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July 01, 2014

Fontodi Flaccianello & Vigna del Sorbo 2009

Fontodi

Fontodi is a Tuscan powerhouse! Its famous Flaccianello della Pieve is one of the most central and important single varietal Super Tuscans, a standout wine and one to collect as a vertical. The single vineyard, Fontodi Vigna del Sorba has cemented itself as ‘potentially’ the finest Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon blend, 95% of the former and 5% the latter, thereby allowing it to be a DOCG wine.

They both began as single vineyard crus in 1981, sourced from the vineyard which they are eponymously named. This created two huge Tuscan red wines which are known for synthesising Italy’s traditional characteristics of Sangiovese with modern vinification techniques. The progeny of this wine making decision resulted in Flaccianello della Pieve which has achieved Super Tuscan status and the simply glorious Vigna del Sorbo.

Their vineyards are located near Panzano, the viticulural 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, originally from a  vineyard that heralds back to the 8th Century.

Fontodi Flaccianello 2009 - £210, 6×75 IB or £266.76 incl. duty and VAT 
Fontodi’s Flaccianello is assembled from their very best parcels of Sangiovese and is known for adhering to biodynamic principles in order to maximise fruit vigour. Fermentation and maceration is undertaken for 25 days in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. They use the punching down method, with the temperatures reaching 30°, in order to extract natural power, finesse and tannic structure. Once they are happy with the extraction, the wines are racked in 100% new French oak, leaving no expense spared, where the wine remains for 24 months. Flaccianello 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.

Fontodi only produce 4,000 cases of Flaccianello per year, far less than Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Solaia and Tignanello. It is one of the Super Tuscan wines one should collect now before prices increase dramatically, driven by ever growing global demand. We released the 2010 last year, it sold out immediately and are therefore we are delighted to be able to source a parcel of the superb 2009 for £210 per case of six bottles. This makes it the most undervalued vintage in terms of Price Over Points of the last five years and hugely appealing for consumption or investment: the UK average market price per is above £250 per case.

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James Suckling prefers the 2009 to the 2010, as does The Wine Spectator who awarded it 96 points. Galloni states that the 2009 ‘is a huge wine that definitely shows the richness of the year, yet somehow retains the fabulous balance‘. At £35 a bottle this wine is hugely undervalued against its peer and should not to be missed.

James Suckling – 95 points
A structured red with polished tannins and subtle vanilla, chocolate and currant character on the nose and palate. Full body, with integrated tannins and a compacted palate. Builds on the palate. Muscular and intense. Needs until 2015 to soften. Try it then.

Fontodi Vigna del Sorbo 2009 - £140, 6×75 IB or £182.76 incl. duty and VAT 
Fontodi is known best for Flaccianello, a wine that is threatening to join Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Masseto, Solaia and Tignaello as one of Italy’s leading Super Tuscans. However as Antonio Galloni states after tasting a full vertical of this wine, ‘Vigna del Sorba is Fontodi’s flagship wine. It’s as simple as that….Readers who aren’t familiar with Vigna del Sorbo owe it to themselves to check it out what is without question one of the great reds of Italy.’ After tasting a full vertical Galloni also concluded that Vigna Del Sorbo is a more consistent performer than Flaccionello, displaying more finesse and pedigree. The wine spends two full years in barrel, in a combination of untoasted and light toast fine French grain barrels. Blending takes place after ageing is completed, where they introduce the Cabernet Sauivgnon. Vigna del Sorbo has been made since 1985, however from 2010 the wine will be sold under Tuscany’s new and highest designation, Gran Selezione, to read more about this new classification click here.

We have tasted the 2009 and its is staggeringly good, with incredibly ripe tannin, extraordinary fruit concentration, yet superbly balanced, at £23 a bottle in bond or £30 duty and VAT paid this competes with Guidalberto as the best value great wine of Italy, however with 95 points critics believe it surpasses it.

James Suckling – 95 points
Big and rich style with velvety tannins and lots of berry, chocolate and vanilla character. Juicy wine. Always one of the best riserva Chiantis out there. Great now but even better with a little more bottle age. Try in 2014.

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