Castello di Monsanto is an estate in Barberino Val d’Elsa in Tuscany, Italy. It was purchased in 1961 by Fabrizio Bianchi. His daughter Laura is now in charge. Red wines are made under the Chianti Classico DOCG and Chianti DOCG. Sweet wines are Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC and Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice DOC. Fabrizio Bianchi pioneered 100% Sangiovese and single site (Riserva Il Poggio) Chianti Classico.
In detail: Aldo Bianchi, a native of San Gimignano, left Tuscany before the Second World War to seek fortune in the North of Italy. In 1960, he came back to the area for a wedding and was enchanted by the view from the terrace of Castello di Monsanto: all the Val d’Elsa with the inimitable backdrop of the Towers of San Gimignano. But if Aldo was bewitched by the landscape, Fabrizio, his son, immediately fell in love with the wines he found in the cellar. Thanks to a passion for wine handed down to him by his grandmother, who came from Piedmont, and to an innate entrepreneurial spirit, Fabrizio, together with the untiring help of his wife Giuliana, started to plant new vineyards and convert the numerous farmhouses….and an incredible story of love, passion and joy for wine and everything concerned with it, starts from here.
In 1962 Fabrizio vinified the grapes from the Il Poggio vineyard separately to create the first Chianti Classico Cru. In 1968, he decided to eliminate the white grapes (Trebbiano and Malvasia) from the Poggio blend, even though white grapes were a compulsory requirement, making it clear that Sangiovese was the way forward. He also de-stemmed his grapes, again ahead of his time, because the then common Governo all’uso Toscano re-fermentation technique was based on adding later picked whole bunches to the already fermenting wine (for wines with longer ageing potential.
Always the more convinced in the value of Sangiovese, in 1974, he created, from the Scanni vineyard, planted in 1968, the Fabrizio Bianchi Sangioveto – then labelled as Sangioveto Grosso – a table wine exclusively from Sangiovese grapes, which triggered off the enhancement of this vine in Tuscany.
As long ago as the 1970’s the use of fermenting steel containers started, substituting the wooden ones, where temperature control was much more difficult. In those same years, the use of chestnut barrels was substituted with those in Slavonia oak, with sweeter and less aggressive tannins
1974 is also the year in which the experiments to produce a white Tuscan wine: the Valdigallo vineyard was planted for the Fabrizio Bianchi Chardonnay after some years.
In 1981 the new cellar was ready and a few months later the first harvesting of Nemo, a monovarietal Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Il Mulino vineyard, was made.
In 1986, work for the construction of an underground tunnel started. Mario Secci, Giotto Cicionesi and Romolo Bartalesi, who had already worked in the company for many years, converting the farmhouses, took up the challenge : to hand-build 300 metres of an underground tunnel for the storing of wooden barrels, using only the marl stone coming from the ploughing of the vineyards, with the Medieval technique of arched wooden ribs to give shape to a very long and charming lowered Etruscan arch. In 1992, six years later, the work was completed and their spirit and strength still live in the energy of this masterpiece.
In 1989, Laura, Fabrizio’s daughter, started to work in the company and gradually learned from the land, the people who worked it and her father, the marvels and difficulties of the natural evolutive process which transforms grapes into wine.
In 1996 another important innovation was brought to the cellar: the substitution of the traditional shape of the fermenting vats to a truncated cone one, in order to fully exploit the phenomenon of the convection of the liquids generated by their specific shape, obtaining the maximum extraction from the macerating peels using the “délèstage” system (emptying).
As from 2001, Laura and Fabrizio have been sided by the collaboration of a wine maker. From this encounter with Andrea Giovannini, a strong relationship was born where the energies coming from each one become synergies for the company, all going in the same direction.
Staff: Manager: Laura Bianchi (Fabrizio Bianchi’s daughter). | Oen: Andrea Giovannini (early 2000s).
Vineyards: 260–310 metres a.s.l There are 72 hectares of vineyards. 56 hectares are Sangiovese (mass selection from the Il Poggio vineyard). Also some Canaiolo and Colorino. In 1976, Fabrizio Bianchi decided to experiment. He planted the Valdigallo vineyard with Chardonnay and the Il Mulino vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon. 5,000–5,500 vines per hectare. Both guyot and the spurred cordon.
