Montevertine – From the importer
Montevertine is situated in the heart of the Chianti district about halfway between Florence and Siena, specifically 3 kilometers or so south of Radda in Chianti. Documents attest to the fact that the hilltop hamlet of Montevertine was first inhabited in the 11th century as a rural defensive fortress. There are traces of the original construction on the site today. Sergio Manetti acquired Montevertine in 1967 as a vacation home for his family. Once there, Manetti planted two hectares of vineyards and built a small cantina with the idea of producing some wine for family and friends. The first vintage produced and bottled under the supervision of Manetti was 1971 and it received great praise for its quality.
Having recognized the importance of the Sangiovese grape, Manetti crafted his wines with an almost exclusive reliance on that grape variety. By 1981, due to his refusal to incorporate Trebbiano into the blends, Montevertine left the Chianti Classico consortium, thereby forgoing the denomination on the label. In time the consortium recognized the wisdom of Manetti’s stance but Montevertine remains outside the consortium, simply labeling its wines “Rosso di Toscana”. Because of these circumstances, Montevertine is frequently, but erroneously, included in the category of “Super Tuscan” wine. In fact, Montevertine’s policy of strict reliance on Sangiovese with a small complement of Colorino and Canaiolo is in direct contradiction to the approach of the “Super Tuscan” group of wines, which purposely include non-local grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.
Recent years have seen a generational shift at the Montevertine estate with the passing of Sergio Manetti, Giulio Gambelli (the estate’s oenologist for many years, and a fierce proponent of the Sangiovese grape), and most recently Bruno Bini (the cellar master). Montevertine is now in the hands of Martino Manetti, son of Sergio, and Paolo Salvi, Gambelli’s protégée, both of whom remain dedicated to the style and philosophy of their forebears. “Change nothing,” they say.
Le Pergole Torte
Produced primarily from a two-hectare vineyard planted in 1968 (exclusively Sangiovese) the vines have a north-northeast exposure. One of the misconceptions about Le PergoleTorte however is that it is a single vineyard wine. That was true up to the late 1980s. By 1990 Pergole Torte had become a selection of the estate’s best fruit across several parcels, although it wasn’t until 2001 that the fruit was sourced from the same basic complement of vineyards that is used today.
The estate sits at 1400 feet in elevation and has 18 hectares (45 acres) of vines under total ownership. They manually harvest 100% Sangiovese and vinify the grapes in cement. Then racked to Slavonian oak barrels that range in size from 5 to 18 hectoliters, the wine rests for 18 months before being moved to French casks for the final six months of aging. All wine movement is done by gravity, no pumping, and the wine is bottled without filtration where it rests for an additional six months before release in Europe.
For those of you who read this far, the closest rough translation of Le Pergole Torte is Crooked Pergolas, which seems to suggest that back in 1968, when planting the vineyard, there may have been an old rundown arbor on the property…covered with grape vines of course, or perhaps bougainvillea.
Label paintings by Alberto Manfredi.