Category Archives: A WINE ESTATE UNVEILED

THE MASSETO WINERY UNVEILED

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An architectural masterpiece quarried from the blue clay

 

Carved deep into the ancient blue clay that underpins the vineyard, the Masseto winery is a physical and symbolic tribute to the Estate’s history and rapid evolution from intuition about the hidden potential of a vineyard site, to internationally acclaimed wine.

‘The Winery is a tribute to the past, present and future of Masseto. It celebrates the incredible story of a wine that was never meant to exist,’ said Masseto CEO, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja. ‘Years of planning and effort have been dedicated to building the right home for Masseto. One that consolidates three decades of experience, where every aspect has been designed to meet the winemaking team’s highly detailed requirements.

Technical facilities in the subterranean building, reminiscent of a sacred temple, have been stripped back to low-impact basics. ‘Nothing is missing, and there is no more than necessary,’ said Masseto Estate Director, Axel Heinz. He stressed that winemaking at Masseto, which balances austerity, modernity and tradition, will remain unchanged. ‘Our wine making is about reducing the process, reducing intervention, with a ‘less is more’ philosophy.’

Designed by architects Hikaru Mori and Maurizio Zito of the ZitoMori Studio, the building represents and reinforces Masseto’s discreet but powerful identity. Above ground, only the low lines of the grape reception area and the restored Masseto House emerge from the hill.

Built to incorporate a gravity flow winemaking process, and benefiting from the blue clay’s natural insulation, the structure is symbiotic with the hills and vineyard that surround it. The architects called their underground design concept, The Quarry. ‘To represent the effort required to produce the wine made here, we created a series of spaces – not by construction, but by extraction from the hill’s monolithic mass. The diverse internal volumes, heights and levels are reminiscent of a gold mine as it follows seams of precious metal to the core,’ said Japanese-born architect Hikaru Mori.

Cast-in-place concrete was used for the winery’s architectural framework. Inside, clean lines of glass and steel predominate, balanced by rows of oak barrels. Textured and scored surfaces throughout are a reminder of the extractive construction process, while openings in the walls frame vertical profiles of the vineyard’s inimitable blue clay terroir.

At the very heart of the structure lies the Estate’s wine vault, Masseto Caveau. Bottles of every vintage since 1986 are preserved here, in perfect cellaring conditions, each suspended in its own stainless-steel mesh cradle. There could be no better physical manifestation of the Estate’s history.

The 2018 vintage is the first to be vinified in the Winery, by recently appointed cellar master, Eleonora Marconi.

Masseto, located on the Tuscan coast close to the small village of Bolgheri, is a wine that was never meant to exist. The potential of the slope where the vineyard now sits was finally seen in the 1980’s, when, against all odds, advice and local tradition, the first vines were planted. Intuition paid off. The blue clay, cooling coastal breezes and abundant refracted light from the Tyrrhenian Sea all contribute to Masseto’s intriguing combination of power, elegance and complexity. Masseto has received international acclaim since its birth in 1986. The Estate is controlled by the Frescobaldi Family Group.

 

 

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The Maremma yields a jewel called Le Pupille

Elisabetta Geppetti’s trail-blazing idea of producing a great Syrah in Tuscany’s coastal Maremma area began to take shape as early as the year 2000, when she planted two vineyards to that noble variety at Fattoria Le Pupille. Years of quality selection in the vineyards followed, then vinifications from 2012 on, all of which amply confirmed that the path she had chosen was correct. The final fruit was Le Pupille, a wine that embodied a yet-unexplored aspect of the Maremma’s winemaking potential and expressed at the same time the elegance and fascination of two women intimately linked to each other. Elisabetta Geppetti has been joined, since 2011, by her daughter Clara Gentili, who displays the very same level of passion and, it would seem, far-sightedness as her mother.

A four-handed accomplishment_Le Pupille was also the result of innovative winemaking practices. “My mother and I decided, together with winemaking consultant Luca D’Attoma,” explains Clara, “to vinify each of the two vineyards differently, the grapes from one in large oak tonneaux, the others in large terracotta jars hand-made in Tuscany.” 

“It was all quite an emotional project,” added Elizabeth, “and one that our entire family embraced, since, as we love to tell, we all personally destemmed the grapes by hand after the harvest.” And that 2015 harvest yielded wonderful fruit in the two vineyards that unite to produce Le Pupille.    

The Vigna del Palo and fermentation in tonneaux_Planted in 2000, this 1.5-hectare vineyard faces east, which allows the grapes to benefit from the less-intense morning light and to avoid the impact of the hotter hours of the day. Thanks to a rather light leaf-thinning during the 2015 season, cluster development was gradual and consistent, and at harvest-time, in the last week of August, the grapes were sweet and aroma-rich, with fairly refined tannins. A 25-day fermentation followed, in open-topped 500-litre oak tonneaux, with careful punch-downs twice a day to maximise aroma extraction, then the wine macerated on the skins an additional 25 days.       

