Il Molino di Grace – The Long Road Forward

Sep 28, 2017

Il Molino di Grace – The Long  Road Forward

The old stone winery too had to be rebuilt and then buffed out with costly tanks, barrels and other imperative cellar gear. Frank Grace kept his check book handy and with a wink and a nod to the nine meter tall stone statue of his patron St. Francis standing in the middle of his vineyard, Frank forged forward. Along the way, Il Molino di Grace acquired organic certification for the family’s vineyards, the culmination of many years of dedicated sustainable and organic farming efforts. Frank and Tim Grace would not have it any other way!

From the beginning, the vision at Il Molino di Grace has been focused on the production of pure and authentic Panzano Chianti based exclusively on 100% Sangiovese grapes. This is a commitment that requires absolute fearlessness and steadfast persistence. The Grace boys are pretty good at both. Time has rewarded them with a growing legacy of superb Il Molino di Grace wines, but it all began with the simple promise that something special could be done under the old stone windmill on the top of the hill in Panzano.

But recognizing potential is just a start. Doing whatever is necessary to fulfill it is the real deal.

While keeping a full checkbook handy is a key part of a good plan, aligning with top talent for vineyard and cellar work is even more critical. Hence Il Molino’s collaboration with maestro Franco Bernabei, the world’s (I kid you not) most talented interpreter of fickle Sangiovese. No one knows more about this fussy grape than Mr. Bernabei, from how and where to plant it to how best to coax its essential flavors and tricky textures from crushed grapes to finished wine. Franco has become an integral member of the Il Molino di Grace team. His grape-stained thumbprint rests firmly atop the estate’s winning style.

So what about the wines, you might be wondering. A lot can be said about Il Molino di Grace Chianti, starting with the fact that regardless of the level they represent from Classico to Reserva to Gran Selezione, they always are made 100% from  fully ripened, hand-harvested Panzano Sangiovese. Panzano grapes require no partners; they have everything they need to make complete Chianti wines that will evolve evocatively over time. Like a pedigree foal in a famous stable, Il Molino Chianti needs time to grow into itself.  As it does, it gets better and better, ultimately shedding its youthful tension and tightness in favor of rich fruit and a plush texture.

Extraction (essentially a wine’s weight and flavor as detected on the palate) is the most vital part of the winemaking process at Il Molino di Grace.

Too much extraction and the wines fall out of balance. Too little and they lack character. Finding the right median is a challenge but an even greater reward. Il Molino meets the former and achieves the later via a carefully controlled three week ferment on the skins accompanied by frequent but soft pumping over (the grape must), followed by a year in oak to compose the wine and another in bottle for it to collect itself. It takes time to make these wines and patience to enjoy them properly, especially Il Molino’s Riserva Chianti and Gran Selezione Il Margone

Here’s a quick rundown on the current Il Molino di Grace range.

Chianti  Classico DOCG: 100% Sangiovese from hand harvested hillside fruit fermented in stainless steel tanks and macerated on skins for 21 days. The wine is aged in a combination of tanks, Slavonian oak barrels, and both French barriques and tonneaux (second year oak) prior to a year of bottle aging.  It captures perfectly the aroma and character of Panzano’s unique terroir. Silky tannins and bright berry fruit highlight this savory wine with a very long finish. It’s a crowd pleaser for sure!

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG: 100% Sangiovese from select hillside vineyards fermented on the skins for 21 days, then aged for eleven months in Slavonian oak barrels, French oak barriques and tonneaux before a minimum of twelve months in bottle. The finished wine is complex with a subtle, spicy bouquet suggesting red fruits, cherry jam, white pepper and fresh earth with a striking mineral note in the background. Full, rich, silky and persistent on the palate, this is a superior example of Chianti Classico Riserva. Grab a glass – quickly!

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione “Il Margone” DOCG: Made from select grapes picked from dedicated Riserva vineyards with an average age of 20 to 30 years. The vineyard’s extra high elevation – up to 1,300 feet above sea level – allows the grapes an extra week of hang time, resulting in greater concentration. The finished wine ages for eleven months in French barrique sand tonneaux and another 36 months in the bottle. Its deep crimson color and rich, spicy bouquet are both amazingly intense. The palate shows great depth and features a velvety texture followed by a long, lingering finish. Like every Gran Selezione should be but few actually are, Il Margin is a total “showstopper.”

Gratius Toscana IGT: 100% Sangiovese, from a single vineyard whose vines range from 55 to 70 years old. The vineyard, situated at 1,300 feet, produces a tiny yield of 1.5 tons per acre. Before release the wine is aged for eleven months in French oak barriques and tonneaux (both new and second year) succeeded by an additional 24 months in bottle. Gratius is the color of deep crimson and has a bouquet that suggests complex notes of ripe black cherries, blackberry jam, chocolate, and tobacco all of which and more is delivered on the palate. It shows richness, com-plexity and exquisite balance. Gratius is a pennant winner for sure!

Il Volano Rosso IGT: A blend of 75% Sangiovese and 25% Merlot made from grapes grown on a nearby hill. The grapes undergo fermentation in stainless steel to maintain essential freshness and fragrance. This is a delicious everyday style of wine with a lot of immediate appeal based on a generous bouquet of cherry fruit and wild flowers and its supple, smooth presence on the pal-ate. No tannins, no kidding!

Chianti Classico 2013
94pts James Suckling

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2014
91pts Wine Spectator

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione

“Il Margone” DOCG 2012
94pts James Suckling

Gratius Toscana IGT 2011
90pts Wine Spectator

Gratius Toscana IGT 2010
92pts Wine Spectator

Il Volano Toscana IGT 2013
91pts Wine Spectator

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