A bygone wine: 1991 Chianti Montalbano by Capezzana


Tuesday morning finds me on the road and on a secret mission, ferrying precious cargo, and so I cannot reveal my location. But I can share my impressions of one of the most amazing wines I’ve tasted in a long time, a truly bygone bottle (to borrow Eric’s phrase from his bygone blog The Pour, requiescat in pace): 1991 Chianti Montalbano by Capezzana.

The Montalbano subzone of Chianti is one of the growing areas that enjoyed great celebrity in a bygone era, eclipsing the fame of appellations that enjoy household brand status today (like Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino). On another day, when I have more time and access to my library at home, I’ll have to look up what Edmondo de Amicis said famously of this appellation, which, according to legend, he enjoyed immensely despite his abstinence.

Today, only a handful of wineries produce Chianti Montalbano and I don’t have time to figure out when the regal Capezzana estate, famed producer of Carmignano, bottled its last Montalbano.

The 1991 harvest was a good although not great vintage in Tuscany but this wine was very, very much alive, with bright fruit and acidity. Old-school Sangiovese, probably with a kiss of Canaiolo to lend some color and mouthfeel.


My companions and I expected it to “fall away,” shortly after being opened but over the roughly 45 minutes it took us to consume the bottle, it remained vibrant and beautiful — one of the greatest wines I’ve tasted in some time (and I must say that I have the good fortune to taste a lot of good ones!).

To anyone who can share info about this bottle, please do so!

In other news…

I’m writing in hurry today because on the road but I’m happy to report that one of the upshots of the current volcanic crisis in Europe is that American wine professionals and European winemakers alike are stuck in Europe. As a result, I’m hearing reports that lots of folks are getting together to taste and to visit wineries. When life gives you lemons, the saying goes…

More later… and thanks for reading…

7 thoughts on “A bygone wine: 1991 Chianti Montalbano by Capezzana

  1. Great note and info Jeremy, this was a nice little pull from the cellar, I was not expecting as much from this wine but is was a nice surprise, it actually got more nuance in the glass after 30 mins.

  2. @Simon thanks again man for letting me share that with ya’ll… that was such a thoughtful choice! Honestly, I’ll never forget that one… see you soon! And if anyone’s reading, I guess the cat’s out of the bag: Simon’s got the good juice! ;-)

  3. well shit dude, lets drink together then : )
    so what the hell was this bottle telling you…. red fruit, old leather, tobaci, some pig shit?

  4. J:

    Cool label and I’ll bet that wine was great! Thanks for sharing.

    Now I’ll have to find something at least that good from my cellar for your visit to Chicago next week. Looking forward to some great pizza!

  5. found this


    As stated above, wine production in Carmignano dates back to the Etruscans and later the Roman period. At the end of the 14th century Datini wrote of buying Carmignano wine for a large sum for his cellars in Prato; in the 17th century Redi praised Carmignano wine as worthy of Jove. Furthermore, Carmignano was designated by Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici (in 1716) as one of the four best areas for wine growing in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The ‘Motu proprio’ Decree and ‘Bando’ laid down precise rules for production, set out geographical boundaries and regulated trade in the wines from these areas, thereby making up the first ‘D.O.C.’ (denomination of controlled origin) in the world.
    Between the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, the cellars of Marchese Niccolin’s estate (today part of Capezzana estate) produced and exported Carmignano.
    A period of decline followed and in the 1930’s the historic Medici Carmignano D.O.C. label was incorporated into the Chianti Montalbano D.O.C. For Carmignano producers the return of the ‘Carmignano’ denomination represented the recovery of their wine’s historic and territorial identity: it was a lengthy and difficult battle in which Ugo Contini Bonacossi played a fundamental role.
    In 1975 the Carmignano D.O.C. was finally recognized – retroactively, for mature wines, as far back as the 1969 vintage.
    In 1990 the D.O.C.G. label (denomination of guaranteed controlled origin) was granted, retroactively back to 1988.

  6. @Jason the guys at Graileys are awesome and they always have something great to taste. I’ll meet you in Dallas dude!

    @Tom very psyched for Thurs.!

    @Danny Carmignano and Pomino are both really interesting appellations that enjoyed immense fame in 1930s and even before, as the note you reposted reveals. I used to lecture on the 1716 decree in my Italian Wine and Civ. class. It’s a fascinating document! thanks for reading! :-)

  7. I am there dude. right now i am in PA, then DC then NY for a show. i go back the land of ice and snow on the 4th. i need to go back to TEXAS though

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