Family and history
The Bianchi family is the beating heart around which Castello di Monsanto has developed over more than half a century, leaving an indelible mark in the history of Chianti Classico and helping to forge a future path.
Castello di Monsanto has long been an influential producer, becoming one of the best-known wineries in a region steeped in tradition and admired the world over. Its physical roots are built into the rock of the local land – yet the values that provide its spiritual home are no less solid.
Castello di Monsanto began as an intuition, before developing into an idea and then into a vision. That vision continues to inspire the evolution of Castello di Monsanto – a courageous, ambitious and revolutionary evolution… walking the line between respecting tradition and working to rewrite it.
How It all began:
Aldo and Fabrizio Bianchi
Sometimes, destiny leads you far from home, only for you to return to where you started and realize, in a strange twist of fate, that your home – you destiny – was right there in front of you all along.
Born in San Gimignano, Aldo Bianchi was forced to leave Tuscany before the Second World War to try his luck in the north. But when he returned for a wedding, he was instantly struck by the beautiful view from the terrace of the Castello di Monsanto: a view taking in the towers of his hometown, San Gimignano, the hills of the Chianti Fiorentino region, Monte Amiata and the peaks of the Apuan Alps.
A few short months after this lightbulb moment, Aldo was the owner of the property. Aldo had fallen in love with the beauty of the landscape. Yet just as strong was the sense of wonder and amazement when Fabrizio, Aldo’s son, tried the wines he found in the cellar.
Thanks to the passion for wine handed down to him by his Piedmontese grandmother – coupled with an innate entrepreneurial spirit – Fabrizio and his tireless wife Giuliana immediately grasped the value of the Monsanto terroir. The couple set about planting new vines and renovating the many farmhouses on the estate.
And so an incredible story of passion, joy and love for wine begins.
Il Poggio: the inspiration behind the first Chianti Classico cru
Inspiration never happens by chance. Fabrizio, who had seen the value of the area, as well as its beauty, realized that it was the perfect place to build something original and extraordinary. And he was right.
In 1962, he decided to make a wine from the grapes of a single vineyard, Il Poggio – something that had never been done in the Chianti Classico region. The result was the first Chianti Classico Cru.
The result was the first Chianti Classico Cru
Constant pursuit of quality
Increasingly confident in the quality of Sangiovese, in 1974 Fabrizio created the Fabrizio Bianchi Sangioveto Grosso wine from the Vigna di Scanni vineyard, which was planted in 1968. A table wine made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, Fabrizio Bianchi Sangiovet Grosso helped improve the reputation of Sangiovese grapes in Tuscany.
Meanwhile, the company incorporated plenty of innovative developments in the winery in order to improve the quality of the wines. In the early 1970s, for example, steel fermentation tanks were brought in to replace wooden tanks, which made controlling the temperature much easier. During the same period, the winery switched from chestnut barrels to Slavonian oak barrels, which delivered more subtle and less aggressive tannins.
In 1974, the winery began to experiment in order to produce a Tuscan white wine worthy of the name of the company. The Valdigallo vineyard was planted and would subsequently produce the Fabrizio Bianchi Chardonnay, a wine with plenty of personality on account of its rich minerality and robust acidity, which made it suitable for length aging processes. The new winery was completed in 1981 and a few months later the first Nemo wine was created, a pure Cabernet Sauvignon produced from grapes grown in the Il Mulino vineyard. The name of the wine was not chosen by chance, but rather to reflect the bold nature of the wine – a wine that transcended the traditions of the Chianti region.
THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE UNDERGROUND WINE CELLAR
In 1986, work on a bold project to build an underground gallery began. Mario Secci, Giotto Cicionesi and Romolo Bartalesi, who had spent many years working with the company to renovate the farmhouses, were the men who rose to the challenge of building – by hand – a 300-meter underground gallery to store the wooden barrels. The only material that could be used was galestro rocks excavated when creating the vineyards, while the medieval technique of wooden arches was used to create a beautiful and long, low Etruscan arched tunnel.
Work was completed in 1992, six years later. The spirit and strength of the three men lives on in their masterpiece to this day. Described as an “ingenious” feat that was bold to the point of being “crazy” by Antonio Boco of Gambero Rosso, the underground gallery encapsulates the character and spirit of Monsanto.
THE NEXT GENERATION AS THE CUSTODIANS OF TRADITION: LAURA BIANCHI’S TIME COMES
In 1989, Laura Bianchi – the daughter of Fabrizio – began working for the company. Over time, she learned from the land, from the people that worked it and from her father about the wonders and struggles of the delicate process stretching from caring for the vineyards to producing a great wine.
Laura’s success has been that of transforming Fabrizio’s revolutionary approach into established traditions. Firmly convinced of the need to protect and care for past memories while learning from all the good that had come before, Laura – who believes that only a deep understanding of the past can enable you to build a solid future – continued the work of her father, showing the same love for the land and adding meticulous care and attention for even the smallest details. In 2001, Laura and Fabrizio decided to hire an enologist, Andrea Giovannini. This partnership has led to a strong bond and synergy of minds that has seen the winery take another step forward in terms of strengthening its identity.