Macigno | A soil type defined by Tom Stevenson as a ‘hard grey-blue sandstone found in the Chianti region.’ It is also found in Montalcino. Bill Nesto & Frances Di Savino (2016, p.111) describe macigno as a local Chianti word for arenaria, or sandstone rock which erodes into sand, adding that patches of foliated arenaria occur in the Ruffoli and Lamole areas of Greve-in-Chianti. The word is pronounced in Italian as ma-she-knee-oh.

Ian D’Agata (2019, p.277-8) defines macigno as ‘a mix of sands and compacted sands but is more accurately defined as one of the layers in a flysch of turbid origin (the geologic deposit of a turbidity current) formed during the Oligocene and Inferior Miocene (Migliorini 1943; Kuenen and Migliorini, 1950). It has a lower calcium carbonate content than both alberese and galestro, and its soil are characterized by excellent drainage (even too good drainage in droughty hot years).’

Wine style | Federica Mascheroni Stianti of the Castello di Volpaia estate in Radda in Chianti told me the ‘Macigno del Chianti’ soil in her estate ‘is a sandstone. When you work the soil it becomes sand, quite loose, so the vine roots can go deep down to 4 or 5 metres underground where they get water. Wines from this soil are elegant. You will never have a body builder. This same soil of Volpaia is also present in Albola [see Castello di Albola)], in Lamole, and in many other places here in Chianti Classico. It’s a bit darker, compared to all the other stones you find lyingaround. If you walk around the village of Volpaia you see the walls of the buildings are quite dark.’ 

Bibliography

Bill Nesto MW & Frances Di Savino, Chianti Classico, the Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine, (University of California Press, 2016).

Dr Ian d’Agata, Native Wine Grape Terroirs (University of California Press, 2019).

Tom Stevenson, The Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia 5th Edition (Dorling Kindersley, 2011), p.19.