Piemaggio "Le Fioraie" Chianti Classico 2016
The Piemaggio estate lies in the northwest sector of Castellina-in-Chianti, in the heart of the historical Chianti Classico zone, and traces its roots back to the 11th century; a pieve(church) from the era located at the property’s highest hilltop (maggiore) gives the estate its name. Vines cover 12 hectares worth of Piemaggio’s hillsides, all in the hamlet of La Fioraie, with Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo, and Colorino planted in the classic alberese (sandstone) and galestro (limestone marl) soils of the zone, at altitudes between 380 and 480 meters above sea level. Steady breezes and thick surrounding forests help mitigate drought and help ensure a properly long growing season.
We were clued into Piemaggio by a friend of ours who works closely with Montevertine and who deeply understands our aesthetic and approach, and from first sip these felt like a snug warm coat. Here was the magic of Sangiovese on full display, that tango of unapologetic acidity and savory fruit, shot through with a vein of bold earthiness and given form by a stony, cleansing minerality. If Piemaggio’s wines lack the aristocratic perfection of Montevertine’s, or the full-throttle wildness of Le Boncie’s, they more than compensate with delightful balance and a sheer lack of pretension. These truly could come from nowhere else, and they put the taster in direct communion with the inimitable soils of Chianti Classico.
Vineyard work here is organic unless an entire crop is on the line, and nothing that happens in the cellar is flashy or trendy; fermentations take place in cement, and aging takes place in a combination of concrete and used wooden vats of various sizes (between 500 liters and 25 hectoliters). The wines rest further in bottle, and are put up for sale ready to delight. Furthermore, in tribute to the hamlet’s origin legend, the labels all bear prominently the name La Fioraie (“the flower sellers”). According to lore, a medieval pilgrim friar passing through the area fainted of exhaustion under the intense Tuscan sun, and was revived to health by a group of three flower vendors who saw him crumple. The friar, carrying the fond memory with him during his subsequent travels, later returned to the area, built a church, and planted vines. While modern medicine may reject such a remedy for reviving consciousness, Piemaggio’s wines certainly possess the ability to resuscitate one’s faith in an often under-inspiring appellation.