Toscana Bianco IGT, Chardonnay Fabrizio Bianchi: Created in 1980 by Fabrizio Bianchi. He wanted to create a white wine in an area which was not especially dedicated to it. Made from Chardonnay in the Valdigallo vineyard, 3.50 hectares at an altitude of 260 metre a.s.l. exposed to the north-east. Fermented 50-50 in 500l French barrels and steel.
Toscana Rosato IGT, Fabrizio Bianchi: Sangiovese. Young vines. Unoaked.
Chianti DOCG, Monrosso | Right since 1962, the property of Castello di Monsanto is about 25 hectares of vineyards, adjacent to the rest of the lands, which are found within the area of the Chianti Colli Senesi production. Here is where the youngest and freshest wine of the company is produced : the Monrosso. Vinified in steel with 12/15 days of maceration, it ages in Slavonia oak barrels for 12 months before sale.
Chianti Classico DOCG, Castello di Monsanto: 2017 90% Sangiovese, 10% each Canaiolo and Colorino. Fermented in stainless steel. 12 months in 50hl Slavonian vats.
Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva, Castello di Monsanto: Selection of grapes from vineyards which are more suitable for long maturing. Vinified in steel with a maceration of about 20 days, and as a second passage, it is aged in smaller wooden barrels for about 18 months. | 2013 14% alc. OK, especially after it had opened for two days, nice fruit = nice terroir with some blur and green too at Viale Piave 32 in July 2017. : 2015 90% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino, 5% Canaiolo.
Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva, Il Poggio: Now a Gran Selezione–see below.
Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione, Vigna Il Poggio: The flagship wine. From the Il Poggio vineyard. 5.5ha. 310 metres a.s.l. Planted 1962,. The first Chianti Classico Cru (single vineyard wine). Made of 90% Sangiovese and from 7% Canaiolo and 3% Colorino, it ages for 20 months in French oak barrels. A single vineyard cru displaying ‘discreet austerity and need of bottle age,’ (Oz Clarke, 2015 p174). | 2012 Riserva Simple in Viale Piave 32 in June 2017, bottle given to be by Laura after the podcast day at Monte Bernardi. | 2014 95% Sangiovese, 3% Colorino, 2% Canaiolo.
Fabrizio Bianchi, Toscana Rosso IGT:100% Sangiovese. First vintage 1974. A Sangiovese selection. One of the first monovarietal Sangiovese wines in Chianti Classico. From the Scanni vineyard. Clay-marl soil. 300 metres a.s.l., exposed to south-west. Vinified in stainless steel. 18 months in 5hl French barrels.
Nemo, Toscana Rosso IGT: From theIl Mulino vineyard. 260 metres a.s.l. Planted in 1976 with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Its name comes from the famous saying “Nemo propheta in patria” which in those years – the first harvest was in 1982 – was well-suited to the avant-garde and pioneristic spirit of the company. Fermented in stainless steel. 18 months in oak.
Tinscvil, Toscana Rosso IGT
Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC, La Chimera: After the harvest, the selected grapes are dried on rush mattings until the end of January. After the start of the fermentation the must is placed in 55- and 110-litre oaken half-barriques where it matures for a period of 12 years with a series of alternating phases of fermentation. | 2006 50% Malvasia Bianca Lunga Toscana, 50% Trebbiano toscano. | 2007 50% Malvasia Bianca Lunga Toscana, 50% Trebbiano toscano.
Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice DOC | Sangiovese is used for the Occhio di Pernice Vinsanto.
Castello di Monsanto
Via Monsanto, 8
I-50021 Barberino Val d’Elsa (FI = Firenze), Italy
Tel+39 055 8059000 | wwwcastellodimonsanto.it
Bill Nesto MW & Frances Di Savino, Chianti Classico, the Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine, (University of California Press, 2016).
David Gleave, ‘The Wines of Italy‘ (Salamander Books, London, 1989), p112.
Oz Clarke, Oz Clarke Wine A-Z (Pavilion, 2015).
Castello di Monsanto