Chiara Condello is a young winemaker located in the town of Predappio in Emilia-Romagna, specifically Romagna. Emilia and Romagna are lumped together into a broader administrative region, but from the fall of the Roman Empire until the unification of Italy, they had always been separate in history, culture, and dialect.
Chiara owns seven hectares of land, 4.8 of which are planted to Sangiovese, and the rest are split between woods and olive trees. Her family also makes wine in Predappio under their own label called Condè, but Chiara works in her own way, with her own vineyards and own cellar. Her first vintage was 2015, and in short time she’s combined her bright-eyed enthusiasm with a clear vision of what her Sangiovese should be.
Romagna is no stranger to Sangiovese; many ampelographers believe it originates here and not in Tuscany. Predappio is one of twelve villages that give their names to Sangiovese subzones authorized as of the 2011 vintage. It is located in the foothills of the Apennines, and is characterized by a sedimentary soil called spungone, which is relatively young (three million years old, from the Pliocene epoch). It contains abundant, intact shells of marine life, often quite large, and is chunky and porous, held together by a calcareous sandstone “cement.”
A Romagna Sangiovese with an authorized subzone on the label must be 95% Sangiovese, with lower yields and more stringent aging requirements compared to a regular Romagna Sangiovese. Chiara’s two wines—a ‘normale’ and a Riserva called Le Lucciole—are both 100% Sangiovese and go above and beyond what is required by the appellation. Farming is organic since the beginning, making use of cover crops and the occasional application of horse manure. In the cellar, Chiara draws inspiration from the late Giulio Gambelli, often using open-top fermenters with extended maceration (sometimes with whole clusters), and a preference for aging in large neutral vessels. The results show the nuances and energy that Sangiovese lovers can’t live without!