The Monte Bernardi estate covers 53 hectares, 15 of which are under vine. 4.8 of these hectares are held on a long lease, which was taken out in 2011. The vineyards are situated in the hilly, southern-most region of Panzano, an area long acknowledged as one of the Grand Crus of Chianti Classico.
Michael Schmelzer and his family bought the estate in 2003, and have invested heavily in it ever since. The vines are planted on a soil of a high rock content mixture which, depending on the vineyard, consists of shale (Galestro), sandstone (Arenaria) and limestone (Alberese). The vineyards are perfectly situated at an altitude of 350 metres above sea level, surrounded by forests and enjoying a southern exposure, with the river Pesa flowing just a few hundred metres to the south.
The estate has been certified organic and biodynamic since 2004. Grass and cover crops are grown in alternate rows: composted cow manure and biodynamic preparations are used. Harvesting is by hand, usually from late September until mid-October.
Annual production is between 55,000 and 65,000 bottles. None of the wines are filtered. The wines are pure and elegant, with bright fruit and great length. They are also vegan.
Retromarcia Chianti Classico is 100% Sangiovese: fermentation and maceration on the skins. The wine is aged for 18 months, 30% in unlined concrete tanks and the rest in used tonneaux.
Monte Bernardi Chianti Classico Riserva (95% Sangiovese and 5% Canaiolo Nero) comes from 40-year-old vines, planted in soils of friable shale and limestone. Fermentation and maceration on the skins in stainless steel and oak vats. It is aged for 24 months in oak casks.
Sa’Etta Chianti Classico Riserva (100% Sangiovese). The best grapes are selected from Sa’Etta, a single vineyard which benefits from the best position, exposure and terrain on the estate – highly reflective sandstone (Arenaria-Calcare-Pietraforte) rich with quartz inclusions. After natural fermentation, in large oak casks, the wine is placed in a combination of German and Austrian oak where it undergoes malolactic fermentation. The wine remains in oak for at least 24 months, followed by finishing in bottle for another 12 months.
Tzingarella IGT (Gypsy girl) is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Merlot (40%), Cabernet Franc (15%), and Colorino (5%) from the younger vineyards. Fermentation and maceration on the skins in stainless steel tanks, followed by 18 months aging in barriques and tonneaux.
Tzingana IGT (Gypsy woman) is a Bordeaux style blend of Merlot (45%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), Cabernet Franc (20%), and Petit Verdot (15%). Natural fermentation and maceration on skins in temperature-controlled steel vats. 18-24 months in barriques and tonneaux.
Sangiò Chianti Classico comes from another estate in Panzano which Monte Bernardi bought in 2019. The vineyards are now undergoing organic conversion.
Fiasco Vino Toscano is an affectionate, amusing nod in the direction of those straw-covered flasks which became such popular table lamps! The wine is a blend of bought-in organic grapes: Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Malvasia Nera & Colorino from Tuscany; Montepulciano from Le Marche and Frappato, Nerello Mascalese and Nero d’Avola from Sicily. Really gluggable and great value.