Though it is not as well known as many other Chianti Classico estates, Villa Montepaldi is one of the oldest: In the XII century it belonged to the monastery of Passignano, which sold it to the Giandonati family, which in turn sold it to Acciaioli family, who were among Florence’s most important bankers. In 1487 they turned the property over to Lorenzo de’ Medici to extinguish a debt, and, as was their practice, the Medici family’s administrators expanded the property and transformed it into an independent farm complex, with 13 poderi, or farms, which produced primarily wine, olive oil and grain (farms); it’s worth noting that the administrators also prohibited hunting in the woodlands of the property.
In 1627 the Marchesi Corsini bought the property from the Medici and further expanded it, making it one of the most productive farm complexes in Tuscany; it now boasts 315 hectares and belongs to the University of Florence, which uses the villa to host a number of courses and activities, including a Master in Wine Marketing and Winery Management, and the agricultural lands for both research and production.
Villa Montepaldi’s 45 hectares of vineyards are planted, as one might expect in Chianti, primarily to Sangiovese, though they also have Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, and for their whites Sauvignon Blanc, Trebbiano, and Malvasia (the latter two used for a passito).
The wines, tasted in July 2013:
Villa Montepaldi Ateneo Sauvignon Toscana IGT 2012
Brassy gold with brilliant golden highlights and pale gold rim. The bouquet is fairly intense and quite varietal, with savory gooseberry and vegetal notes supported by pleasant spice from grapes, and sage and other herbal notes as well. On the palate it’s full, with fairly rich mineral laced gooseberry fruit supported by slight sweetness and considerable glycerin that confers an almost chewy feel to it, and by bright mineral acidity that gradually fades into a fairly long peppery herbal finish. Pleasant in a powerful, charged key, with a richness that derives in part from the nature of the 2012 summer, and will work nicely with fish based first course dishes along the lines of spaghetti allo scoglio (with crustaceans, molluscs, and reef fish) or flavorful fish, especially roasted or grilled. If you like Sauvignon Blanc you will enjoy it.
Villa Montepaldi Tagliafune Chianti Classico DOCG 2009
Elegant ruby with brilliant reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fresh and brambly, with cherry fruit supported by hints of violets and some underbrush and wet tree bark, and by mineral acidity; the overall impression is zesty. On the palate it’s medium bodied and fresh, with bright cherry and forest berry fruit supported by lively sour cherry acidity and by tannins that have a warm greenish Sangiovese burr, and flow into a fairly long brambly finish. A cocky quaffing wine that will work very well with foods, ranging from hearty soups such as Tuscan ribollita to meaty pasta sauces, and will also be quite nice with quickly cooked grilled meats, from burgers through ribs (seasoned with salt and pepper per the Tuscan custom), and also with light stews or roasted white meats. In short, versatile, and will go quickly.
Villa Montepaldi Chianti Classico DOCG 2008
Elegant cherry ruby tending towards garnet, with black reflections and pale rim; it’s a little less intense than the Tagliafune, and this is because the Tagliafune also contains some Merlot. The bouquet is delicate, with some violets mingled with underbrush and red berry fruit, fairly strong brambly accents, and some leaf tobacco; the tertiary elements are beginning to emerge. Moderate brambly acidity too. On the palate it’s medium bodied and deft, with nice sour cherry fruit supported by some dried flowers and fairly intense brambly acidity, while the tannins have a brambly burr and flow into a fairly long brambly finish with fairly intense cedary notes. It’s deft and agile, with nice fruit, and will drink quite well with grilled meats, for example a porterhouse steak or lamb chops, and will also be nice with a stew or roast. It has a nice fairly traditional feel to it, but you will enjoy it with meats even if you generally prefer smoother more polished wines. In short, a food wine.
Villa Montepaldi Castellaccio Toscana IGT 2008
This is a Taglio Bordelese, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot; it’s deep pigeon blood ruby with dusky cherry reflections and some garnet in the rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cherry and forest berry fruit, in particular blackberries and currants, supported by tobaccoey spice and jammy notes. Moderate acidity, which works from behind the fruit to provide direction. On the palate it’s smooth and full, with rich berry fruit supported by acidity that’s brighter than I might have guessed form the nose, and by smooth sweet tannins that have a slight youthful greenish burr, and flow into a smooth greenish finish with a fair amount of acidity that becomes more mineral as the fruit fades. Pleasant in a rich fruit driven key, and also fairly young – it will age nicely for at least 3-5 more years; it will drink well with succulent not too fatty roasts along the lines of roast beef cooked rare and sliced fairly thick.
Villa Montepaldi Pileos Toscana IGT 2008
Tawny apricot with amber reflections and slight greenish brown highlights. The bouquet is intense and sweet, with dried apricots and some dates mingled with almond skins and walnuts, with a fair amount of dark brown sugar and some oatmeal as well. Nice depth and richness. On the palate it’s not as full as the nose led me to expect, and moderately sweet, with moderate dried apricot fruit and acidity supported by walnut skin bitterness and slight tannins that have a bitter walnutty burr, and flow into a savory bitter finish that gains balance from brown sugar sweetness. While the nose is interesting, the palate doesn’t manage to match it, and because of its lack of concentration it seems drier than it is; I found myself wanting more.
The wines, especially the reds, impressed me quite favorably; the Tagliafune in particular will work very well with foods, and is the sort of wine that will go much faster than one might expect. In addition to wine, Montepaldi produces extravirgin olive oil from 45 hectares of olive groves, flour, bread, and durum wheat pasta from a mixture of heirloom grains grown on 100 hectares of wheat fields, and honey.
You will find more information on Villa Montepaldi on their site. Last thing: The photo is from their site.