Canalicchio Di Sopra

Tuscany, Italy

In 1962 Primo Pacenti, a lover of the land with a knowledge of its products, founded Azienda Agricola Canalicchio di Sopra. Situated in the northern side of the Municipality of Montalcino and in the middle of the tourist itinerary of val d'orcia, the farm extends for about 60 ha, 15 of which are cultivated with vines and 2 with olive groves.

Three generations live here side by side with the common aim of producing quality wines: the generation of the grandfather, Primo Pacenti, who founded the farm and managed it until the 1990's, as well as participating actively in the social life of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino; that of the father, Pier Luigi Ripaccioli, who with the grandfather has undertaken to increase the quality by proposing careful and meticulous work; that of the grandchildren, Simonetta, Marco and Francesco who joined the management in 2001, bringing with them new ideas and new technologies always in respect of ancient methods and customs.

The vines grow in two of the zones with the highest vine growing and wine making vocations in Montalcino: Canalicchio di Sopra and Le Gode di Montosoli. The different exposure and the geological differences of the soils produce different Sangiovese grapes where balance and power compensate one another in the wine cellar through the patient work which always seeks the best blend of tradition and innovation.

"The best way to understand any wine region is to get on the ground, hike the vineyards, trudge through the soils and watch as the sun rises or sets on the vines. On the day I was scheduled to taste with Francesco Ripaccioli at Canalicchio di Sopra, I trekked for roughly two miles north, down the hill from Montalcino at 5am, when we ran into each other outside of his winery. At that time he was setting up our 9am tasting that spanned from the 1979 Brunello to cask samples of each individual parcel of Sangiovese from the 2019 vintage. It’s that commitment to the job, the passion for the land and for Montalcino, the desire to delve deeply into the science, as well as the romance of wine, that sets Francesco Ripaccioli apart from many others. I returned at the official start of my appointment to find around thirty bottles of wine to go through. This was going to be an education. It’s amazing to think of what Canalicchio di Sopra has accomplished over the years. In the hands of the current generation’s father, the wines were classic and traditional. Francesco Ripaccioli and his siblings brought the purity of fruit and transparent stamp of terroir that the wines were lacking before. Of course, they had all the right ingredients, with choice locations on both the Montosoli hill and within the Canalicchio cru to work with. Since that time, the family has studied each location to break them down into micro-terroirs within the larger parcels. Today, each plot is treated individually in the vineyards and is vinified separately. This allows the winery to design the perfect blend, year after year, to build their estate Brunello and Riserva. It’s also proven that certain parcels deserve their own individual bottling, hence the creation of Vigna La Casaccia, and in the coming years, the cru-designated Montosoli." - Eric Guido for Antonio Galloni's Vinous, Nov/2021

"Francesco Ripaccioli of Canalicchio di Sopra is one of the most passionate and inspired winemakers in Montalcino today, with an eye set not just on his success but on the success of the entire region. Ripaccioli is also a studious winemaker, constantly looking for input from those who taste his wines. Nearly every visit involves going through multiple back vintages, current releases, and components of at least the next three years to come. Spending time with Ripaccioli is always an education. The winery farms northern slope vineyards on both the Montosoli hill and within Canalicchio, which are all broken down into micro-terroirs. Today, each plot is treated individually in the vineyards and is vinified separately as Ripaccioli continues to seek the perfect blending of vintage, location and the hand of the winemaker. All the research on the vines and soils has led Ripaccioli to designate cru bottles, starting with the Vigna La Casaccia, and now with the inaugural release of the Vigna Montosoli. It’s a bold statement to release a new wine in a vintage like 2018 instead of waiting for a more highly praised year. Or maybe, it’s just a bit of genius, because the Vigna Montosoli is easily one of the 2018's top wines and should not be missed. Of course, Ripaccioli has a positive outlook on the vintage, and his logic is hard to argue. In this part of the north, 2018 is viewed as a fresh and rainy year. The timing of the rain was ideal for the vines' vegetative process, including the two weeks of perfectly cool, dry and sunny weather prior to harvest. Ripaccioli will tell you it is a site-transparent vintage (at least in this part of Montalcino), so why not release a brand-new single-vineyard wine?" -  Eric Guido for Antonio Galloni's Vinous, Oct/2022