The Manetti family has been famous for generations in Chianti, but not for wine: its renown is linked to the production of the terracotta of Impruneta. A well deserved fame: it was the firm of Dino and Domiziano Manetti which produced the roof tiles for the restoration work on the dome of the cathedral of Florence and provided the flooring for the Uffizi gallery as well. Nowadays it is difficult to say whether the Manetti are better known for their wine or for the terracotta, even if their adventure in the world of wine is far more recent. The first step was the purchase, in 1968, of the Fontodi estate in the heart of the Florentine part of Chianti Classico, near the country church of San Leonino in a valley which opens up to the south of Panzano. The area has been known for centuries as “the golden slopes” for its exceptional position: the soil is difficult to work but the grapes are of exceptional quality. The sign that something had changed for the Manetti in their rapport with what had simply been a country house came in 1980, when the entire family moved to the property. It was the younger generation which took charge of the vineyards and the cellar, the young children of Dino, Giovanni and Marco, though always with the close supervision of the elder generation, their father and uncle.
In fact, it was with the next vintage, in 1981, that new wine was born alongside the traditional Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva, an offering that would create a sensation, Flaccianello della Pieve. The wine was conceived, along with the younger Manetti brothers, by a young oenologist, Franco Bernabei, a man with important ambitions. A pure Sangiovese from the best exposed vineyard of the property, the wine was fermented in a way which was both traditional and innovative: the period of skin contact was a lengthy one, but with a constant control of the temperature. After the initial phase, the wine, in the following March, went into small oak barrels for aging, French oak from the Massif Central, and after a lengthy aging period was given additional bottle aging time as well. Since then Fontodi has made enormous progress, the cellars have been enlarged, more land has been acquired (of the estates 275 acres, 175 are planted to vines, all cultivated according to the dictates of biological agriculture), new wines have been created, but the fame of the estate is linked to Flaccianello della Pieve, which in fine vintages truly reaches the heights. Other classy wines are not lacking in the estate’s portfolio: the spicy Case Via and the Chianti Classico Riserva from a special vineyard, Sorbo. Flaccianello is in a class of its own.