Tasting Wine: In praise of Fontodi Chianti Classico

Occasionally, I dedicate this column to one producer. To do it, I need to be continually blown away by a whole portfolio. Some producers are often reliable, but when it comes to making every wine stellar all of the time, only a handful come to mind. Italy’s Fattoria Fontodi in Chianti Classico is one.

The first time I tasted a Fontodi wine was in 1990. It was the 1988 Chianti Classico; it was love at first sight. Since then, I’ve bought numerous wines and vintages, have visited the property in Panzano and tasted with the owner, Giovanni Manetti, on several occasions.

Manetti, who is movie-star handsome, was one of the leaders in the movement to modernize the laws governing the Chianti Classico designation in 1996. His family purchased the Case Via farm in 1968 and brought in renowned enologist Franco Bernabei in 1979 to consult.

From the Chianti Classico to the rare pinot noir, all of Fontodi’s wines are made from estate fruit. The winery also produces an olive oil that is out of this world. Stylistically, the wines are slightly on the traditional side, showing a lot of the dusty, tobacco character of Chianti Classico in general and licorice of Panzano without being rustic.

The wines may seem a little pricey, at least for the region, but they exemplify the fact that Chianti Classico is capable of making world-class wines. Try these, then let me know what you think.

Fontodi Chianti Classico, 2005 — Made entirely from sangiovese, this “introductory wine” is anything but simple. It’s medium-bodied with bright acidity, red currants, plums, tobacco, a hint of almond and a long, powerful finish. If only all “intro” wines were this good.

Suggested retail: $37

FontodiChianti Classico Riserva, Vigna del Sorbo, 2000 — This single vineyard wine might be considered Fontodi’s flagship. The 2000 is drinking great now, but will age for another decade. At the moment, it offers a mound of rich red currant fruit underscored by tobacco, licorice and chocolate.

Suggested retail: $62

Fontodi “Case Via” Syrah, 2003 — I’m not sure when Fontodi started bottling syrah, but I’ve had vintages going back to the early 1990s which strike a perfect balance between the inherent characteristics of syrah and its terroir. Full-bodied with huckleberry, black-cherry fruit, black pepper, tobacco and licorice, this might be Italy’s best example of the grape.

Suggested retail: $67

Pamela S. Busch is the wine director and proprietor of CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen in San Francisco.

artsentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

School board members Gabriela Lopez (left) and Alison Collins (right) say they have been the subject of frequent hateful, racist and sexist attacks during their time on the school board. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F Examiner)
Angered by Lowell decision, SFUSD grad targets school board members with violent imagery

Facebook page depicts two women of color on board with swastikas and x-marks on their faces

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a former school board member, said it was ‘ridiculous’ that the school district did not yet have a plan to reopen. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Supervisors demand SFUSD set a timeline for reopening

Pressure grows on district to resume in-person learning as The City’s COVID-19 case count goes down

“Tenet,” the new Christopher Nolan film starring John David Washington, is showing at the drive-in in Concord. (Courtesy Warner Bros.)
Drive-ins are popping up all over the Bay Area

There are pandemic-era options for movie lovers who want to watch outdoors

The San Francisco International Arts Festival will present performances this weekend outdoors at Fort Mason, including on the Parade Ground, Eucalyptus Grove and Black Point Battery. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF International Arts Festival wins health department approval for weekend performances

Rules allow no more than 50 people at outdoor Fort Mason performances

In this handout image provided by the California Department of Corrections, convicted murderer Scott Peterson poses for a mug shot March 17, 2005 in San Quentin, California. Judge Alfred A. Delucchi sentenced Peterson to death March 16 for murdering his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn child. (California Department of Corrections via Getty Images/TNS)
Prosecutors to retry penalty phase of Scott Peterson trial

2003 discovery of Laci Peterson’s body led to sensational high-profile murder trial of husband

Most Read