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2020 Chianti Classico, Fontodi

Exceptional Chianti Classico from one of the region’s leading producers.

The Manetti family are really good at getting things right. With a world-class reputation for producing some of the region’s finest terracotta tiles, in the late 1960s, they decided to turn their hand to wine, purchasing a dilapidated farmhouse complete with a few hectares of vines just south of the town of Panzano. Undertaking extensive replanting and restoration of the cellars, in just a few years, they have transformed the estate from its neglected state to being one of the region’s most well-regarded and prominent producers.

Now run by the enterprising and energetic Giovanni Manetti, their 100 hectares of vineyards are located in some of the region’s most sought-after and finest terroir, the ‘conca d’oro’ (or golden shell), a natural amphitheatre facing south allowing full ripening of the Sangiovese grape, and well-draining rocky soils with a high proportion of chalk, marl and limestone. Around 450 metres above sea level, the diurnal temperature shift and these soils imbue the wine with vibrant aromatics, good acidity and freshness in spades. The attention to detail here is highly commendable, with their state-of-the-art gravity fed cellar, and organic and regenerative farming of all vineyards.

Giovanni is a man on a mission, and as well as his role at Fontodi, he also serves as Chairman of the Consorzio Chianti Classico, a body looking to promote the quality and many complexities of the region, and in particular, its sub zones. Italy may have suffered terribly during Covid-19, yet as Monica Larner highlights in the Wine Advocate, “the pandemic years were especially fruitful for Fontodi’s Giovanni Manetti.” And 2020 seems to be an excellent year too, boasting some very fine wines indeed.

The estate’s signature wine, their Chianti Classico is sourced from mostly younger vines, with a proportion of fruit from the same site with produces their top wine, Flaccianello. Do not underestimate the ageing potential of this wine. For price to quality ratio, it looks an excellent buy.

The 2020 Chianti Classico offers notable tension to balance the natural richness that is such a signature here. There is plenty of Panzano intensity, but less opulence than has been the norm in the past. A shift towards larger format oak and bottling four months earlier contribute to that feel. Dark red cherry, leather, spice, rose petal, dried herbs and wild flowers all grace this nuanced Chianti Classico. It will be interesting to see the direction this bottling takes. I would not plan on opening this too young. 2026-2040

Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, August 2023

This flagship Chianti Classico from the renowned Fontodi estate has grown over the years to its current annual production of 170,000 bottles, however it has not lost its identity, deeply rooted in a sun-drenched stretch of Panzano’s Conca d’Oro. The 2020 version has all the ripe dark fruit and assertive tannins that come so neatly into balance. Grilled meat, baked earth and thyme flirt with black plum. The youthful juiciness has the energy to carry this over the next eight or so years. It finishes with its signature bitter liquorice twist. 2024-2031

Michaela Morris, Decanter.com, February 2023

Youthful ruby. Subtle yet enticing nose of sweet red fruit with meaty notes and hints of laurel. Lots of juice on the palate and plenty of grainy but ripe tannins; but they are in perfect harmony with the succulent fruit. 2023-2032.

Walter Speller, JancisRobinson.com, April 2023