Wine Notes – Chianti Reborn
Every time I get the opportunity to speak with successful winemakers, I am inspired by their ability to work under unpredictable conditions to produce the best product they can. Plus, their product is wine and we know drinking wine makes people happy.
Although I don’t get to travel as frequently as I would like, the next best thing happens when winemakers from around the world come to visit me — during New Hampshire wine week.
Okay, they really don’t just come to visit me. Every winter, winemakers from all over the world converge on New Hampshire to tell their story and allow us to taste their wines. This year, I made plans to meet with several prominent winemakers for personal interviews. First up was Antonio Zaccheo, Jr., owner of Carpineto wines.
Zaccheo is a second-generation winemaker. He graduated magna cum laude at San Francisco University and received his MBA from the University of California at Davis. Zaccheo has been attending events during wine week for at least the past 12 years. He recalls one occasion during which he became ill and was taken to the Catholic Medical Center in Manchester where he was impressed with the quality of care. The experience led him to support the annual CMC annual wine dinner at the Manchester Country Club.
In 1967, his father Antonio Mario Zaccheo Sr. created Carpineto wines, along with partner Giovanni Carlo Sacchet. Together, they envisioned the renaissance of Chianti. You may remember those wine bottle candleholders with the bulbous bottoms engulfed in straw. That bottle is called a “Fiasco” and, as Zaccheo jokes, the contents of that bottle was a fiasco.
He still runs the family company himself, along with his sister who works in the office, and his father, who is 75 and still involved in operations. They lost co-founder Giovanni Sacchet a couple years ago but his two daughters remain very involved, one of whom is the head winemaker. Zaccheo notes, “There is an owner’s eye in every aspect of our operations.”
Carpineto produces approximately 250,000 cases of wine each year and is considered a medium-size winemaker. They have five estates in Tuscany, including Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Maremma, plus two estates in the Chianti Classico region. The primary grape variety grown in each of these estates is Sangiovese but you can expect unique qualities to express themselves from these various regions. Zaccheo is the primary worldwide ambassador of the Carpineto brand but, as he points out, “For the most part we are spending a lot of time in the vineyards, which doesn’t exactly turn into sales, but is good for the product.”
One of Zaccheo’s favorite activities is getting exercise by walking the vineyards and checking the progress of their crop. At their Vino Nobile estate, they cultivate 200 acres of dry farmed hillside vineyards — the largest contiguous high-density vineyard in Italy.
There is simply no way you could personally manage this area without technological assistance. Zaccheo notes, “We have weather stations planted in strategic parts of the vineyard that measure temperature, dew point, humidity, wind speed, and moisture in the soil at various depths. This tells you what kind of pressures you are under.” One cutting edge technology they employ involves placing a QR Code on the back label. They were one of the first wineries in Italy to use this technology. All you have to do is point the camera of your smart phone at the QR code and it automatically directs you to a complete description of this specific wine.
However, the description never tells the whole story. “We only use indigenous grapes because we believe that is a true representation of our history, in a glass.” Zaccheo says, “You need to feel like you are in Greve in Chianti sitting in the main square with a glass of wine.”
I have hopes to visit Greve in Chianti sometime soon but meanwhile I’ll plan on taking a vacation in a glass of Carpineto wine. Three of the past four vintages of their Vino Nobile have hit Wine Spectators’ top 100 wine list and the price remains stable at about $31.00. All of Carpineto wine are modestly priced because of Antonio Zaccheo’s commitment to keeping high quality wine affordable. To learn more, visit them online at Carpineto.com. Salute!
Love Italian wine and want to learn more? Check out the May/June issue of mvm, in which Steven Goddu will profile Marilisa Allegrini, whose family has been making wine in Italy’s Valpolicella region since the 16th century.