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Fontodi dinner at V & C with Giovanni Manetti 30/09/2004 (TNB)

Giovanni Manetti is the very model of a modern European winemaker. He jets into Edinburgh from Tuscany on the afternoon of the event, has a shower, the hair-dryer bursts in to flames and the hotel has to be evacuated but he arrives at Valvona and Crolla to present his wine looking perfectly composed. He stands up and, following the convention in these matters, apologises for his English and explains that he is just a simple farmer. He then talks lucidly about his sophisticated wines in perfect idomatic English - the only thing I didn't catch all evening was a question asked in a broad Scots accent.

Anyway, what of the wines? Fontodi make pure, silky-textured wines, some new oak but in moderation. Generally one of the best Chianti estates to my mind (and to many other people's too). The Chianti Classico is a model example - it's the important basic wine for the estate and you can tell they care about it. Not cheap, but Chianti isn't these days - one could make an argument that the region has got seriously over-priced recently, but that's another story.

Then there are two excellent prestige bottlings from particular vineyards. The Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna del Sorbo has a dollop of Cabernet in with the Sangiovese, gets a bit more oak and while a very fine wine is a touch more towards Modern International than the drier, reserved, more stylish, pure Sangiovese that is Flaccianello. I'd rather assumed the latter wine was the "international" offering given the absence of "Chianti" from the label but it seems to be the other way round. I don't want to be at all down on the Sorbo by the way - I am pretty happy to have a couple of bottles in my cellar. Of vintages, the 2000 of both wines were good but overshadowed by the 1997 Sorbo and the 1999 (my favourite recent Chianti vintage) for the Flaccianello.

The white Meriggio was perfectly nice but (as Italian whites can be) a bit underwhelming at the sort of price it goes for. The Pinot Nero Casa Via 2001 a very decent effort at Pinot but ultimately a bit simple and I really couldn't see the point of the Syrah Case Via 2000. What is it about Tuscany I wonder: vignerons in Crozes Hermitage don't go making odd wines from experimental plantings of Sangiovese.

I could certainly see the point of the Estate's Vin Santo 1995 - one of the best I can remember tasting with the complexity and interest of good Madeira or Sherry. Absolutely splendid, it stands out in my memory along with the Flaccianello.

Dinner added to Fine Wine Diary 13/12/2004   Return to top