If you think you’ve seen all of Chianti’s expressions, Il Borghetto’s extremely detailed and ethereal Sangiovese may surprise you. Vinous’s Antonio Galloni describes the winery as one that “stands apart from the mainstream in Chianti Classico.”* In fact, owner Antonio Cavallini is an outsider, as the Chianti consortium has often denied him DOCG status for his wines. They cite his use of Burgundy bottles and other ‘problems’ with the wine. As Bob Dylan sings in Absolutely Sweet Marie, “To live outside the law, you must be honest.” And it’s no secret that some of Italy’s best producers, some of its most honest producers, are living “outside the [DOC/G] law.”
Antonio organically farms 5 hectares of vineyards and 12 hectares of olive groves, in Montefiridolfi, a hill top town in the northwest corner of Chianti Classico. The area could be considered sottozona or subzone of San Casciano zone. The clay soil with some limestone has excellent water retention and gives wines with finesse, freshness, and elegance, even during hot and dry vintages. The vineyard consists of an interesting mix of Sangiovese clones and biotypes (e.g. F9/R24 Biondi Santi clone). The harvest takes place in multiple passes row by row; the musts are then fermented in multiple parcels in the cellar before a final blending.
Antonio ferments using a percentage of whole clusters, which is unusual in Italy. This technique gives the wines a distinctive aromatic elegance and silky tannins.The approach in the cellar in general is minimal intervention, including native yeast fermentations in large open concrete vats or food-grade plastic containers. There are no pumps, all racking is with gravity. Herbal notes, crushed flowers, and elegant fruit describe the wines in general. The Montigiano bottling, with élevage in concrete, shows the pristine and herbal side of Sangiovese, with a touch of bitter; it’s great with grilled meat and veggie spiedini on the grill. The Monte de Sassi and Bilaccio bottlings age in used barrique (225L). Monte de Sassi cru presents more of an open-knit fruit, with a fun splash of Cannaiolo; the Bilaccio cru is a sophisticated weave of hushed and pillowy fruit and silky tannins. “Bilaccio remains one of the most intriguing and unique wines being made in Chianti Classico.” **
We’re thrilled to have these wines in the portfolio. And, if these Sangiovese wines are made by a Chianti outsider, I say let him in.
* Vinous, Antonio Galloni, January 2018.
** Vinous, Antonio Galloni, January 2018 on the 2014 Bilaccio.