The history of Montefioralle
Monteficalle, or Monteficalli, as the village of Montefioralle was originally called, was probably founded by a group of monks in the 10th century, but the first historical documents, in which the village is mentioned, date back to the 11th century.
The families of the Ricasoli, Benci and Gherardini exercised pre-eminent influence on the village in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In the 14th century Monteficalle was fortified with a circle of walls that still mark its external perimeter today. The fortification was equipped with four entrance doors, one for each cardinal point, still preserved today with their access paths. During the frequent raids by armed marauders, present in the Chianti area at that time, the people of the surrounding countryside could find refuge inside the fortification.
The Vespucci family also owned a house in the village; tradition has it that Amerigo, the explorer of the New World, had lived in this residence.
The village had its own civic administration and a hospital managed by the florentine Confraternita del Bigallo. It was in the eighteenth century that the village took its current name, when a provision of the Grand Duke of Tuscany changed it, without specifying reasons, to "Montefioralle".
Half an mile away from the village is the ancient parish church of San Cresci in Terano.
The parish church is of Romanesque age, while the interior was renovated in the 19th century; it has a beautiful facade with a loggia portico and a typical bell tower. Certainly coeval with the village, the church has carried out religious coordination over the centuries which has involved its inhabitants, together with four other neighbouring churches including the church of Santo Stefano a Montefioralle.
In Montefioralle, in addition to agriculture, various artisanal activities have followed over time such as the production of knives, the breeding of silkworms, the reproduction of antique-style jewelry and embroidery.
Montefioralle currently has a hundred inhabitants and is included in the register of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
The climate of Montefioralle
The valley of the Greve river originates in the Chianti mountains and extends in an approximate direction North West-South East, flanked on both sides by hills.
The Montefioralle side is the one on the orographic left of the river with a mainly eastern exposure and an altitude ranging from the 200 meters above sea level of the Greve riverbed and the 540 meters above sea level of Passo Testalepre.
The climate in this valley, although it changes a lot from place to place depending on altitude and morphology, is generally temperate, with an average annual rainfall of 838 mm. The exposure to the east, in an era characterized by the rise in average temperatures, promotes perfect ripening of the grapes without the risk of skin burns and over ripeness as they are protected from the heat, sometimes scorching, of the afternoon sun. The temperature range between day and night in summer is quite significant and in the harvest period averages around a differential of about 15 degrees, between a daytime maximum around 30 degrees and a night minimum around 15 degrees, thus creating ideal conditions for the ripening of the grapes and for the formation of fundamental components in wine such as terpenes and polyphenols.
The soils of Montefioralle
The two hilly sides of the Greve river valley were formed during the lifting of the earth's crust which also led, in a more macroscopic way, to the formation of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines.
In fact, this series of orogenic "waves" always have the same trend from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Adriatic, so much so that the folds, which later became valleys, which derive from them, including the Greve valley, all have a trend almost parallel to each other.
Apart from the alluvial sediments raised in the first hundred metres from the river bed, the slope of Montefioralle that climbs from the orographic left of the river is characterized by a powerful calcareous formation. Attesting to this are the imposing lime quarries of Passo dei pecorai and their tiny, artisanal lime kilns, that date back to the Middle ages, one of which is still active today.
Limestone-marly, limestone-arenaceous and marly-clayey soils emerge in this area, referable to a series of marine sediments with ages ranging from the Cretaceous to the Eocene (about 130-40 ml of years) and which geologists commonly call "allochthonous layers ".
These rocks began to settle in the open sea environment starting from the Cretaceous period directly on the oceanic crust of magmatic and volcanic submarine origin. This Cretaceous sea must have been further west of the sedimentation basin of the Monti del Chianti, far from important contributions from the continent; initially, a long series of mostly silty and clayey sediments were created which gave rise to the Sillano Formation, with vast outcrops of marl, silts and argillites, a formation that takes its name from San Pietro a Sillano, the ancient parish church located a few kilometers away from the village of Montefioralle.
The Sangiovese of Montefioralle
The main grape variety cultivated in this valley is of course Sangiovese, an obstinate , temperamental grape, difficult to tame : Sangiovese requires constant attention both in the vineyard and in the cellar and on the Montefioralle side, characterized by a predominantly eastern exposure and by a highly calcareous soil, it produces gentle and fragrant wines which hide a strong character, a quality necessary to face the passing of time and seasons with grace and elegance.
The Chianti Classico Gallo Nero of Montefioralle
Chianti Classico is one of the oldest wine-growing regions in the world and has experienced an enormous growth in quality for the last twenty years. To support this growth, the 350 wineries of Chianti Classico, most of which are family-run, have started a project to study and describe this territory. In this way, some smaller geographic areas have become more evident, to help deepen the theme of the connection between the terroir and the wine produced in it, following the example of other large wine-growing areas such as Barolo and Burgundy.
It is clear that the challenge ahead is going to be very complex and difficult , given the vastness and variety of this area. Just to underline this complexity, in the municipality of Greve in Chianti for example, the largest of the Chianti Classico by extension, the associations of Vintners of Montefioralle, Vintners of Lamole and Vintners of Panzano have already been born.
Chianti Classico is represented by the black rooster, an ancient symbol meaning healing and resurrection, in Etruscan mythology linked to the god Aplu - which, with the corrupt name in Palo, was considered by the farmers of the past to be the guardian spirit of the fields. The rooster would have reappeared as an emblem of the Chianti League established by the Republic of Florence, who divided its territory into political-administrative units called, in fact, leagues and the adoption of this symbol linked to a legend relating to the Peace of Fonterutoli of 1202 between Florence and Siena. According to the story, the parties agreed to delimit the border at the point where two knights had come from the respective cities leaving after the rooster’s crow. Both contenders went out of their way to obtain all the advantages possible; but while the Sienese fed the chosen bird by believing that it would sing first for contentment, the Florentines kept their black rooster hooded and caged in the sty. The result was that when the Florentine rooster had the headgear removed in the middle of the night, that poor hungry bird remained dazzled by the external glimmers and, believing it was already dawning, started to sing. Therefore, the two riders met at the place called Croce Fiorentina, much closer mileage wise to Siena than to Florence.
Already renowned in the Middle Ages, by the second half of the fifteenth century "the wine of Chianti" had extended its production area to the Val di Greve, a situation institutionalized by the 1716 decree issued by Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici and which legally established the first official viticultural areas of the world. Today, only those who follow the strict parameters contained in the bylaws can dress their bottles with the black rooster, since 1924 a symbol of the Chianti Classico Consortium and herald of one of the most famous wines in the world.