Istine – halfway between Siena and Florence
It has been a long-held desire of ours that beside the classics of the Antinori family, we should show something from the lesser-known estates of Tuscany. Searching for the promising names of the new generation, we ended up in Radda, with the wines of Angela Fronti.
The upcoming sub-region of the Chianti Classico wine region, Radda, is located halfway between Siena and Florence. It has always lived in the shadow of the neighbouring villages, as consumer tastes sought deep coloured, super ripe and dense wines, and the windy vineyards here were not made for such wines. However, the demand for fresher flavours, livelier fruit and zestier acidity, alongside substance, has risen. Therefore, this village is stepping out of the shadows, with better and better wines emerging.
There’s a strong sense of community, almost everyone organically cultivates their grapes, which are grown on only 10% of the hills, while the rest is a colourful landscape of thick forest and olive groves. They are extremely proud of the Sangiovese variety, and the approach of the winemakers here can be compared more with Burgundy, than with Bordeaux. They talk about vineyards, the colour of the wines are paler, with brighter fruit and great zestiness. Of course, the hedonistic tone is still there, as we are in the heart of Tuscany, among Italian winemakers.
The Fronti family has been working with the land, the grapes and the harvest for many decades. They’d already been growing grapes for big-name estates and olive orchards; thus, they knew exactly which hillsides were worth investing in. The fruit of their labour is the Istine vineyard, which also provides the name of the estate. Despite the good qualities, they never bottled their own wines – until 2009, they sold their wine by the barrel to larger estates. That was until Angela returned home as a qualified winemaker, and the organic growing, the style and the fame of the wines can be linked to her. The estate’s 20 hectares of vines can be found scattered around several vineyards. The main variety, besides Trebbiano and Merlot, is Sangiovese here as well – the same way as on the nearby cult estate, where the La Pergole Torte is made.
In the cellar
In the same way as her creative partners, Angela also seeks lighter drinkability and delicate balance in the cellar. The wine is made via spontaneous fermentation, long maceration in concrete vats, and ageing can only be carried out in grandi botti, which are large, 10-20 hectolitre barrels.
This is their most important wine, and the one they started out with in 2009. Its base material is picked from the Istine vineyard, which is located next to the cellar, and then blended with several plots, depending on the vintage. After the spontaneous fermentation and pressing, the wine ages until the next harvest in 10-20 hectolitre Slavonian oak barrels. It’s floral, rich and vibrant.
Levigne – Chianti Classico Riserva
A lengthily-matured Riserva from the best barrels of the cellar. After a year of ageing, the best barrels from the various vineyards are blended and then aged for another year with the final proportion. After bottling, Levigne, which is the top wine of the estate, spends another year in the bottle before it is put on the market.
Angela Fronti’s name is increasingly mentioned in the wine world, from the classic wine press to the innovative voices, and her wines are making an impression everywhere. Alongside the classic Sangiovese character, they have infinite balance, and the thirst-quenching palate has just the right amount of substance, and exciting green herb, tea notes, as well as subtle oak. Some of the best stuff we’ve tasted lately.