Fontodi is an organic winery in Panzano in Chianti, a locality (‘frazione’) within Greve in Chianti in the Chianti Classico DOCG region of Tuscany, Italy. The Manetti family has owned Fontodi since 1968. Family members have been in Chianti for centuries, producing terracotta at their family business in Ferrone which dates from the 1600s. This has paved the floor in the Botticelli room in the Uffizi and still makes replacement tiles, to Brunelleschi’s original design, for the dome of Florence’s cathedral, and the tiles have to be aged 20 years before being put in place (Victoria Moore, 28 Mar 2015). In 1979 Giovanni Manetti (born 1964) and his elder brother Marco started working here, when Marco was 18 and Giovanni was 16. (They succeeded Domizano and Dino Manetti.) Since 1990 Giovanni has run the vineyard whilst his elder brother Marco has run the tile factory. They initially agreed to swap jobs every two years but this never happened, although both initially chose wine over terracotta. As well as Chianti Classico wines are made under the Colli della Toscana Centrale denomination. A Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC is also made.
Staff: Consultant oenologist: Franco Bernabei.
Vineyards: In Panzano’s amphitheatre-like ‘conca d’oro’. | 2005 Around 62-70ha in the ‘conca d’oro’ (‘golden bowl’) of Panzano. Soils contain galestro. Giovanni Manetti told me (2005 visit) likes 420A as a rootstock for Sangiovese as it is not too vigorous. He trialled Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon but found they did not ripen. Manetti says the Sangiovese clones they had were “good but not exceptional, and I prefer my massale”. Sangiovese is mainly guyot pruned. | 2016 Around 90 ha (222 acres) of vineyard, 90% of which are Sangiovese.
Viticulture: In a ‘phone conversation with Giovanni Manetti 06th Oct 2016 he told me: “Climate change means we do less trimming now. Alcohol levels are coming down, stabilising. Compost means that even in Panzano when we have more than three months without rain the leaves on our vines are still green, still working. Not a ‘stop’ and ‘go’ situation. I like the Biodynamic idea of your land becoming a self-sustaining organism. But we do not use the Biodynamic preparations. We prefer to have animals like our herd of Chianina cows (here since 1996) for their manure and the positive effect this has once composted on our soils. Around 90% of vineyards in Panzano are organic now. After the 1956 frost many of the olive trees here were dead, and the vines were damaged. In 1957 there was a conference to see what could be done about this situation. Experts from Italy came to discuss the future of the zone and a book detailing this was written. At that time 10,000 people were living in Chianti Classico but they were outnumbered by cows, of which there were 12,000 of the Chianina type (for beef). This meant there were 1.2 cows per person.’
Organic certification: 1990 First organic trials. | 1998 First vintage with full organic certification. | 2018 Still certified organic.
Winery: In 1987 a new winery was completed. In 1998 another new cellar was completed in time for the 1998 vintage. Striking architecturally. Gravity-fed, spacious barrel cellar, outer walls are temperature-controlled via a humidifer water and can maintain the correct humidity inside.
Merino: 2000 60% Pinot Bianco (barrel fermented), 40% Sauvignon Blanc. | 2015 IGT Colli della Toscana Centrale (see here for more on this denomination.) Stelvin. Sauvignon Blanc, part fermented in new oak with six months on lees.
Case Via Pinot Nero: 1999 100% Pinot Noir.
Case Via Syrah: 2001 100% Syrah. 10,000 bottles. From Syrah planted in 1981 (French clones 875, 470 mainly) and replants. Guyot. Galestro soil, more Cote Rotie rather than Hermitage. Nice rich nose, deepish colour, some chocolate and aggressive acid and wood, sweetish, but not bad at the winery in 2005.
Chianti Classico DOCG, Fontodi: 2002 The only wine they made in 2002. From Sorbo and Flaccianello parcels. Said just to be Sangiovese. Quite a hot finish but nice simple red fruit and a bit of oak at the winery in 2005. | 2015 100% Sangiovese. | 2016 100% Sangiovese.
Chianti Classico DOCG Filetta di Lamole: 2015 100% Sangiovese. | 2016 100% Sangiovese.
Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva, Vigna del Sorbo: Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva, Fontodi Vigna del Sorbo. Giovanni Manetti told me that from 2012 he decided to make Vigna del Sorbo solely from Sangiovese as he preferred it to a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon. He grubbed up the Cabernet vineyard so all following vintages are made from only Sangiovese. | 1998 90% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. | 1999 Bottled. | 2001 90% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Nice fruit, clear style, nice red and black, seems quite a Sangiovese style as the CS is not too intrusive; has nice length too and good balance of fruit and wood at the winery in 2005. | 2011 90% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione, Vigna del Sorbo: 2013 100% Sangiovese. 24 months in French oak, 50% new. Certified organic. | 2014 14.5%. 100% Sangiovese. | 2015 100% Sangiovese.
Flaccianello della Pieve: Made from the best Sangiovese. 50,000 bottles. | 1990 Vina da Tavola di Toscana Rosso 40,000 bottles. | 1991 Vina da Tavola di Toscana Rosso. 20,000 bottles. | 1999 Bottled. | 2001 IGT Toscana Rosso. Nice elegant style, crisp red fruit and decent length too and quite savoury at the winery in 2005. | 2009 IGT Colli della Toscana Centrale. 14.5%. 70,000 bottles. | 2013 IGT Colli della Toscana Centrale | 2015 IGT Colli della Toscana Centrale. 100% Sangiovese.
Dino: A red aged in amphora made by the family’s terracotta business (see above).
Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC: Giovanni Manetti told me the Sangiovese gives the Vin Santo its freshness and a mouth cleaning quality. | 1993 16.0% alcohol. | 1996 None made. | 1997 50% Malvasia Bianca, 50% Sangiovese. Grapes dried for around five months until the end of February. Aged in small caratelli of 50-110 litres for 6 years. The madre is from Fontodi. 2,000 375ml bottles. Lovely nut and sweetness at the winery in 2005.
Olive oil: Il Canonici’ (River Café Label) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Via San Leolino, 87
I-50020 Panzano in Chianti (SI = Siena), Italy
Tel+39 055.852005 | www.fontodi.com
Bill Nesto MW & Frances Di Savino, Chianti Classico, the Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine, (University of California Press, 2016).
Oz Clarke 2015, Oz Clarke Wine A-Z (Pavilion, 2015), p119.
Victoria Moore, ‘Were the Romans right to make wine in clay pots?’ The [London] Daily Telegraph 28 Mar 2015