It was at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s when wine production regulations that govern the DOCs in Tuscany and in Chianti became obsolete and favored quantity over quality. There was, furthermore, no interest in promoting new winemaking techniques to stay in line with the times.
A winery in those years, for example, that would have liked to produce a monovarietal Sangiovese wine or, in any case, a monovarietal red wine, would not have been able to label it as a Chianti Classico wine, as the regulation stipulated the use of a minimum percentage of white grapes.
It was because of this that some forward-thinking wine producers started to produce quality wines outside the limitations of the DOC regulations. In those days, these wines could be labeled as table wines only (a couple of years later they could also be labeled as IGT wines). In order to tell them apart from the cheap wines of low quality but with the same definitions on the label, the American wine critics started to call them Supertuscans.
The term Supertuscan thus indicated a high-quality wine, however every winery had its own style and philosophy. Some perhaps produced monovarietal Sangiovese wines, whereas some made a blend of Sangiovese and international grapes, while even others decided to leave out the Sangiovese completely in favor of other grape varieties.
It was in this context, that I also felt like trying to plant a couple hundred Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines in a new vineyard lot at the Montefioralle estate in the early 1980s.
The wine from these new vines started to be produced a few years later and was in need of a different name and label to distinguish itself from the Chianti Classico. While searching for a name that somehow could act as a contrast to the new wine, I decided to use an ancient name: Monteficalle. Indeed, Monteficalle (translated as the “Mountain of Figs”) was the ancient name of the Montefioralle village (the “Mountain of Flowers) from which our winery got its name.
In the beginning, the Monteficalle was ⅓ Cabernet Sauvignon, ⅓ Merlot, and ⅓ Sangiovese.
In order to separate the wine even more from our Chianti Classico, we decided in 2010 to change the blend to 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 20% Sangiovese. We still used the best grapes from the oldest Sangiovese vines for this wine, the same grapes that we selected for our Chianti Classico Riserva.
In 2014, when more than 40% of production was lost due to a very rainy summer, we changed the blend again as we were lacking Sangiovese grapes of high quality and needed to use them all for our Chianti Classico Riserva. The new blend we decided on was 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot.
Since then, this blend has remained the same, as the Cabernet and Merlot vines now are old enough to be able to produce a high-quality wine on their own. Therefore, the best Sangiovese grapes in our vineyards are destined only for the Chianti Classico Riserva and the Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, a new type of wine that was introduced in 2013.