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PIERO LANZA AT POGGERINO

Piero in his new winery. Photograph by Andrew Vukosav

There are times in your life as a wine professional that you are truly thankful for being introduced to a region for the first time by precisely the right person. This was the case for me when I visited Piero Lanza at Poggerino in Tuscany. I have long loved the wines of Chianti Classico, so much so that I favour them over some more expensive DOCGs in the same region as truly representative of their origins. I even enjoyed Piero's wines at my wedding 13 years ago, yet I had never set foot in the region. What I found was the simplicity and life force in the wines of Chianti Classico reflects the beauty of the region and the flavour of the food. You can be assured there is no pretense there.

A complete lack of pretense is what you experience with Piero, as he welcomes you to his rather understated and humble winery and vineyard. Bypassing the cellar door, Piero ushers you into the eleven hectare vineyard of which ten is Sangiovese, the variety that is the cornerstone of the wines of Poggerino. While the history of the brand is a good story, I can't help but feel that the truly defining point of this benchmark producer is happening today.

You can see the love in his eyes.
Photograph by Andrew Vukosav

Standing at the bottom of the vineyard talking to Piero, it is slightly cooler due the nearby forest on a very warm day in May, and the smells of the forest combine with the fragrance of the freshly turned earth that occurs in every second row. The vines are healthy and growing steadily in the unseasonable warmth early in the 2011 vintage, and this health can be attributed to the sustainable attitude of Piero, where he uses only organic and bio-dynamic preparations in the vineyard. And here lies the story.

Our conversation turns to production levels and plans for the future, and then Piero drops the statement that is the very essence of why his wines taste so good. Currently the total production of the Fattoria is 60-70,000 bottles annually, and Piero doesn't want to grow beyond this. 'If I can't look after it in the vineyard personally, I don't want to make it' he states. Understanding every single vine in his vineyard is critical, and then taking that fruit to his small new winery allows him to treat his fruit even more gently than ever before. The result is a true purity of Sangiovese that is the essence of the Radda sub-region of Chianti Classico. What comes through in the wines is that you can taste the schist and quartz that provides so much life and energy in the resulting elixir. The wines of Poggerino are pure, fine and driven by a palpable mineral complexity.

Gentle and unassuming is the man, and the wine follows in his footsteps, just as a loyal companion does when trust is implicit in the relationship. The viticulturalist cherishes and loves the vines in the vineyard, and in return the vines provide fruit that is healthy, full of life and truly reflective of its origins. What more can you truly ask for?

The cooling Bosco in the background.
Photograph by Andrew Vukosav

The tasting at Poggerino was a secondary consideration as you may have ascertained in the above, yet the tasting supported the experience in the vineyard. I cannot urge anyone strongly enough to search out and discover the wines of Poggerino for themselves. There are no points below, as standing at a cellar door discussing wines with the producer is neither the time nor the place for such an undertaking.

2009 Poggerino Chianti Classico (100% Sangiovese)
Light colour, bit of spice from wood but just a fine seasoning; extremely fine tannins, and a light touch of anise; lovely ripe ample tannins; accessible but still serious; a strong red fruited wine, and showing the softness and accessibility of the 2009 vintage.

2008 Poggerino Chianti Classico (100% Sangiovese)
Much deeper colour than the 2009, darker fruited and savoury, a strongly mineral in style; loaded with sweet dark fruits and plenty of bramble and spice again; long trailing minerallity, and ample flesh on the finish; firm and intense, but well proportioned; lovely tension and persistence.

2006 Poggerino Chianti Classico Riserva 'Bugialla' (100% Sangiovese)
A simply brilliant wine, with lively fruits and amazing depth; has been open two days but looks as fresh as a daisy; really silky tannins and super persistence; expands across the palate and is just amazingly succulent; Piero offered to open another bottle, but I didn't see the point.

Had to taste wine at some time during the visit.
Photograph by Andrew Vukosav




Comments

Michael Green January 9, 2012

Very nice review, thank you! Piero & Benedetta are very good friends of mine. He makes some of the most extraordinary wine in Tuscany.

Terry Heuff May 12, 2012

Visited Poggerino in 2010 and have been hooked on their Chianti Classico ever since. Not always easy to find in Montreal, so makes it extra special when my wife and I enjoy a bottle. thanks for this review. Was like visiting old friends.

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