Savignola Paolina

Matt Kramer of the Wine Spectator chose Savignola Paolina as one of three producers to represent the best, traditional wine-making in Chianti Classico; these wines are over 95% Sangiovese, with the balance in Canaiolo, and he describes them as terroir-driven, representing “what Italians would call la verità (the truth)..."If Mozart made Chianti, it’d be Paolina," Kramer concluded.

The Savignola estate, whose name has Etruscan origins, was originally a Christian settlement, built in the early 17th century. Savignola's first real success came from Paolina Fabbri, who between the two world wars co-founded the Chianti Classico ("Black Rooster") consortium. Now her granddaughter, Ludovica Fabbri, follows in her footsteps, shining in a still predominately male domain.

The estate now extends over an area of approximately 8 hectares, with 1 hectare of olive groves and 6 hectares of vines. The vineyards are planted to a density of 4,500 vines per hectare, and enjoy a west-southwestern exposure. While a small portion of the vines date back to 1950, the majority were planted from 1992-1998, with some more recent plantings from 2003-2006. The main grape grown is of course Sangiovese, accompanied by Colorino di Toscana, and Malvasia Nera. They prefer to harvest fairly late, towards the end of October, with the idea that a more intense ripeness best expresses their terroir; thanks to a climate that is quite cool, as well as an average altitude of 330 meters above sea-level, they do not sacrifice excellent acidity and fresh tannins in this pursuit of ripeness. All of the fruit is harvested by hand, and the property is in the process of conversion to organic agriculture.

The design and construction of the new cellar and the renovation of the old ones were based on the idea that the post-harvesting process is fundamental for the preservation of the unique characteristics of the grapes. Each varietal, and the the fruit of each vineyard, are allowed to ferment and age separately. After soft pressing, fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at the controlled temperature of 25-26°C, followed by maceration on the skins for approximately 10-12 days. Not afraid to use modern technology where it can be of benefit in producing their traditionally-styled wines, these tanks are state-of-the-art: each tank can also be heated by way of special insulation jackets, so that once maceration has been completed, the wine can start malolactic fermentation before they are put into medium-sized wooden barrels by the second half of November. The wines are aged in their ancient cellars for at least 18 months, and bottling occurs in accordance with lunar phases, after which the wine is left to rest in bottle for several more months before its release.