Le Pergole Torte, the story of a cult wine in Chianti that isn’t a Chianti!
Le Pergole Torte is possibly Tuscany’s most famed Sangiovese wine, but ironically, even though made within a well-known appellation like Chianti Classico, it doesn’t wear the DOCG “fascetta” seal or the historical black rooster emblem.
The original recipe for Chianti Classico required the wine to be a blend. The primary grape was and still is Sangiovese, but the blending partners were Canaiolo (local red) with Malvasia Bianca Lunga (white) and Trebbiano Toscano (white). These were the field grape varieties of the past, often co-planted and harvested all together. That was the way it was, it was tradition and then became law with the first DOC for Chianti Classico in 1967.
Perhaps even more than tradition, it was a necessity at the time to give the Sangiovese some company – a sort of risk management in case of disease or difficult weather. It was a different mindset altogether and it made good sense – until it didn’t.
Sergio Manetti, the owner of the Montevertine estate, was an attentive grape grower and ahead of his time. In the 70’ies and 80’ies, the Chianti region was nowhere close to wanting to let go of age-old traditions, so when Sergio voiced that Sangiovese could be made as a single varietal wine he was booed and had to carry on without the consensus of his peers.
To put it into context, it was an era in which Chianti was suffering from a poor reputation and producers were starting to look beyond tradition and to experiment with their own ideas. Some planted foreign grapes next to their native grapes; others borrowed new techniques from abroad. Small barrels from France took the place of cement vats or large barrels. So Sergio was not alone to be thinking of change. He left the Chianti appellation in 1981 and continued his pursuit to produce fine wine using only his own small farm’s brand and his quest paid off as his pure Sangiovese "Le Pergole Torte" became a cult wine.
Sergio passed away in 2001 and his son Martino is continuing his father’s legacy.
With the modernization of the vineyards in the region, bettered vineyard management and the continuous search for better Sangiovese clones, in 2006 the rules for Chianti Classico finally changed so white grapes could no longer be part of the blend. Today it’s allowed to make Chianti Classico of pure Sangiovese. 25 years too late, one could say – for the appellation could have benefitted from the fame that one single winery got all by itself.