Poggibonsi is a town and commune in the Province of Siena, Tuscany, one of nine within the Chianti Classico DOCG, although in Poggibonsi’s case for only a small part of the land within its boundary, described below.
Poggibonsi lies on the western edge of the Chianti Classico zone, on the Via Cassia and Via Francigena, providing a ready stream of pilgrims and merchants (read on). Since the Unification of Italy in 1861, the province of Siena has encompassed not only the traditional region of Chianti but most of the Elsa River Valley, including the town of Poggibonsi, where were headquartered important “Chianti” merchants, (Nesto & Savino, 2016, p.43-44), who made red wines in the style of Chianti regardless of the provenance of the grapes. The merchant presence here (as in Pontassieve further north near Florence) was initially linked to the arrival of the railway which, from 1850, connected Siena to Poggibonsi and Empoli, with further links to Tuscany’s major seaport of Livorno [Leghorn] following (Nesto & Savino, 2016, p38). The town now also lies close to the dual carriageway connecting Florence with Siena (the Superstrada del Palio). Before and either side of the war, Poggibonsi was the site of the Granducato Enopolio, the winemaking facility of the Consorzio Agraria di Siena (Agricultural cooperative of Siena). It collected, blended and transported both Chianti Classico and Chianti wines, as well as Vernaccia di San Gimignano (Nesto & Savino, 2016, p71). After World War Two the town’s two most important merchants, Cecchi and Piccini, grew quickly (Nesto & Savino, 2016, p71).
World War Two: In the summer of 1944, Poggibonsi was bombed by the Allies, who were trying to dislodge German troops from the hills of Chianti, a battle which took 3 weeks (Nesto & Savino, 2016, p58).
Terroir: The commune of Poggibonsi covers a surface area of 27 square miles (71 square kilometres). Apart from a ‘small slice’ (Nesto & Savino, 2016, p105), most of Poggibonsi lies just outside the Chianti Classico DOCG zone but has played a ‘pivotal role in its history. The town was a flash point for the battles between Florence and Siena for control of Chianti, and in 1203, it was the imperial delegate of Poggibonsi who, in an arbitral decision, officially awarded control of Chianti to Florence,’ (Nesto & Savino, 2016, p97).
Chianti Classico DOCG: The area of Poggibonsi within the Chianti Classico DOCG zone is described by Alessandro Masnaghetti (2014) as ‘a small hillside ridge just to the west of the Florence-Siena highway…isolated from the rest of the appellation territory. A ridge characterised by good soil, often rather stony, and by several good positions, among which San Giorgio [where Tenuta Cinciano and Fattoria Le Fonti are located, links below] and Piecorto stand out.’
Vineyard area: 2014 32.20 hectares representing 0.50% of the Chianti Classico total vineyard area of 6,476.66 hectares, making it Chianti Classico’s smallest vineyard township (Source: Enoproject, Franco Bernabei).
Frazioni (localities): Bellavista. | Cinciano. | Staggia Senese.
No certification: Cantina Sociale Geggiano. | Cantine Guidi. | Consorzio Agrario di Siena. | Fattoria di Cinciano. | Fattoria Le Fonti (Poggibonsi). | Fattoria Montemorli. | Fattoria Poggiarello. | Melini. | Montalpruno. | Ormanni.
Bill Nesto MW & Frances Di Savino, Chianti Classico, the Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine (University of California Press 2016).
Alessandro Masnaghetti (2014), I Cru di Enogea, Chianti Classico (Alessandro Masnaghetti Editore, first edition July 2014).