The Vigna di Pian di Fiora and fermentation in jars_This small vineyard, barely half a hectare, was planted in 2002. Its particularly cool, dry climate was further accentuated in 2015 by breezes along the valley floor, and the result was a pronounced florality and dense tannins in the grapes. Fermentation in 500-litre terracotta jars preserved varietal fidelity and heightened the grapes’ floral notes. Fermentation began spontaneously, but it was carefully controlled, and the subsequent maceration continued for some eight months, until May 2016, when the wine was finally drawn off and racked at low temperature.     

 

The final blend of the separately-fermented lots matured in new 300-litre French oak barrels for some 10 months, was bottled in March 2017, then received a further 22 months’ bottle-ageing.  

The result of this refined process is a Le Pupille of pronounced crispness and elegance, with an intriguing stylistic link to its trans-Alpine cousin. Its complex bouquet boasts wild black berryfruit, spice, and a subtle toastiness. Le Pupille 2015 was produced in a limited edition of 3,000 750ml bottles.    

Castello di Querceto 120 years history of wine

Entering Castello di Querceto, one’s gaze is immediately caught by a late 18th-century photo of some François family’s ancestors. The images are a bit time-scarred, but those piercing eyes, even 120 years on, leave no doubt about the reasons why this family, still today owners of this wine estate, has become one of the leading lights in Chianti Classico, driven by their desire to offer wine-lovers authentic expressions of classic Tuscan grape varieties.    

Starting in the early 1900s, with their first all-Sangiovese vineyards, through 1924, when they and a select group of 32 other producers founded Consorzio del Vino Chianti Classico, and right up to the present moment, Castello di Querceto has always, through its wines, spoken to the world in an intensely family and personal fashion.   

The interpretation of the cru vineyards and the identification of grape selections that best represent the estate have always been, since the 1970s, Alessandro François’ objectives, and he has succeeded in winning recognition across the globe for Castello di Querceto as one of Chianti Classico’s best-known producers. Today, in fact, 90% of its production is exported to over 50 countries, a marketing achievement of which Alessandro and Antonietta François are justly proud.    

2017 ushers in Castello di Querceto’s commemoration of its 120 years of winemaking, and it is celebrating that milestone by uncorking two of its iconic wines–both obviously monovarietal Sangioveses. The first, La Corte IGT Colli della Toscana Centrale, was the winery’s first cru, and some early-1900s vintages of it are still lying in collectors’ cellars. The second, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Il Picchio, is the quintessential expression of the best vineyards in the south-eastern part of the estate. 

“There will be no special commemorative label for either wine,” states François; “the wines themselves are perfectly capable of recounting our history.” And in fact, these two interpreters of the wine estate’s philosophy prefer to reveal themselves directly in the glass: La Corte through its elegance, its fruit and subtle hint of balsam, Il Picchio with its structure and impressive length, heightened by herbaceous and floral notes and a touch of chocolate.   

Raising a glass of Castello di Querceto is a full-immersion into the history of Chianti Classico. 

 

Venissa, the wine of Venice

(c) Mattia Mionetto

The Venissa Estate lies on Mazzorbo, one of the three islands of Native Venice, an archipelago of nature, colors, flavors, and art that also includes Burano and Torcello.

While accompanying several customers on a trip to Torcello, I noticed an old grapevine in a private garden beside the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. I managed to persuade the owner to send me some of the grapes when they had matured. The crates arrived full of lovely, thick-skinned grapes with a brilliant golden color. It was the famous Dorona, also known as the golden grape, well-loved by the Venetians and served during the banquets of the Doges and then lost to history.” – Gianluca Bisol. Venissa’s story began by chance and resulted in an incredible discovery: some of the very last grapevines in Venice, the final trace of a winegrowing culture that was destroyed by the flood of 1966.

(c) Mattia Mionetto

It is a winemaking story that goes back more than 2000 years to 1100, when vineyards could be found in Piazza San Marco but whose ultimate destiny was to be cut down to make space for the great Venetian palazzos that the world admires today. There were many islands in the Venetian Lagoon where wine was produced until fifty years ago, especially on the islands of Mazzorbo, Burano, and Torcello, otherwise known as Native Venice. The Dorona di Venezia is a native white-skinned variety that adapted well to the high waters and the particular conditions of this unique terroir, and Gianluca Bisol discovered 88 vine plants in 2002 in the gardens and remaining vineyards of Venice.

After the first microvinifications were carried out, Gianluca Bisol and his colleagues decided to replant the variety, which, in the lagoon, produces a nectar that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The ideal location turned out to be the island of Mazzorbo on the Scarpa Volo estate, which had been a walled vineyard and winery for centuries until the great flood of 1966. It is here that the Bisol family decided to replant 4000 vine plants of Dorona (less than 1 hectare) that produces just shy of 4000 bottles per year. Vinification is carried out by Desiderio Bisol and Roberto Cipresso, a renowned enologist with a passion for viticultural history. Cipresso calls for a long maceration on the skins, a practice once used by farmers, to obtain a white wine with the structure and longevity of a red. From the skins, the Venissa wine extracts the flavors and unique aromas typical of this inimitable terroir: notes of salt, honey, wormwood, and white peach.

