March 25: I was impressed by the Chianti wines from Tenuta Bossi in Pontessieve in Chianti Rufina zone first in 2017 and decided to explore further by visiting the estate and tasting the range of these wines, writes Subhash Arora who had an opportunity last month to visit with Gerardo Gondi, the elder son of the owner Marchesi Bernardo Gondi, who drove him to the family estate with gorgeous views of and from the Estate, and tasted some very palatable and pleasing wines
Tenuta Bossi based in Pontessieve in the Chianti Rufina sub-region of Tuscany had celebrated 45 years of their Chianti Rufina (1972-2017) in February 2017 during the Anteprima 2017 and invited me to a vertical tasting of 10 vintages of Chianti Rufina docg from that period. Since the Tasting was in the family-owned Palazzo Gondi in the Florence Centro overlooking the beautiful Duomo, I could not resist accepting the invite. I was impressed by the sight of the Duomo from such close quarters-I felt as if I could reach out and touch it through the window. The powerful vista reminded me of the Taj Mahal in Agra and a couple of hotels which are so close that one feels it is at an arms’ length.
But what impressed me more was the Tasting inside the Salon of the Renaissance Palazzo Gondi, built in 1489 and designed by the famous Giuliano da Sangallo. There were paintings on the walls and the ceiling making it so surrealistic that it brought to memory the Tastings at Sala Dante in San Gimignano where I taste 10-12 wines in a guided tasting every year. The wines were alive and generally drinking very well even after 45 years! I met Bernardo Gondi who is assisted by his wife and sons Gerardo and Lapo in making wine. I decided to put a visit to the wine estate on my bucket list; I had one day in Florence after the final Tasting of the Tuscan Marathon this year in February and was very pleased when Gerardo Gondi instantly acceded to my request to drive me to the family estate on a cold Sunday morning.
The Gondi family has been known to exist well before 1592 when the ancestors bought the estate in Chianti Rufina, which was well before the 1716 declaration of the Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici through a decree which defined the area and the boundaries for making Chianti-including the current area of Chianti Classico, Pomino (Chianti Rufina), Valdarno di Sopra and Carmignano. This was the forerunner for the DOCG wine classification and was the first example of defining the boundary of wine production in Italy. In fact, there is a thick coffee table book simply titled Gondi, taking you through the journey of the Gondi family that I had experienced at the Tasting 2 years ago and saw a copy again at the Estate during my visit.
The Marchesi Gondi – Tenuta Bossi is located in the heart of Chianti Rufina, a famous Tuscan wine region known since the renaissance. With its 315 hA of Estate having 19 hA of vineyards and 32 hA of olive groves, woods and grains, it beckons you. The Estate belongs to the GONDI family since 1592, the ancient Florentine family of which records can be found as far back as in the 13th century. They do not buy any grapes and produce only 50,000-60,000 cases a year. All the work in the vineyards is done manually.
Underneath the villa there are the vaulted cellars that I visited, where the wines mature in oak barrels and barriques. Chianti Rufina DOCG, Super Tuscan IGT, Bianco DOC, Rosato IGT and a Vin Santo DOC are produced here. There was also a barrel of Chianti Rufina resting in a tank earmarked for Gran Selezione. Apparently, the word is out that just like Chianti Classico, the consortium of this small appellation, is soon to announce the new appellation within this year ‘and when it does, we will be ready with the first batch of Gran Selezione in 1921, informs Gerardo with a twinkle in his eyes.
The wines of the estate, as indeed the wines of this area, are characterised by the elegance of the primary aromas with abundance of violets and red berries.The area of vineyards is at a decent height of 250-550 meters while the soil has marl, clay and calcareous sediments, giving a fine texture and structure to the wine.
Gerardo told me that he was the 25th generation of the Marchesi family making wine and olive oil as he narrated to me the history of the area. This decree by the Grand Duke defined the area which included Rufina (Pontessieve is in the heart of this area) and so they are very proud of the Estate and their wines. They also have a small agri-turismo which is packed during the season- we were not into the season on that Sunday, the 17 February and the area was deserted though full of sunshine.
I tasted a range of their 9 wines as well as olive oil which I found really impressive. Amongst the 7 wines I tasted, I found Villa Bossi Chianti Rufina 2013 the most palatable wine and with the reasonable price, it was the best value for money wine. Made from vines cultivated in 1989, it has used 80% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% of other local grapes. Made in Burgundy style, the wine has been aged for 4 years before release. With great balance and harmony it is the wine to drink now or a few years later thanks to the structure (95/100).
THE Wine of the Estate is Fiammae 2015-a single vineyard 100% Sangiovese wine made from grapes 50% of which are dried and 50% are fresh, making such a special wine that only 500 bottles were made in this maiden vintage and uses sealing was as the sheath on the bottle. The sales have started recently only and over a 100 bottles have already been sold to Russian buyers even though the price is steep at around €250. It could be considered an Amarone styled wine that has only slightly higher alcohol at 14-14.5% as compared to the 12.5-13% in Chianti.
Mazzaferata 2012 is another special wine-in fact this is the Cabernet Sauvignon made by his father Bernardo Gondi in 1989. With complex and concentrated bouquet of black fruits and cherries on the palate, this wine can age for 25-30 years (93/100). Ser Amerigo 2010 was another wine that impressed my palate with 40% Merlot and 40% Sangiovese. Having spent one year in big botte, another one in barrique and finally a couple of years in the bottle, have really made this dark coloured wine with aromas of Eucalyptus, liquorice and cherries a special wine too. It is softer and rounder and a more feminine wine. (92/100) Incidentally, Gondi’s ancestors have been financiers and financed the trip of the Italian explorer from Tuscany Giovanni Verrazzano in the early 16th century. Based on those trips the wine has been named Ser Amerigo.
For a copy of Bando (the decree) please visit:
To know more about the Gondi family, Estate or their wines, please visit www.tenutabossi.com
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