Chianti Classico deep dive (7) exciting newcomer Cigliano di Sopra

Cigliano di Sopra is really interesting project. It’s a partnership between Maddelena Fucile and Matteo Vaccari that began in 2016 (when she was 21 and he was 23), and the first wines were bottled in late 2018. It’s based on a property that is in Maddelena’s family, previously selling bulk wine. They made 1000 bottles in 2016, and now make 20 000 bottles from 7 hectares, which is all they can do. The vineyard is divided into 11 plots, and it mainly planted to Sangiovese.

The big change here started in 2018 when they began to take winemaking seriously. 2016 and 2017 were experimental, and then in 2018 they decided they wanted to make this their main focus. The goal is to reach 12 hectares of vineyards and production of 35 000 bottles. They don’t want to buy grapes. ‘For us it is important that our grapes come from this land,’ says Matteo.

They studied winemaking in the University of Florence, and went to Domaine de la Côte to work in the Lompoc wine ghetto with Raj Parr and Sashi Moorman, and they also worked at Evening Land in Oregon in 2017. ‘They make great wine,’ says Matteo. While they were working in the USA they trained their palates with wines from around the world – many things that they hadn’t experienced before.

‘The important thing in wine is to know what you want to do,’ he says. ‘I know some people who make wine because they want to make wine, but don’t know where they are going.’ They decided to make their own wines in the direction they know: not so heavy, and drinkable. But not too much acidity, not watery.

The property has a lot of alluvial soils with river stones, with sandy soils. The western side of the estate is more sandy while the eastern side is less alluvial and more rocky. ‘Clay/sand with river stones gives a distinctive mouthfeel,’ says Matteo.

The vines are trained on a high gobelet, not guyot, with 2-3 spurs per shoot. They are now planting some free-standing gobelet. They say that the bush vines can keep the fruit 2-3 C cooler at mid-day, but you need to be careful with your spray penetration and spray up to protect the bunches.

They have an enlightened approach to wine ‘faults’. ‘At school we were told Brettanomyces was the devil,’ says Maddelena. ‘Raj [Parr] opened a bottle of JM Stephan – and said it has all the defects of the world but it is delicious. They key is balance.’

‘Doing harvest at Domaine de la Côte was eye opening,’ says Maddalena. ‘Sashi and Raj opened our minds, treating the difference as a power. It was really important for us to be there.’

The idea they have is to make a Chianti Classico every year, and then to make some single plot wines. In 2021 everything was mixed in one blend. ‘We are seeing that there is a lot of difference in the vines,’ says Maddalena. ‘Also it increases the value.’

Stem inclusion is a binary decision here. ‘With stems the like to do 100% destemmed or 100% whole bunch, but there are exceptions,’ she says. They don’t want to have carbonic maceration character in the wines because at a certain point it masks the terroir.

‘We like to age in wood,’ says Maddelena. ‘Right now everyone is moving away from oak, but we feel Sangiovese needs wood. All our reds go in wood for a minimum of one year.’ They started with small barrels because they are easy to manage, but they are now using large oak: they have two 15 hl Stockingers that cost them €15 000 for the pair second hand but quite new. ‘The important thing is never to wash them,’ says Matteo. Since they first used them, they keep wine in them all the time. 2022 Chianti Classico was the first in these casks.

They have just four people for 7 hectares, which ends up being quite a lot of work.


Cigliano di Sopra Nuvola del Cigliana 2022 Vino di Tavola
11% alcohol. 75% Trebbiano, 25% Malvasia. Estate fruit (they don’t buy grapes). 5 days whole bunches, then pressed, settled a little bit and fermented and aged 8 months on full lees in demijohn. This is the third time trying to find the right way to make this, and they think they have got Fine, mineral, expressive has lovely citrus and melon fruit with a touch of table grape and nice fine spicy, crystalline, mineral detail. Such a complex, complete but joyful wine of real detail and focus. Finishes mineral and slightly salty. 95/100

Cigliano di Sopra Chianti Classico 2021
13.5% alcohol. 100% Sangiovese. Apparently this wine is in a closed phase now, but I really like it. It’s fresh, linear and fine with sweet cherries, plums, some spicy detail and nice silkiness. There’s a lovely combination of ripe sweet fruit and fresh spicy detail, with good focus. The balance between the ripe fruit and the freshness is really interesting: it’s heading towards richness but has precision, and good structure. Lovely stuff. 94/100

Cigliano di Sopra Chianti Classico 2022
A small part of this (25%) was matured in 1500 litre cask. They used more stems this year (around 50-60%). Lovely aromatics here with bright cherry and raspberry fruit with some fine herbs. So fresh and taut on the palate showing elegance but also brightness. This is vivid and alive, with the stems adding some structure and energy to the wine. Very expressive with lots of potential: an elegant expression of Chianti Classico. 95/100

Cigliano di Sopra Vigneto Branca Chianti Classico Riserva 2022
100% whole bunch, 1972 plantings. Fresh, aromatic and taut with lovely focused black cherry and blackberry fruit. Taut and mineral, and a little closed, but with freshness and nice structure. The whole bunch gives nice freshness and a bit of structure, with some floral detail. This is quite serious, and should have a great future ahead of it. 96/100