Sangiovese struggles due to inconsistent producers and over-expansion of plantings, not inherent potential. The best of Sangiovese belong among the world’s greatest wines. But, too many Chiantis and Brunellos destroy the grape’s potential with a heavy hand and poor farming that doesn’t let the elegant and transparent grape express its terroir.
And that is one of Sangiovese’s great qualities among red wines – it is a true terroir grape, more like the white grape Riesling than most other reds. Purely fruited, highly aromatic, and high in acidity (rather than tannin) it does best with neutral fermentation. It should be treated with finesse and planted thoughtfully and carefully.
L’Aietta, a producer I had not previously been exposed to, is among the group of top producers of Sangiovese. Situated in the storied zone just south of Montalcino among the region’s best producers such as Conti Costanti, Gianni Brunelli, Biondi Santi, et al, L’Aietta is a newer addition inspired by the great classicists. In fact, the vineyard was planted in 2001 by an 18 year old Francisco on a 1 hectare parcel of land his parents bought for ‘picnicking’.
These are wines fermented neutrally with indigenous yeasts in steel and old oak. Francisco clearly understands the high elevation site, and allow the fresh cut form, and tender aromatics full expression. The vines are bush vine trained due to the rocky terroir that doesn’t support the poles necessary for trellising, but the method seems to work perfectly at this steep site.
This wine is pale red, with a seductive nose, and is a food lover’s dream. The price is fair for the quality, which I would rank alongside the entry level Biondi-Santi. This is a very small producer and is very hard to find outside of Italy. I highly recommend this wine for lovers of classic Sangiovese.
Excellent to Excellent+
$95 at Cellar Direct (for the 2013)