Visiting Chianti Classico 
Part 8: Podere il Palazzino   

Website: www.podereilpalazzino.it

Alessandro Sderci (above) is a banker by trade, but its not necessarily his first love. My passion is to produce wine, he declares. Podere il Palazzino is his family estate, with 20 hectares of vines, and hes now in his 35th harvest. [Incidentally, the bank he works for is the oldest bank in the world: Monte di Pasci in Siena.] Sderci has a talent for wine. These are some of the best, most elegant Chiantis that Ive encountered.

Our idea of producing Chianti Classico hasnt always been along the same lines as other producers, he says. In the 1970s the style was for lighter wines, so we had problems. As a result, his Grosso Senesi single-vineyard wine, which is 100% Sangiovese, and thus darker than some of the wines which had other grapes blended in, was initially labelled as VdT. (This was before the IGT category which is widely used for premium wines in the region was invented.) Now the rules have changed back and it is legal to make Chianti Classico with 100% Sangiovese.

Alessandro has renamed this wine Chianti Classico, but admits that from an economic point of view this was a disaster. Its more difficult to sell an expensive wine as Chianti Classico than it is as an IGT, he says. Many producers who could make Chianti Classico still call their 100% Sangiovese wines IGT.

Palazzino is located in Monti, a small village thats part of the Gaiole subregion of Chianti Classico. Its quite high here one of the highest parts of the region. In the vineyard, Alessandro has stopped using herbicides and just uses mechanical means to keep the vineyard clear of weeds. 

Of the 2008 vintage, he says that September really helped. Its an important month in this part of the world. For example, in 2005, it would have been a good vintage but a poor September made it a difficult one. 2008 was looking like a disaster, but then cool nights and sunny days meant that the last stages of maturation could happen with no rot.

He has started using just organic products in the vineyard. I was afraid to do this change alone, he reveals. I was worried we could make a lot of mistakes, so I decided to hire a consultant to help me. The consultant, a Mr Mazzilli, is an expert in organics. We are only doing it without certification, but Im sure that in the future Ill obtain certification. A group of like minded producers in the locality are all switching to organics.

Alessandro also used to have a winemaking consultant, called Luciano Bandini. I didnt follow what he did all that much, but I told him that I did, he jokes.  He sees consultants like this as similar to the placebo given by doctors: just having a consultant helps psychologically. 

Consultants are very important in Tuscany. Alessandro thinks that the reason is that unlike the situation in Piedmont (which had a tradition of small producers), Chianti didnt have a widespread knowledge of making wine, which in the past was usually in the hands of big fattoria. So the workers didnt know how to make wine. People who have bought small podere in Chianti are often newcomers from other kinds of work, so they needed help from a consultant. In recent years people have hired famous consultants because this helps them sell their wine. He adds that, Some of my colleagues put the name and photo of the consultant in their brochures.

The range consists of three single vineyard wines (Grosso Senese, La Pieve, Argenina), and three IGTs (Casina Girasole, Bertinga [a blend of Cabernet and Petit Verdot] and Stagi [a varietal Colorino]).

Podere il Palazzino La Casina Girasole 2006 IGT
Beautifully aromatic: very fresh, sweet pure cherry, plum and strawberry fruit with a fresh spicy edge. Quite complex. The palate is expressive with lovely subtle, elegant earthy notes and some minerality under the supple, slightly bitter plum and cherry fruit. Expressive and lovely. 91/100

Podere il Palazzino Argenina 2006
Slightly tight, shy nose with mineralic dark cherry fruit. The palate has beautiful concentration with rich texture to the pure, mineralic fruit and lively acidity framing the pure fruit very well. Really beautiful with a really lively core to it. 93/100

Podere il Palazzino La Pieve 2005
Beautifully aromatic nose with dark cherries, spices, subtle earthy notes. It has a lushness, but also purity and elegance. The palate is beautifully elegant with spicy minerality and subtle earthiness under the fruit. Supple and quite beautiful. 94/100

Podere il Palazzino Grosso Sanese 2005
Sweet, warm, spicy, earthy edge to the nose which is rich yet quite elegant. The palate shows lovely complex sweet earthy spicy fruit with a lovely natural sort of character. Really interesting stuff with hints of tea and tobacco. Good concentration with seamless structure. Perhaps just lacks a little definition. 93/100

Podere il Palazzino Bertinga 2005
Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Forward, intense spicy blackcurrant fruit with lovely purity. Quite sweet but with spiciness keeping things savoury. The palate is dense with lovely earthy minerality under the intense fruit. Finishes savoury and earthy: lovely density here. 92/100

Podere il Palazzino Stagi 2004
Made from Colorino, a teinturier variety. Dense, structured and spicy with a lovely minerally edge to the red fruits. Lovely firm, mineralic tannic structure with nice savouriness. An interesting wine that I find delicious and complex. 92/100

Podere il Palazzino Grosso Sanese 1991
This was an experiment with 100% new barriques. Open evolved herby nose with some figs, tobacco and leather notes. Sweet and warm. The palate has a leathery, citrussy edge to it. Firm structure and bright acidity, finishing leathery. Drink up. 89/100

CHIANTI SERIES

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Fontodi
Part 3: Castello di Querceto
Part 4: Castello della Paneretta
Part 5: Bibbiano
Part 6: Fattoria di Felsina
Part 7: Castell'in Villa
Part 8: Palazzino
Part 9: Barone Ricasoli
Part 10: Colle Lungo
Part 11: Vicchiomaggio

Wines tasted 10/08  
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