In my professional life, I've frequently talked about how Sangiovese once was the red-headed stepchild of Italian wine. This name might not be fair to Sangiovese, a great and noble grape that is capable of great and nuanced wines. It is, however, fair to people. Bristling with acidity, bursting with polyphenols, and thrumming with life, Sangiovese isn't the easiest grape. For centuries, people tried to tame Sangiovese's exuberance by flattening it out in blends (often including white grapes in Chianti blends, which the DOC prohibited only in 2006). People tamped down Sangiovese's liveliness, quelled its natural zing, and bottled it in fiasco, the name for those straw-covered bottles that Chianti came in for decades. Few people knew what to do with Sangiovese, and its bad reputation bore the weight of winemakers' ineptitude.
All that began to change in the late 1970s when winemakers like Sergio Manetti in Radda's Montevertine and Giovanni Manetti in Panzano's Fontodi (they're not related, despite the name) decided to take Sangiovese seriously. Independently, they crafted thoughtful, long-aging, nuanced Sangiovese wines, and because of their work, we enjoy wines worthy of Sangiovese's ancient history. This is all to focus your attention on the 2014 Flaccianello that I'm offering today. Winemaker-owner Giovanni Manetti calls 2014 "the vintage of opportunities." A cool, classic year that fell on the heels of several warm vintages, 2014 gave Manetti and his team the kind of Sangiovese harvest that makes an unforgettable wine: balanced, elegant and surprising you at every turn. You don't want to drink the '14 Flaccianello out of the gate. Put it in your cellar. Forget about it for a few years. And then let it astonish you.
While you're waiting to drink your '14 Flaccianello, sate your Sangiovese palates with Castello di Selvole Chianti Classico. Few estates embody Chianti's history like Castello di Selvole. It's an ancient site for winemaking--it's more than a thousand years old--and it has seen Sangiovese's many iterations, renovations, and reformations. It's very hard to find Castello di Selvole's wines here in the US, and I am very excited to be able to offer you both the estate's '12 Chianti Classico and its '11 Chianti Classico Riserva. They're pure Sangiovese beauty, and they are delicious.
Finally, the dog days of summer are upon us; keep your cool with the rosé pair below!