produces wines with pronounced tannins and acidity, though not always with great depth of colour, and its character can vary from farmyard/leather nuances through to essence of red cherries and plums. In the 1960s the advent of Super Tuscans saw bottlings of 100% Sangiovese wines, as well as the introduction of Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blends, the most famous being Tignanello.
Walter Speller. jancisrobinson.com (February 2019)