Rocca di Montegrossi is located near Monti in Chianti, one of the finest sections of Chianti Classico, about 7 km south of Gaiole in Chianti. The cellars are near the Romanesque church of San Marcellino. Rocca di Montegrossi’s owner, Marco Ricasoli-Firidolfi, is descended from a family that played a central role in the history of the Chianti Classico region and laid the foundations for Chianti Classico wine. The estate extends over an area of 100 hectares; 20 are planted to vine, another 20 are olive groves, and the remainder is woodland.
The vineyards, on gentle south and southeast-facing hillsides with calcareous loamy soils, are at elevations between 340 and 510 meters above sea level. The vineyards are planted primarily to the varietals traditionally grown in Chianti Classico, though there is also a small percentage of international varietals. The primary varietal is Sangiovese, with13 hectares, followed by Merlot, with 2.5 hectares, while the remaining 4.5 hectares are planted to Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pugnitello, and Malvasia Bianca del Chianti. Planting density ranges from 3.300 vines per hectare in the older vineyards, trainedto the unilateral horizontal cordon spur system, to between 5,208 and 6,211 vines per hectare in the more recent vineyards, which are trained to the bilateral horizontal cordon spur system and guyot. Rocca di Montegrossi’s olive groves are planted around the winery,on gentle, wellexposed slopes, under ideal conditions for the production of high quality oil. The estate boasts about a thousand trees, which are the Coreggiolo and Moraiolo cultivar. The olive groves are planted in the traditional coltura promiscua manner, interspersed with other fruit trees, and in keeping with the traditions of Chianti, are pruned in the polyconic vase system.
All of Rocca di Montegrossi’s olive groves and vineyards have been organically managed since 2006 (certified since 2010) and the estate has also adoptedenvironmentally friendly policies. To meet farming needs, rainwater is gathered in large cisterns, making it possible to avoid using precious drinking water, especially during the summer months, while the machinery used for tasks that are not performed by hand ispowered by either electricity.
Marco Ricasoli-Firidolfi’s passion for vineyards and fieldwork drives his entrepreneurial spirit. Indeed together with consultant agronomist Dr. Stefano Dini, Marco personally oversees all the operations in the vineyards; his goal is to reach the perfect balance between growth and production through daily care of the vines, from short pruning to reduced carefully reasoned fertilization, from the planting of ground cover to the variouskinds of green pruning, including bunch thinning, crown pruning, and defoliation a few weeks prior to the harvest. At Rocca di Montegrossi harvest is manual, into small baskets and is carried out in three phases to guarantee that the grapes are selected and picked only when they are perfectly ripe.
Rocca di Montegrossi’s cellars have been designed to allow Marco Ricasoli-Firidolfi and Attilio Pagli, the consulting enologist, to handle the grapes from the estate’s vineyards in the best possible, ecosustainable manner. In keeping with the organic cultivation of the vineyards, the cellars are environmentally friendly; some of the energy necessary to run them is produced by solar panels on the roof, while the remainder is exclusively from renewable sources (per the RECS International certification).
From a functional standpoint, the cellar is designed to preserve the quality of the grapes, and to do this draws on both tradition and the best of modern viticulture, from the horizontal destemmer to the glasslined cement tanks, to the upright conical Allier oak vats with temperature control and computer-governed pneumatic plungers for punch downs. The wines are aged in oak casks barriques and tonneaux. Kinds and proportions of wood are tailored to the wines and the vintages. Finally, the winery’s crown jewel is the vinsantaia, located in a well-ventilated space up under the rafters.
Here, in an airy 90-square meter room 160 nets hang from the ceiling, upon which bunches of grapes are hung, and inspected every week until they finish drying in the February of the year following the harvest. The little must emerge from the pressing goes into very small casks (either 50 or 100 litres), each made from a variety of woods (oak cherry, mulberry).
The estate produces two Chianti Classicos. Both are based on Sangiovese, which, in this area, yields an extremely elegant, balanced wine with pleasant minerality. To further increase the complexity of the wines, three indigenous complementary varietals are added: Canaiolo (in 2000 a further vineyard was planted using cuttings from selected vines in the estate’s older vineyards), Colorino, and Pugnitello. Monti in Chianti is one of the areas ofChianti best suited to the cultivation of the vine, and for this reason Marco Ricasoli-Firidolfi decided to also plant varietals that have nothing to do with tradition, but that allow the terroir to different expressions.
Planted in 1997, these varietals are used to make an IGT Toscana: Geremia, a 70%-30% Merlot – Cabernet Sauvignon blend that offers a different interpretation of the potential of the terroir. In fact, while Marco’s Chianti Classico, thoughproduced in a modern style, remains tied to the history of Chianti Classico, Geremiarepresents the land’s challenge to nonindigenous varietals. These wines are flanked by the Rosato, and by the renowned Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC, a classic wine of this region, wich – more importantly – is also the winemaker’s great love.