The Villa of Vignamaggio, surrounded by an elegant Italian garden in a stunningly beautiful corner of the Chianti countryside, offers an authentic testimony of country life during the Renaisance period. The main part of the villa dates back to the 14th century.
Mona Lisa, the daughter of Anton Maria Gherardini, was born at Vignamaggio in 1479. The Gherardini were a noble family in Tuscany, probably of Etruscan or Roman origin. They began to construct their castle at Montagliari on a hill dominating the Greve river valley. From this position the Gherardini often robbed the merchants on their way to Florence, who in 1302 finally decided to put an end to these episodes and besieged the castle. After a long hard battle the Gherardini moved to the other side of the valley at Vignamaggio where they built the first part of the villa.
The estate was bought in 1925 by Contessa Elena Samminiatelli, whose family restored the Italian gardens and the villa. Since 1988 Mr. Gianni Nunziante the new owner has undertaken an extensive renovation of the buildings, the gardens, the vineyards and the wine cellars. Research carried out at the Datini archives in Prato has brought to light a number of documents relating to Vignamaggio. One of these, in particular, dated 26 October 1404, consists of a letter to Francesco Datini signed by Amido Gherardini, at that time the owner of the estate, which talks about
"vino inbotato a Vignamag(i)o"
(literally "wine placed in barrels at Vignamaggio"). For this reason, in 2004 the estate celebrated six hundred years of winemaking.
The wine is aged in oak barrels and barriques which are situated inside the fifteenth century cellars. The structure of the Vignamaggio cellars, which respects traditional canons, offers ideal conditions for maturing wines in a totally natural way; in fact, the temperature and environmental humidity are not controlled. Inside the cellar, temperatures range between 12 and 17 degrees all year round and the humidity fluctuates between 78 and 90%. The latter is also regulated by the bare rock wall on the side of the Italian-style garden.
In short, the cellar is a micro-cosmos where every physical, chemical and even human component contributes to the high quality of Vignamaggio’s wines.
Harvesting is done in the first ten days of October. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 10-12 days at a controlled temperature of 27 - 28 °C. Malolactic fermentation occurs.
Ruby red in colour with fruity, rich and pleasant aromas. Fresh, silky and well-balanced in the mouth.
Vignamaggio is traditionally the birthplace of Monna Lisa Gherardini, the “Gioconda” painted by Leonardo da Vinci. This wine is dedicated to this noblewoman in his portrait.
The Chianti Classico Gran Selezione is only produced in the best vintage years, with grapes from the farm’s prime south west grape growing areas. It is a blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In the first ten days of October, the grapes destined for this wine are carefully sorted, first in the vineyard and then on sorting belts in the cellar. The juice remains on the skins for 16-18 days after which racking takes place. Once malolactic fermentation has occurred, the wine is aged, first in small French oak barrels for 18-20 months and then in larger barrels. The minimum aging period is 30 months, at least 3 of which are in the bottle.
The wine is a deep ruby red colour. The aroma is very intense, persistent, delicate and full-bodied, with hints of oak and berries. a full, long, warm mouth feel.
Morino was the nickname of Silvano Damiani, a farmer who worked at Vignamaggio for over 40 years. He was given this name because of the colour of his skin which was bronzed during many hours working in the fields under the summer sun. Vignamaggio dedicated this wine to his memory.
Il Morino is a blend of between 60 to 70% Sangiovese and 30 to 40% Merlot grapes which come from the farm’s youngest vineyards. After aging for 9 months in steel tanks, the wine is bottled.
Il Morino is a fresh, pleasant, aromatic wine displaying a ruby red colour and lively on the palate. It's easy drink-ability makes it the perfect accompaniment to light every-day meals.
In Tuscany, Vinsanto is the wine of hospitality: in fact, it is often offered to guests as a before or after dinner drink or at the table as an accompaniment to pastries or marbled cheeses. Various suggestions have been made as to the origins of its name, none of which has been verified: wine of miracles that alleviates suffering in people with the plague, a wine similar to the one made in Xantos, a Greek island where Passito was made, otherwise simply the holy wine used in religious Mass; the etymology of Vinsanto, to this day, remains intriguing and mysterious.
This Vinsanto, produced from the Malvasia Lunga del Chianti and Trebbiano Toscano white grape varieties, represents a traditional Chianti wine. After a natural desiccation period of three months in a ventilated room, the grapes are pressed and the wine must obtained is placed without the skins, after a light filtering, in small 75-100 litre caratelli oak barrels where it ferments and where it remains for at least four years before it is bottled. The wine always produces a sugar residue, more or less significant depending on the vintage.
The wine is a golden yellow colour with amber reflections, the fragrance is typically of honey and nuts. It is warm on the palate, intense, distinctly sweet but held together by a nice acidity.
The grappa is a product of Vignamaggio’s best fermented Chianti Classico grape pomace and is obtained via a process of discontinuous-cycle steam distillation, in an old copper alambic distiller. The grappa remains in small oak barrels for at least 12 months. The resulting alcohol grading is 40°.
The Grappa has an amber colour, a full aroma with hints of wood and nuts and a smooth, delicate, harmonious flavour.
Anthony Byrne Fine Wines Ltd. Registered in England and Wales with company number 01713692.