Venissa has been a pioneer in bringing wine back to the lagoon, whose reputation is quickly spreading among international wine lovers as an ideal and unique place for viticulture. After Venissa came Rosso Venissa, a red wine produced from Merlot and Carmenere from a 50-year-old vineyard located on the island of Santa Cristina.

Both are wines that immediately drew the interest of wine connoisseurs. The first vintage of Rosso Venissa, the 2011 harvest, was awarded 93 points by the prestigious Italian Veronelli guide, while the 2010 vintage of Venissa was named one of the top 100 Italian wines by the highly respected Gatti Massobrio guide.

 

Gamvs MMXXII Dolcetto d’Alba Superiore

Passion for wine, an indissoluble passion for the Mossio family. Valerio and Remo, supported by Michele, their grandson, are personally committed to produce Dolcetto d’Alba, Bricco Caramelli and Piano delli Perdoni; Barbera, Nebbiolo and Langhe Rosso, the result of a happy union between Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto, “Gamvs”, Dolcetto d’Alba Superiore (premium quality) and “Le Margherite”, a passito (dessert) wine.
Mossio – the synonym of a hard working family, whose members on one hand have specific roles and on the other hand are committed towards the same goal: wine quality.

The Langa and Roero wine and food heritage, a knowledge conscious of the passing of time and seasons in autumn, is caused by the bouquet of wine and the flavor of the white truffle of Alba; in spring and summer the cooking innovates with appetizers made with vegetables, meat and the first courses are characterized by “tajarin” (home-made noodles) and “agnolotti del plin” (home-made stuffed pasta)…We don’t leave out the Fassone meat, the cheeses and also the desserts with their unmistakable taste of “Tonda e Gentile” (round and gentle) hazelnut from the Langhe.

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We tasted: Gamus MMXXIII  Dolcetto d’Alba Superiore 2013

The name of this wine is due to the recovery of a white marble slab. The colour is deep ruby red with violet reflections. The nose is intense with hints of plum, blackberry and red fruits on a spicy background. In the mouth is enveloping, soft and full, with a sweet finish but not too much, well balanced with tannins typical of the grape dolcetto. Ideal for dishes with meat game, ham and seasoned cheese.

Barolo la Serra by Bosco Agostino wine estate

The Bosco Agostino farm is run as a family business with one goal: achieve grapes of the maximum quality to be transformed into a wine with personality rendering it special and unique.

The total vined surface area of the farm is currently at about 4 hectares divided between Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto. All vineyards are property of and found exclusively within the confines of the Comune of La Morra.

captureThe company is dedicated to the production of the four wines most characteristic to the area: Barolo, Dolcetto d’Alba, Barbera d’Alba and Langhe Nebbiolo.

We tasted: Barolo la Serra 2011

A historical cru of La Morra. The vineyard faces southeast at an altitude of about 400 meters. The soil is tufaceous (limestone) and calcareous (clay/chalk). The esposition and soil composition endow this wine with both structure and tannins suitable for a long aging. During the aging the wine is held in barriques and tonneaux for about 6-7 months before transfer to botti.

The bouquet will definitly surprise you! It  presents complex aromas of berry marmalade and brandied cherries, with detectable spicey notes. For the food pairing is perfect with red meat, arrosti, wild games and seasoned cheese.

 

Brunello di Montalcino 2011, Tenute Silvio Nardi

Tenute Silvio Nardi, thanks to its expansive size, encompasses a wide variety of aspects and soils. The Nardi vineyards amount to fully 50 hectares planted to Sangiovese for Brunello, one of the largest vineyard holdings in the entire denomination.

The Brunello di Montalcino Silvio Nardi, enfolds two growing areas (Casale del Bosco and Manachiara), two different hillslopes (both the west slope of Montalcino and the east slope), and a multitude of soils, aspects, and elevations, which only the most painstaking mapping can interpret and exploit.  The Manachiara “clear morning” Vineyard continues to be the focus of widespread interest. The southeast exposure affords its vines sunlight right from the earliest morning. The Poggia Doria vineyard receives its share of attention, with its dark, volcanic soil and abundant rock, loved by the vines, since only this plant’s roots can penetrate deep in search of water.

The winemaking process then brings out of the fruit all of the qualities that derive from the vineyard. Multiple fermentation tanks allow separate fermentations for each individual vineyard parcel, keeping the lots separate until the final blend; the lots are kept separate even during the maturation process in small oak barrels and larger casks and  finally, comes the final blending.

brunello-nardiWe tasted: Brunello di Montalcino 2011

“Pure- Noble” Sangiovese wine. A wine for which blending translates to capturing different notes from different terroirs where softness arrives by gentle aging.

A “Pure- Noble” 100% Sangiovese. This wine has intense ruby red colour. The nose is clean, sophisticated, intense and complex AROMAS, rich in evolved overtones, with hints of anise, ripe wild berries and a light touch of vanilla. In the mouth is warm with supple tannins, great structure, good length and considerable aging capacity. Ideal for pasta with wild boar sauce and game meat dishes.

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