Alberese is a soil type defined by Tom Stevenson (2011) as ‘a compact clay and limestone found in the Chianti region.’ It is also found elsewhere (see below). Ian D’Agata (2019: p.277-8) defines alberese as ‘a mix of whitish calcareous marls and yellowish calcareous deposits–a very hard, marly stone not unlike limestone; its name derives from the Latin word albus (meaning white) and refers to the stone’s whitish color because of its very high calcium carbonate content. It is not unlike the albariza of Jerez, but Chianti’s alberese is darker, more compact, and richer in stones.’
In Montalcino: Francesco Leanza, former owner of Salicutti in Montalcino described the alberese in his (then) vineyards as ‘a sedimentary rock typical of the south eastern area of Montalcino. It is called alberese or the Santa Fiora formation, a stratified type of friable marl which is 86 million years old, very fragile, and was formed on the of the sea floor, a long way from here. It comprises clay, limestone and sand (like white crystals) and when broken flakes, and looks like like pastry leaves. It has a pH of 8.5.’
In Chianti Classico DOCG: Zonin’s website for its Castello di Albola estate in Radda in the Chianti Classico DOCG defines alberese as ‘fine-grained, compact limestone.’ Paolo Cianferoni of Caparsa also in Chianti Classico DOCG says alberese is composed of ‘sedimentary compact limestone.’ Other descriptions include ‘a marl limestone with a high concentration of calcium carbonate’.
In Colline Lucchesi: Saverio Petrilli of Tenuta di Valgiano calls alberese a calcareous clayey marl.
Wine style: Sangiovese grown on alberese takes on a flinty mineral character, Séan O’Callaghan told me.
Tom Stevenson (2011), The Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia 5th Edition (Dorling Kindersley, 2011, p17).
Dr Ian d’Agata, Native Wine Grape Terroirs (University of California Press, 2019).