"Dino 2013", a Beautiful "Amphora" Wine By Chianti's Fontodi...

Actually for me, the real beauty of this wine is in its spirit,  it is a wine about a family, about a land, and about the circle of life.  When he created “Dino”, Giovanni Manetti did not only create a new wine for Fontondi, he created a tribute.  Named in honor of his father who passed away in the early 2000, it links the winery back to its roots. Where it all began.

The estate of Fontodi in Panzano in Chianti was purchased by Dino Manetti in 1968 and ever since the family was driven to produce wine of extremely high quality and purity.  But little known to many, the family has its roots in the production of terracotta tiles.  Roots that today extends to 8 generations. 

By making a wine in “orci” as these types of amphoras are called in Tuscany, Giovanni wanted to link back the wine to the heritage of the family.  But this was not enough.  He needed to make wine using orci that were produced by the family company, Manetti Gusmano & Figli, that still produce tiles and terracotta items today.  Key to this project was to produce them totally by the hands of an artisan and according to ancient and traditional terracotta production methods of tuscany.  And more than that, the clay used to make the orci needed to come from the land of Fontodi, where his vines grow to make the wine, thus completing the full circle.  From the vine, the grapes return to the soil…

The wine is made with 100% Sangiovese and remains 12 months in the orci with the skins.  No sulfite added, no oak, no other production techniques.  The orci are left to rest in the cellar at a natural ambient temperature of 14C and 80% humidity, perfect conditions for a very slow evolution.  

We tasted the 2013 directly from one of the orci.  Amazing.  Fresh and pure as a whistle.  Beautiful aromas of cherries, spices, and plums.  A touch of herbs. Fresh on the palate with a nice, firm, velvety tannin.  A handsome wine.  More masculine than feminine yet elegant, self-confident, & worldly.

The striking thing for me was how fresh the wine was.  I often think that “amphora” wines will show strong characters of oxidation with nutty, leathery, and dried tobacco leaves notes.  Perhaps I can not get out of my mind some of these orange wines that claim high and loud that they are made in amphora.  Here, the wine was unlike anything I expected.  In fact, Giovanni told me that the clay is an excellent vessel to make wine.  Its micro-oxigenation is lower than that of a barrel, the clay itself is an anti-oxidant, and as the wine spends so long on the skin, the tannins protect the wines fully and so does the co2 than remaining in the wine as it is trapped into the skins.  The top part of the orci was covered with beeswax giving it extra protection again oxidation and giving the orci an extra layer of antioxidant properties.  But this wax is odorless and tasteless and does not seep into the wine.

A beautiful project, the work of artisans…