Panzano is a small hill-top town that is perched on a ledge just south of the town of Greve in Chianti, in the heart of the Chianti Classico zone. It is a very small town, but in the Tuscan wine scene it is a major player.

The slopes immediately to the south of Panzano form a valley that is referred to as the “Conca d’Oro,” (Golden Shell) due to its shape and the quality of the wines that are produced from the vines of these slopes.

The soil, depending on the vineyard in question is predominantly either of the two soils most famous in the Chianti Classico zone; Galestro or Alberese. Galestro is a soil of compacted clay and shale, and Alberese is a limestone-based soil.

Chianti Classico from this valley epitomizes the almost Burgundian elegance that this wine is often capable of, while the Chianti Classico Riserva has a far greater depth of flavor than is typical. Not to be overlooked are the IGT, or “Super-Tuscan” wines from the valley.

The key players here are first and foremost, the Fontodi winery, whose single-vineyard Sangiovese called “Flaccianello della Pieve” has always been a personal favorite of mine. Castello dei Rampolla produces a very reliable Chianti Classico, but is most famous for their IGT wines “Sammarco” and “Vigna d’Alceo.” Fattoria La Massa was a dormant winery until the flamboyant Neapolitan Giampaolo Motta took it over and now produces IGT wines that consistently turn heads. Villa Cafaggio is another reliable producer of both Chianti and IGT wines. There are other producers as well and all are worth investigating. The “Conca d’Oro” is one area of Chianti where provenance truly does matter.