Chianti Classico has a long history dating back to 1716, when Grand Duke Cosimo III de’Medici demarcated it as the first official wine zone in Tuscany. The wines have, in their 300+ year history, become classics around the world. A classic, however, is not synonymous with age and the new classics of Chianti are coming from young wineries like Le Fonti, run by Vicky Schmitt-Vitali and Guido Vitali since 2000.
Sangiovese is the heart and soul of winemaking in this region, known for mouthwatering acidity and moderate tannins, as well as complex aromas and flavours of black and red cherry, violets, herbs, spice and earth. The vineyards at Le Fonti – completely replanted in 1994 with rootstocks and vines specifically suited to the terroir – are organically farmed and meticulously tended by hand. The Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes reflect an ethos of quality; light treatment in the cellar allows the essence of each grape and the diverse soils of Panzano to be expressed.
We are thrilled to have five of Le Fonti’s wines, including the Chianti Classico, the Riserva and the Gran Selezione, which showcase the breadth and depth of the Classico region with their diversity and incredible longevity. La Lepre and Fontissimo are born of creative experimentation and of Le Fonti’s ability to bridge a storied past and an exciting future of winemaking. In just under 30 years, Le Fonti’s style, following and critical praise form a new benchmark for classic wines.
Le Fonti 2019 ‘La Lepre’, IGT Tuscany
Retail: $27.95 / btl (6 btl/cs)
Le Fonti 2018 Chianti Classico, Tuscany
Retail: $32.95 / btl (6 btl/cs)
Le Fonti 2017 Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany
Retail: $41.95 / btl (6 btl/cs)
Le Fonti 2016 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, Tuscany
Retail: $54.95 / btl (6 btl/cs)
Le Fonti 2017 ‘Fontissimo’, IGT Tuscany
Retail: $57.95 / btl (6 btl/cs)
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A blend of Sangiovese and Merlot, La Lepre shows wonderful aromas of cherries, plums, blueberries and blackberries, but also delicate spicy notes of pepper, juniper and liquorice. On the palate the wine is soft with fine tannins, elegant acidity and well integrated flavours.
93 points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous, September 2021
“The 2018 Chianti Classico is a gracious, elegant wine that captures the essence of this north- facing sector in Panzano. Bright acids and expressive oral notes lift a core of dark Sangiovese fruit. Leather, spice and lavender give this mid-weight Chianti Classico tons of character. This silky, elegant Chianti Classico is beautifully done. Drinking window: 2025 – 2038”
92 points, Antonio Galloni, Vinous, June 2022
“The 2017 Chianti Classico Riserva is another gorgeous wine from Le Fonti. The addition of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon add juiciness, but I am not sure the Sangiovese necessarily benefits from those additions. I would give the 2017 a few years in bottle to allow the tannins to soften. I very much like the depth and complexity here. Drinking window: 2024 – 2037”
95 points – Michael Godel, WineAlign, February 2020
“Begins at a point just exactly where the Riserva ’16 takes its leave and carries the torch of purity and delicacy. Efficacy too, efficiency for sure and an effusive level of strength that belies its lightness of being. Yes it takes richness in sangiovese from Panzano and this estate to another level but never forgets the heeded understatement it demands to pay forward. Another outstanding effort and worthy of 20 plus years in the cellar. Drink 2023-2035.”
93 points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous, September 2021
“The 2017 Fontissimo is as blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with a touch of Sangiovese that shows just how special this site is. Plum, crème de cassis, lavender, menthol, licorice and spice meld together nicely. The 2017 loses some persistence on the finish, but it is attractive and super- engaging. Drinking window: 2024 – 2035.”
About Le Fonti
Vicky Schmitt-Vitali and Guido Vitali took over this exquisite, immaculate 15 hectare estate in Panzano-in-Chianti from Vicky’s parents in 2000. Guido serves as winemaker & vineyard manager, while Vicky looks after the commercial aspects of the business. But really, they do everything together – by hand – from pruning, to harvest, to bottling… Vicky’s father, Conrad Schmitt, purchased the estate in 1994, and since that time, the entire vineyard has been replanted and improved, and the cellar has been completely rebuilt and expanded. There are 9 ha of vineyard (21 acres), 85% of which is planted to Sangiovese, the balance is Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot – plus of course about 5 hectares of olive trees. The respected Stefano Chioccioli has been the estate’s consulting oenologist since the beginning.
Le Fonti is farmed organically, and every aspect of the 3,400 case (40,000 bottles) production is done by hand. The estate is located within the hilltop village of Panzano, with vineyards in a stunningly beautiful amphitheatre facing up the valley toward Greve, and Firenze beyond. Vineyards are planted on a mixed soil of gravel, schist, limestone, sand and clay – a soil mixture also known as Galestro, and grape varieties are matched to the soil type and exposition that best suit the variety. This is a very well considered, carefully managed ‘boutique’ estate.
Panzano is one of the most prestigious villages of Chianti Classico, located within the Commune of Greve, and considered to be the ‘Premier-Cru’ Chianti Classico village (although no such formal classification exists). The beautiful, ancient village is home to several famous wineries, as well as the world-renowned Antica Macelleria Cecchini – home of Dario ‘the Butcher of Panzano’ (less ominous than it sounds, he’s noted for Tuscan Beef). In fact, there are 19 independent producers in the Panzano district, farming 500 hectrares – and all but 1 of these estates are organic farms. This unique situation has resulted in Panzano being declared Europe’s 1st ‘Bio-Distretto di Viticultura’. Don’t miss Dario or his restaurant when you visit Le Fonti – and please make sure you do visit Le Fonti when you’re in Tuscany.
Michael Godel recently (Feb 2020) wrote of Le Fonti, “Here comes that Le Fonti aromatic profile again, as distinct as any sangiovese you will ever nose. Would like to think they could be picked out of a line-up anywhere. Savoury, salty, cured, elegant and pure pleasure available.” We’re pretty sure you’ll like it too.
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