Tuscan Vintner Sergio Manetti, of Montevertine, Dies

Dec 18, 2000
Sergio Manetti, owner and winemaker of the well-respected Tuscan estate Montevertine, which produces of one of Italy's top wines, Le Pergole Torte, died of cancer on Nov. 14 at his estate in Radda, Chianti. He was 79.

Manetti left his estate to his son, Martino, his twin daughters, Marta and Anna, and his son-in-law, Klaus Reimitz, who has been making wine with Manetti since 1981.

"Sergio taught me all I know about wine," said Reimitz. "Above all he was a friend to me. He not only taught me how to make good wine, he taught me that one needs a lot of patience and money in order to make a good wine. He was a man of culture, who knew how to live life to its fullest."

Reimitz and Martino Manetti will now be in charge of running Montevertine, along with Manetti's enologist and close friend, Giulio Gambelli, who has been with Montevertine since Manetti started making wine in 1971.

"We will continue to work along the lines of Sergio's philosophy," said Reimitz, "continuing to make a top-quality pure Sangiovese wine."

Manetti was born and raised in Milan. At the age of 20, he moved to Tuscany in order to take over his father's steel business, in Poggibonsi. Manetti later sold the business in the mid-1960s, before the European steel crisis. In 1968, he bought Montevertine, which consisted of an abandoned farmhouse and 100 acres of land -- "the property of his dreams," said Reimitz.

Together with farmhand Bruno Bini, who lived on the property, Manetti started by planting 10 acres of vineyards, which has since been increased to 24 acres. Giulio Gambelli joined Manetti in 1971, and later that year, they made Montevertine's first Chianti Classico. In 1975, Manetti brought out his first Chianti Classico Riserva.

Le Pergole Torte, a super Tuscan made from 100 percent Sangiovese, debuted in 1977. In an effort to give new life to the region's traditional grape varieties, Manetti distanced himself from the then-ailing Chianti Classico appellation, choosing instead to label his wine with the basic vino da tavola designation. (Le Pergole Torte, along with most super Tuscans, now carries the newer IGT designation.)

Montevertine's other wines include Il Sodaccio, Montevertine Riserva and Pian del Ciampolo. However, Le Pergole Torte, of which 5,000 cases are made annually, remains Manetti's prize wine.

Manetti helped to improve Italy's image as a producer of prestigious wines. "He was a man of great sensibility, who absolutely believed in the greatness of the Sangiovese grape; in fact, his winemaking reflects this," said fellow Tuscan vintner Leonardo Frescobaldi, president of Marchesi de' Frescobaldi. "Manetti was a crucial figure who played a prominent and well-deserved part in re-evaluating Italian wine."

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Check our recent ratings of Montevertine wines.

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