Campolungo vineyard, the high-altitude Chianti Classico

At Life of Wine we found the Lamole di Lamole Chianti winery, which has been part of the Santa Margherita Group since 1993. We had the opportunity to taste four vintages of Chianti Classico produced from grapes from the Campolungo Vineyard; three of them were Gran Selezione (2018, 2015 and 2011 vintages) and the 2007 one was a Riserva.

The Chianti Classico region is in central Tuscany and impresses with its landscape and locations that seem suspended in time. This evocative region includes only 9 municipalities, 4 of which are in the province of Florence, the northern side of the region, and the remaining ones are in the province of Siena, in the south. Lamole is a hamlet of Greve in Chianti, a municipality in the Florentine area, although it has always been considered an enclave of Radda (a municipality in province of Siena). Some of its vineyards exceed 650 meters in altitude, on the edge of altitude for Sangiovese in this region.

The name of the hamlet derives from the ancient Latin word “lamulae“, that referrs to the land strips that cross the so-called “macigno chiantigiano“, a stony island in the middle of the large clay patch of the territory of Tuscany. Here the Apennines’ sandstone crosses the rocks such as the blocks of marl , the crushed lamellae, or like the alberese, which is made of hard white limestone and rich in manganese and iron, but at the same time it is very permeable. The vine is thus forced to search for water deep in the soil and in doing that it acquires minerals. Clear evidence of the relationship between human interaction and the region environment are shown by the terraces of Lamole, dry stone walls built by hand over centuries, with local stones. The terraces play a vital role for the vineyard, by limiting the erosion of the soil. Aswell as providing cultivable surface, they also allow daylight to be reflected into the canapy, stimulating the photosynthesis, and retaining the heat that will be released during the night in the vineyard.

The Lamole di Lamole winery is located in an area which stretches for 173 hectares of which 57 are vineyards. The estate, like many other Chianti Classico wineries, has recently completed the conversion to organic farming, which began less than twenty years ago. In this regard, chemicals have been eliminated to the advantage of new techniques: cover crops; the use of natural composti and the reuse of some raw materials, for example, the broken shoots mixed with the pomace, that becomes a new fertilizers for the soil. At the same time, the use of copper and sulphur is also restricted, despite being allowed in organic viticulture.

The Campolungo vineyard covers about ten hectares and is at high altitude, between 420 and 576 meters above sea level. It was planted between 1982 and 2009 on the “macigno”, partly on terraces, and it ended up to be a real estate’s cru where the vines are mainly spurred cordon trained. The vineyard faces south-west and has a planting density between 3,300 and 5,200 vines per hectare. The grapes used for the production of the Chianti Classico Gran Selezione wines and the Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 come from this vineyard. The Chianti Classio Riserva 2007 was produced when the Gran Selezione regulations did not exist, despite the fact that today it would be considered a Gran Selezione.

The bunches are carefully sorted in the vineyard; from their arrival at the winery the grapes are destemmed, and from the 2015 harvest also optically sorted. The grapes are soft pressed and then the must ferments in 50-hectolitre tapered barrels on the skins for about two weeks. The wine is then matured in 30 and 50 hectoliters oak barrels, with a small portion being aged in barriques. Over time, the percentage of the wine aged in barriques has been progressively reduced, so much so that the most recent vintages aged entirely in large barrels. The Gran Selezione regulations requires longer aging in wood vessels than the Riserva, although, considering the bottle aging, the overall maturation period is very similar.

Let’s see how the tasting went.

Chianti Classico Vigneto di Campolungo Gran Selezione 2018 (Sangiovese 100%)

The 2018 vintage was an average humid vintage, with rainfall that accompanied all the phenological phases, including summer veraison. This was one of the reason why the harvest was slightly delayed, finishing at the beginning of November.

The wine is concentrated ruby in colour. On the nose, it is an austere wine that impresses with aromas of violet and berries, followed by hints of dark spices, coffee and tobacco with long fruity and licorice tones on the finish. On the palate it shows all its power, with a intense freshness that makes you mouth water and very dense tannins, which is a sign of its youth. The very long finish has an aftertaste of aromatic herbs.

Chianti Classico Vigneto di Campolungo Gran Selezione 2015 (Sangiovese 95%, Cabernet Sauvignon 5%)

The 2015 vintage was a dry one, with a general lack of rainfall throughout the year. The mild spring was followed by a very hot summer that sped up the ripening of the grapes. Therefore, early harvest was necessaryto preserve the acidity of the grapes, despite the high altitude of the vineyard.

The wine is ruby in colour with a slightly paler colour on the rim of the glass. On the nose, it is wide and deep, beginning with hints of red berries in jam,followed bynotes of aromatic herbs and sweet spices, tobacco, forrest floor and graphite with an herbal finish. In the mouth it impresses because of its still vibrant acidity and tannins that dry out your mouth and are just balanced by a perceptible mellowness. The finish is with long lasting balsamic notes.

Chianti Classico Vigneto di Campolungo Gran Selezione 2011 (Sangiovese 90%, Cabernet Sauvignon 10%)

The weather in 2011 was characterized by a lack of rainfall and generally had higher temperatures than the averages. The time of harvest was like that of the sample tasted previously.

In the glass, the wine is ruby in colour with garnet flashes. On the nose it is still mainly fruity, with aromas of morello cherry, plum jam, followed by vanilla, mushrooms, eucalyptus and licorice on the finish. In the mouth, it still shows all its youth, despite being produced more than 12 years ago in a hot vintage, with its outstanding freshness. The finish il long with spicy tones. 

Chianti Classico Vigneto di Campolungo Riserva 2007 (Sangiovese 85%, Cabernet Sauvignon 15%)

The year was very hot and dry, with a very similar trend to 2011. The summer was torrid and very dry resulting in a fast ripening of the grapes and therefore, an early harvest. As mentioned before, the wine produced is classified as a Riserva because the Gran Selezione regulations were not enforced in 2007.

The wine is ruby in colour with garnet hints, very similar to tha sample tasted previously. On the nose, the wine offers a rich and complex aromatic spectrum, with notes of sour cherry jam, dark hints of licorice, leather and tobacco, with a interesting spicy and balsamic finish. On the palate this Riserva is striking for its consistency and complexity, with the acidity still very detectable, which is balanced by an even greater mellowness; due to the time spent in the bottle the tannin is finally polished. An evocative and very long lasting wine with balsamic finish.

This was an amazing vertical tasting where we tasted wines of great personality. The altitude of the vineyard and the soil texture allowed them to retain their freshness even in older samples that were made in very hot vintages. Each of the wines tasted still has a long life ahead and can be paired with opulent meat and game dishes.

posted in:
Red Wine

Wine Lover, Sommelier AIS and Marketing Expert

Previously, the wine was white or red for me, sometimes it was the middle ground, sometimes it had bubbles, or it was sweet. Then I started this journey in the knowledge of wine, with its many expressions, types, and the countless territories perfect for growing vines.
I met some wonderful people, with whom it is always possible to be amazed and often excited, while tasting a glass of wine.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *