Our visit to the Istine Winery

Istine Winery: Spontaneity is the word that fully defines this all-female winery.

Welcoming us to the Istine Winery is Sofia, the very friendly associate of the winery’s owner, Angela Fronti. Oenologist under 40 winner of the Gambelli Prize 2019, a great honor and recognition from the master of Sangiovese. A young winery that is distinguishing itself from others by its ability to enhance the raw material and in particular the sangiovese variety, vintage and terroir.

We are located in the southern part of Radda in Chianti, between the Arbia and Pesa valleys, with some 20 hectares planted with vines between Radda and Gaiole, conducted under a certified organic regime since 2016.

Istine is a newly established winery that, like most winemaking histories, initially produced grapes to sell them (1960s) then Angela, after some experience as a winemaker in several wineries, decided to make wine and in 2009 came out with her first vintage of Chianti.
All the vineyards are located at high altitudes (550m/slm) with rocky matrix soils based on marl and limestone, totally surrounded by forest, their lung, and every now and then visiting them are some tough animals such as deer or wild boars that feed on the grapes. They then have junipers, rose hips, and other varieties that are then found in the final product.

To enhance the terroir, due to the heterogeneity of the plots, since 2012 they have decided to vinify the different crus separately.
The main grape variety is Sangiovese, then they also grow Malvasia del Chianti, Trebbiano Toscano, Canaiolo and Colorino.
After careful care in the vineyard, the grapes go into concrete tanks to ferment spontaneously, with long macerations on the skins (about 45 days!) with submerged cap. A technique that is called “Piedmontese” in Chianti but is actually totally different from what is done in the Langhe, which is splinting (when the cap is submerged with wooden splints). Angela, on the other hand, when alcoholic fermentation ends and the cap naturally drops, fills the tank with the same wine and closes it. Thus obtaining a more balanced product with rounder tannins. Then aging in large Slavonian oak barrels.

The tastings

We start by tasting their

Chianti Classico 2020

100% Sangiovese, harvested in the Istine, Casanova dell’Aia and Cavarchione vineyards. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in cement and stainless steel tanks. Aged over 12 months in Slavonian oak barrels and partially aged in concrete barrels. A combination of freshness and juiciness.

The following three crus were vinified in the same way in order to best express the terroir of each plot. All Sangiovese grapes were harvested by hand. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in concrete, then 12 months in Slavonian oak barrels and one year of bottle aging.

Chianti Classico Vigna Istine 2020

Selection of the best grapes from the Istine vineyard located in Radda in Chianti, bordering Castellina in Chianti. Sharp and mineral.

Chianti Classico Vigna Casanova dell’Aia 2020

By far the most representative of the terroir. Pleasant nose between fruit and menthol notes. An acidity that refreshes the sip. Long, savory finish.

Chianti Classico Vigna Cavarchione 2019

Selected near the Borgo di Vertine in Gaiole in Chianti. Inviting, voluptuous nose with a gentle tannic texture.

The reserve, on the other hand, gets special treatment. It is the result of Sangiovese grapes alone, harvested from the Istine, Casanova dell’Aia (Radda) and Cavarchione (Gaiole) vineyards. Vinification takes place in separate tanks for each vineyard, after a year in wood there will be the selection of the masses destined to become “Le Vigne,” which represents the best expression of the estate. The blended wine rests another 12 months in oak and 12 aging in bottle.

Chianti Classico Riserva Le Vigne 2019

Austere, balsamic, elegant with great structure that will be at its best in a few years.

Can Chianti and Vermouth fit in the same sentence? Yes, and they also look very good together.

Vermouth di Radda” is Istine’s new bet, a novelty that always brings back the enhancement of the territory. The idea came from the stimulus of Angela’s friends: Stefania known gardener in Chianti, Sabrina restaurateur, Rachele graphic designer and Fabio bartender. Finally, to market the product, it has entered into a partnership with the historic Bordiga distillery in Cuneo.
It is a vermouth made from pure Sangiovese rosé, a sensual color that is enhanced by the clear glass and no added caramel.
The nose is intriguing, a floral first impact that then gives way to more herbaceous hints. It is elegant on the palate and its pleasant freshness invites the sip.

And after Vermouth, comes Gin. “Dante’s Cuddles” is a London Dry Gin born from the idea of wanting to use and enhance the forest surrounding Istine, which is rich in juniper plants. They were taught to “beat” juniper by people who did it 70 years ago. The name is an association between territory, in Radda the juniper berry is called “cuddle,” and history. In fact, Dante is the last sharecropper who lived in Istine and would go to the woods to collect cuddles. It is the result of hydroalcoholic infusion together with coriander, angelica, cardamom, lemon and orange peel. Then distilled in a discontinuous bain-marie still.

We like Istine and have reserved the Chianti Classico Casanova dell’Aia that will arrive in a few months; at home you can already try the Chianti Classico 2021 and the Vermouth di Radda, appreciable either on its own or served with ice and kumquat zest.

We invite you to make your reservation online at https://www.quelcastello.it/prenota/