Le Ragnaie is a winery in the hills surrounding Montalcino, where they make the famous Brunello di Montalcino wine. Riccardo shows us his vineyards and cellar, and of course their wine. Le Ragnaie has the highest vineyards in all of Montalcino, 621 m at its highest point, in the south-western part of the area. But they also have other vineyards in other parts of Montalcino.
The soil in the Ragnaie vineyards is "retreated" sea: sand, with sandstone underneath. But all 5-6 vineyards in the area have different soils, like more clay and river stones, for example.
Different to a more common vinification style in Montalcino is that Le Ragnaie uses a long maceration time, usually around 40 days (minimum), to give their wine more structure, complexity, elegance and lightness because of better integrated tannins.
During the tour around the winery, they taste some wine from the barrel. For example: 2015 was a ripe vintage, ripe vintages can suppress the terroir a little, so the wine expresses less elegance and finesse.
Riccardo, originally from Siena, was always passionate about wine and he was driven to become a winemaker. The nearby Montalcino wines were legendary and so he bought a rundown property in the area to follow his dream. The first vintage was 1991 and he has grown ever since.
His DOCG Chianti Colli Senesi, a couple of years ago, was denied the appellation status because the 2014 vintage was to light in color. Riccardo doesn't really understand why, because even though 2014 was a bad year (very cool and rainy), Sangiovese is naturally quite light in color, if vinified in the traditional style. Actually, it shouldn't be too dark at all. He thinks the local consortium might be used to the darker Chianti wines because the Chianti Colli Senesi appellation allows up to 20% of other grape varieties, like Merlot, to be blended in, which leads to a darker colored wine. The consortium denied him the appellation twice in a row, so he stopped making Chianti DOCG wines. Instead, he 'declassified' to a small production of what is now called: IGT Troncone.