Bio-Dynamic Sangiovese from the Inner Circle

Two producers of Sangiovese in Tuscany that follow Bio-Dynamic methods are Querciabella and Castello dei Rampolla.

Both make Chianti Classico. Neither make a Riserva. Each one makes a Chianti Classico that eclipses many a Riserva from other producers and catches up to a few Brunellos in quality too.

Querciabella lies in Greve and Rampolla is in Panzano, about 10 minutes from each other on the SR222, the strada del vino for Chianti Classico.

What both of these producers say with their wines are this: There is a “there” there in their wine. This is holy ground for Sangiovese, where the gods play.

They practice “Biodynamic” here; hence, the rack of bull’s horns waiting for the mixture of concentrated manure from the 7th bull of the 7th bull. Full moon was 2 weeks away. A lot of folks who have wished the wish - “I wish I could be a fly on the wall”- are getting their afterlife-karmic requests granted here

At Rampolla they have a young winemaker, Marcus, with deep, penetrating slate-blue eyes, tall, upright, a welcome addition to the Tuscan table. Marcus was born in Germany, raised among the steep, dark, schist-laden vineyards of his homeland. There is a heaven for some. The payoff is work in the sun. Not a lot of money, which is another story for that young generation.

The wines of Rampolla still resonate within me. The finish is lingering in a way I rarely feel in wine. It isn’t just a bottle of wine. I don’t know if it is even wine in the strict sense of it. Yes, they use grapes and barrels and bottles and corks. But I am still tasting those wines!

Paola Banchi, from Querciabella, has been trained as an agronomist. Two of her mentors have been Gianfranco Soldera and Josko Gravner, two of the most iconoclastic vintner-philosophers in Italy. I recently opened up some of these wines with a filmmaker friend. Mamma mia, the end of the world!

Paola is an Italian earth woman, a descendant of those wine goddesses you see on the ancient amphorae in southern Italy. And though her DNA is linked to them, she looks at you from a pair of 6th century B.C. Etruscan eyes. Paola is a recipient of the energy that has passed from the ancients to the moderns.

Much has been said about Querciabella, and much more will be written. My friend, David, has written about the  Chianti Classico here.

Simply, this is Sangiovese from its home base, the inner circle. As one would find a Pinot Noir from Burgundy or Zinfandel from Dry Creek, this golden zone of Tuscany is Sangiovese’s Mt. Olympus.


Alfonso writes from the aisle seat of  Boeing 777, on his way to Vinitaly. His blog, On the Wine Trail in Italy, manages to get him an occasional press pass to such events. 




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