Some of my earliest wine memories are of Italian wines, both commercial and home-made. Of course, that makes sense as I grew up in a mixed ethnic neighborhood, so most meals and beverages from the Mediterranean are like comfort food to me. I was happy to try a couple of wines from Italy when I was at my local wine shop the Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan. Back around this past Thanksgiving a Rosé was one of the two monthly wines and it was from Podere Ciona and in fact we like it so much, that we bought more of it, and then I was really pleasantly surprised at how much more I enjoyed it, compared to one of the big boy offerings that I tried side by side here at the house.
I was reading the history of the winery on their website “Franca and Franco Gatteschi were looking for a place in the countryside to retire to, after many years of working in Italy and abroad, when they came across a small, beautiful, albeit run down property: 100 acres of land, mostly wooded with 10 acres set aside for cultivation, of which 2.5 acres already had vineyards; a house from the 18th Century, abandoned for more than 40 years; and, above all, a view without equal on the Chianti hills, with Siena in the distance.” It really sounds idyllic and makes one ponder how this property was neglected and ignored for years. “They purchased the estate at the beginning of 1990 and they immediately started the reconstruction work on the main house (it took nearly three years). They also set up a small but well- equipped wine cellar for making wine. In 1996 they permanently moved to live on the estate and the following year, the great 1997 vintage, saw the birth of the first “official” wine of Podere Ciona: A Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva.”
I actually started off by tasting the Podere Ciona Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2008, only eleven years after their first commercial bottling. Like all Chianti Classico Riserva wines, this wine is made with ninety-two percent Sangiovese grapes and the balance is made up from Merlot and Alicante Bouschet. The wine is aged for eighteen months in French Oak in two distinct types of barrels and then some time in the bottle before release. Since the winery figures that they achieve one bottle per vine, they produced six-hundred-seventy-five cases of this wine. The nose and color were big, just as I expect from this wine with red fruit, but what really pleased me is that the winery is in the town of Gaiole and I was amazed at the terroir that was in my glass and some heat, the heat I expected, but the terroir was a definite bonus. The wine that I tasted right afterwards was Podere Ciona La Diacce Rosso Toscana IGT 2013 and this is their flagship wine. This wine is a Merlot wine with just a touch of Alicante Bouschet added to give it a little Italian zest. This wine gets basically the same treatment that the Riserva does in regard to details like eighteen months in two different size French Oak barrels and then additional time in the bottle. I think that I would have preferred having tasted this wine first, because it was younger and the fruit was much more evident. I have always been partial to Merlot and I guess that I have a natural bias towards it, but this wine I really think would benefit with about ten years in the cellar and then it will display why it is their flagship wine.