Undiscovered Gems from Northern Chianti: Fattoria Dianella
Fattoria Dianella is a historic wine estate west of Florence, in the heart of Chianti country. It sits in a namesake village dating back to the 1500s, not far from the birthplace of historical artist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci. In the early 1900s the estate was purchased by the Billeri family and later passed to the Conti Passerin d’Entrèves e Courmayeur family. Today this estate remains in the family, owned and operated by Francesco and Veronica Passerin d’Entrèves, who manage the business with deep passion and commitment to the highest quality they can achieve, while embracing and protecting their centuries of tradition.
The modern wine estate was started in the 1970s, and physical improvements to the winemaking facilities were fast and furious, evolving to modern times quickly. Today the facilities are extensive, meticulously cared for, and squeaky clean. In addition to the winery, adjacent vineyards and olive groves, the estate also offers a full service wine resort tendering their guests comfortable lodging, a quaint delicious restaurant, and a relaxing swimming pool. The estate has a total of 90 hectares, 26 of which are vineyards that are managed organically. The predominant grape type is the Sangiovese, and they also grow Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Vermentino, Malvasia and Orpicchio. Beyond their broad selection of wines, they also produce olive oil, cosmetics, and more. The property is meticulously maintained and is a thing of great passion and beauty.
Dianella embraces the practice of organic farming with the utmost respect for nature’s rhythms and seasons. Their love for the land translates to a high level of care and guarantees a long future for the winery. In 2022 their Chianti, along with some of their other wines, became certified organic and bear the Vino Biologico heading on the label. What does this mean to the consumer? It means the exclusive use of green manure, no chemical fertilizers, hand picking, and everything that allows them to create the perfect balance between a thriving plant and its surrounding environment. To me, it means they deeply care about their wines, while protecting their vineyards that produce them for future generations.
Each plot of the vineyard is harvested separately, then moved to the cellar where the process of vinification begins in stainless steel tanks with fermentation. The cellars, which are underground, are located beneath the estate villa and adjacent park. When modernized, the historical cellars were approached with the goal of protecting the function and aesthetics of the original cellar rooms, some of which have been preserved as a museum. The balance of the rooms were modernized and expanded in the 1990s, and then completely reequipped in 2012. The cutting edge equipment that now graces them is fundamental to the evolution of the juice as it passes from the vinification process to the aging rooms. There, the wine is transferred to barrels and barriques, where it is aged prior to bottling. Cement aging vessels are also located here.
Their consulting enologist is the highly talented and seriously experienced Franco Bernabei, who consults at legendary estates like Felsina, Fontodi, Molino di Grace, Selvapiana and many more. His talents and experience are expressed in every bottle.
Dianella’s organic wines, which are produced exclusively on the estate and from estate grown fruit, are an expression of their territory of origin. The organic labels will eventually include all of their wines: Chianti, Chianti Riserva, Matto delle Giuncaie, Le Veglie di Neri, Sereno e Nuvole, All’Aria Aperta, Dolci Ricordi, and the three Maria Vittoria and Ottavia labels: Ancestrale, Brut Sangiovese Rosé and the Brut Vermentino. Even the rare, latest addition to their portfolio, Orpicchio, made from a biotype of Trebbiano recovered on the estate, producing 1500 bottles per year, which are individually numbered and dedicated to a different local event each year, will be organic.
The future is bright for this rising Tuscan star, stay-tuned for the release of many more treasures as new vintages emerge and their stateside distribution broadens.
2021 Fattoria Dianella, Toscana Vermentino, Sereno E Nuvole (RT93) This attractive 100% Tuscan grown Vermentino, aged in stainless for 3 months, shows a glittering platinum hue. Crafted from grapes grown in Pliocene soils rich in fossil shells, it reveals notes of yellow apple, white peach, apple blossom, a hint of sea salt and a pinch of flint. With time in the glass its complexity grows, adding to its curb appeal. A body of luxurious ripe fruit delivers an almost creamy, mouth coating texture that finishes with a decided richness not often found in stainless aged vermentino. I suggest small pours to maintain a cool delivery temperature, which will ensure its freshness and overall satisfaction. Highly pleasing, this is masterfully crafted Vermentino. Drink now-2026 Tasted October 2023
2021 Fattoria Dianella, Chianti (RT91) A blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Colorino, aged in concrete for 8 months, which maintains its fruity freshness. The 2022 will be released as a certified organic wine under the heading vino biologico. The concrete aging of this Chianti creates a fresh, early drinking style that delivers an impressive value for the red wine aficionado. Classic ruby garnet in hue, the aromatics serve up a morello cherry and red currant smoothie of sweet sensory delights as the palate is packed with delicious, ripe fruit. This is pure joy to drink, a savory, fresh, fruit forward Chianti without the tannins commonly associated with Chianti and the other nearby Chianti appellations. An outstanding value from a terrific winemaker. Drink now-2028 Tasted October 2023
2018 Fattoria Dianella, Chianti Riserva (RT94) Similar to the Chianti, this is a slightly different percentage blend of the same varieties with 95% Sangiovese and 5% Colorino. However, a finer selection of grapes grown in their oldest Sangiovese vineyard plots, are sorted, vinified, and then aged for 18 months in Slovonian botti, followed by a few months in bottle prior to release. The result is markedly different. The classicism of Chianti Riserva shines in a proud way as thunderous notes of black cherry, dried florals, forest scrub and damp earth waft from the glass, with time the essence of the Tuscan experience emerges as notes of dust and minerality remind one of the wine’s home. The palate is beautifully austere as the ripe fruit stands juxtaposed against the mouth watering acidity and ripe, but firm tannins. The is a gorgeous expression of Tuscany’s Sangiovese variety, accented by the small detail provided by the Colorino. An attractively priced classic! Drink 2024-2038 Tasted October 2023
2020 Fattoria Dianella, Toscana, Le Veglie di Neri (RT93) Here the blend is 85% Sangiovese with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, creating a wine that delivers a very different sensory experience. The Sangiovese is aged in cement tanks for 8-10 months while the Cabernet aged in French oak barrels, mainly second passage, for a similar timeframe. The two are then blended and the wine is aged for 6 months in bottle. The Cabernet adds a powerful twist to the Sangiovese as bold notes of red currant, plum and a hint of graphite minerality blend with sweet red cherry and dusty spices. The palate is neatly detailed and beautifully balanced with ripe fruit, fresh acidity, and ripe, succulent tannins. At this early stage of development, it is showing ample fruit, so I suggest saving a few bottles to see how they evolve in the cellar. I suspect cellar time will be this wine’s friend. Drink now-2035 Tasted October 2023