1969 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio


Monsanto’s 1969 Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio was a very pleasant surprise after a long day of visits and tastings. Monsanto is one of the historic estates of Chianti Classico. Fabrizio Bianchi was an early pioneer in pushing for the elimination of white grapes in Chianti Classico back in the 1960s, a radical idea at the time. Today his daughter, Laura Bianchi runs Monsanto with an enormous reverence for the heritage of the estate. Among other things, Monsanto has what is very likely the greatest collection of older vintages of any winery in Italy.

“The 1969 is a wine that reflects the spirit of Il Poggio,” Bianchi told me as she prepared the bottle. “As you know, 1969 was not a highly regarded vintage. It was a very cold year. The wine was hard for a long time, but, then, about ten years ago it started to come into its own. Over the years I learned from Il Poggio that I have to wait for her. Sometimes I used to get angry because the wine was not expressive immediately. But then I understood I have to wait for the wine, and not the other way around.’”

Castello di Monsanto’s 1969 Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio is fabulous right out of the gate. Then again, it is not exactly a young wine at this stage. Pipe tobacco, spice, worn-in leather and sweet dried cherry are the signatures of a wine that is fully mature, and yet bright acids keep things in gorgeous balance. I am struck by how much richness the 1969 Il Poggio still has. There is a hint of the sweetness often found in older wines, which Bianchi attributes to a slight presence of botrytis in the fruit. The 1969 is a blend of Sangiovese, Canaiaolo and Colorino made at a time when white grapes were mandatory in the blend for Chianti. Fabrizio Bianchi gave his 1969 three and half years in chestnut casks. The 1969 is an absolutely gorgeous wine that captures an early era in the modern history in what is today Chianti Classico. 92/Drink 2021-2026.