2013 Poggerino "Millesimo" Vino Spumante Rosé Pas Dosé ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle
2013 Poggerino "Millesimo" Vino Spumante Rosé Pas Dosé ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

Poggerino’s Stunning Sparkling Sangiovese

400 Words (Or So) on the Potential for Bubbly Greatness in Chianti Classico

4 min read

“I might make only sparkling wine someday,” Piero Lanza said with a faint smile as he poured an opening salvo for a tasting that would — in the end — rank as one of the best of my career. The comment surprised me, because Piero is widely hailed as one of Chianti Classico’s most esteemed winemakers. Sparkling? Ok. Was he joking?

No, he was not. His 2013 “Millesimo” Vino Spumante Rosé is as serious as any sparkling wine I’ve tasted in recent memory, including anything from Champagne that’s passed my palate. If the carnation orange color acts like an invitation, then the aromas surely were a full-on beckoning. Bright cherries, sour oranges, roses, almonds and sea spray all seemed to rise from its depths, lending the wine an instantaneously recognizable profile. This is not some imposter of the Chardonnay-Pinot Noir ilk. This is Sangiovese doing what Sangiovese does best — a cherry-citrus-savory trifecta — while playing a bubbly role I didn’t realize it could.

Winemaker Piero Lanza in his steeply pitched Sangiovese vineyard beneath the hilltop town of Radda. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle
Winemaker Piero Lanza. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

All of this, by the way, was imprinted on me before the wine passed my lips.

Lanza told me that sparkling wine has been an obsession of his for more than 10 years now. His first vintage was only in 2010, and since the wine spends an astonishingly long seven years on the lees, there aren’t many examples of his work just yet. But those seven years offer an exceedingly fine texture. The bubbles do their job but leave plenty of elbow room for the flavors and richness to show off, too.

To achieve these results, Lanza usually harvests in late August right when veraison is finished. “Of course, the grape is not ripe enough to produce a red wine,” he told me. “But at that stage the juice is very aromatic.” He presses the grapes but allows for no skin contact at all (the color seeps in anyway), and then in the spring he bottles it with sugar for its second fermentation and long, long maturation. “It is a pas dosé,” he continued. “When I do the disgorgement, I refill the bottle with the same wine. No more sugar.”

Here is the issue: there is not much of it. Only 1,275 bottles per year are produced, but if you can locate one, you are in for a magical experience.

2013 Poggerino “Millesimo” Vino Spumante Rosé Pas Dosé

2013 Poggerino "Millesimo" Vino Spumante Rosé Pas Dosé ©Kevin Day/Opening a BottleToscana IGT (Tuscany)
Grapes: Sangiovese (100%)
Alcohol: 13%
Opinion: ★★★★★ (out of five)
Food-friendliness: Impeccable
Value: Very Good


A beginner might like … toying with different food pairings for this sparkling wine. Sangiovese has a rather wild character when it is allowed to express itself, and that still shows in this wine despite the lack of maceration and tannin. Take advantage of its inherent savory quality and swing for the fences in the kitchen: Ragu on pasta? Fried oysters? Satay? As long as there isn’t too much spice, you can go almost anywhere with this wine.

A wine obsessive might like … the gravitas. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, there was a conceit that only Burgundy and Bordeaux varieties could make serious wine. A remnant of that way of thinking remains with sparkling wine, that only Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier can deliver an impactful, complex, age-worthy bubbly. This is partly due to the technical skill, intensive labor and long waiting required of traditional method sparkling wine, so we really haven’t found out in many cases whether other grapes — such as Sangiovese — can get it done. Lanza has done that work for us. This wine has tremendous impact.

Essential Chianti Classico

Essential Winemakers of Italy ©Opening a BottlePiero Lanza and Poggerino is a cut above. His Chianti Classico, “Bugialla” Chianti Classico Riserva, and newest experiment — a Chianti Classico that spends ample time in a concrete egg — are all examples of impressive skill.

For notes on these wines, paying subscribers can visit Poggerino’s new Essential Winemakers of Italy page.

See all Essential Winemakers of Italy

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