"The Casanova dell’Aia vineyard is close to the village of Radda itself and was planted entirely to Sangiovese in 2002.
Made with 100% Sangiovese, picked early for freshness and made with the classic rosé vinification (grapes crushed and left on the skins for less than a day, then pressed off and fermented like a white wine). Beautiful pink color; aromas of wild strawberries, cherries and a touch of herbs; fresh and clean on the palate with a beautiful bright finish. A delicious, and very versatile food wine through summer and fall; I'll be drinking this with salmon, vegetables, pork, roast chicken. Bottled with a screwcap for freshness."
-Oliver McCrum, Importer
"Very high altitude vineyards ensure freshness even in warm vintages. Single-vineyard expressions from three of the ancient villages of Chianti Classico. Indigenous varieties, traditional cellar methods"
The great Burgundy broker Becky Wasserman once told me that you can see the character of the winemaker in the wine. The Istine Chianti Classico from Angela Fronti is an example of this truth; my first impression of Angela at Vinitaly was smiling, lively, even exuberant, but as I've come to know her better, her intelligence, deep understanding of her wine and region have also become clear. Likewise, her base wine first shows the bright red fruit that is the charm of good Chianti Classico, then you taste the structure and substance of the wine, surprisingly deep for a 'normale,'. The single-vineyard wines and the Riserva demonstrate mastery of traditional winemaking as well as great respect for the ‘territorio’ and the raw material that comes from it.
The first vintage of Istine was in 2009. The estate consists of a group of small high-altitude vineyards around the town of Radda (one over the border in Gaiole) and, originally, a 'winery' that reminded me of the Wine Ghetto in Lompoc; a corner of a light industrial space with a basket press and a few large barrels in it. Now they’ve built a proper stone winery building, and even a tasting room.
Istine’s grapes are typically harvested in mid to late October due to the altitude. Fermentation is done in concrete tanks using indigenous yeasts, and the juice is left to macerate on the skins for up to 45 days. Once fermentation is complete, the wine is pressed off and aged in 10-20 hL barrels for about a year, filtered using a large-pore filter, and bottled
If I wanted to show someone what Chianti Classico tastes like, in a perfect world, I would give them Istine’s. No foreign grapes, no French oak. Just the traditional grapes and methods, and it works. Bright medium red color; classic aromas and flavors of sour cherry, herbs and sandalwood; medium weight with a long finish. An absolutely excellent all-around table wine.The Istine vineyard, a single vineyard of almost 4 hectares, was planted in 2002. It is in the heart of the historic Chianti zone between Castellina and Radda, on a hilltop surrounded by woods. Angela’s family is in vineyard construction and management; her brother told me that this vineyard site was so rocky and difficult to clear that they would have bailed on any other customer. I'm glad they didn't. The wines made from the Istine vineyard have a brilliant medium-red color; aromas and flavors of red fruit, particularly cherry, with a background note of something herbal (angelica?). It finishes with a tea-like hint of bitterness and lovely, fresh, almost pomegranate acidity. It’s hard to resist drinking this now but will age and improve for at least 5 years in the bottle, particularly as the vines get older.
- Oliver McCrum