Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Avignonesi of Montepulciano

In 1974 the Falvo brothers, owners of the vineyards in the district of Cortona, took over Avignonesi and refounded it investing greatly in viniculture, selecting the local varieties and introducing classical ones such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir.

Please excuse my rough notes as we were standing in the vineyards as it began to rain....

Avignonesi houses an agricultural school on the property

The winery and vineyards were originally in Montepulciano but the operation was moved in 1889 to Cortona to allow the business to grow.

Currently there are 4 estates planted in the DOCG of Montepulciano and the DOC of Cortona

The Falvo brothers played the primary role in helping elevate Cortona to a DOC in 1998.

Cortona as a DOC allows for a wide variety of different grape to be produced

Vineyards are planted in a spacing method that is called Aberello (meaning small tree, the same formation that roman solders line-up in): there are no wires between the wines as the vines are planted in hexagons. Every 60 degrees there is another tree planted which allows for tight spacing and a good amount of sun exposure. This causes the root systems to go deep into the subsoil. Average spacing is 7000 plants per hectare. Each vine produces only two-three bunches.

Organic farming is employed unless there are serious problems in the vineyards where as chemicals will be used to save fruit.

Students from the Florence Viticulture school come here to study and experiment.

Montipulciano could be divided into 3 main sub zones based primarily on elevation. The higher the elevation the more alluvial soil will be found in the vineyard. The lower the elevation the more clay which holds water.

Avignonesi being on the south side of town tends to have more clay. Corta alla Flora is at a higher elevation.

VIN SANTO (translated to english.....so fucking good!)
In a good year Avignonesi will only produce 1300 375ml of their vin santo!

Most producers age their Vin Santo on mats drying for 2 months. Avignonesi has an historic drying room which they lay out the grapes in and dry the wines for 6 months minimum.

Vin Santo is more about the yeast used than the grapes used.

Vin Santo Grapes are then aged in a hot room inside tiny barriques for 10 yrs! During the aging process about half of all the juice is lost. After the Vin Santo is finished a bottle can be open for an extremely long period of time as the juice is already Oxed.

1990 Vin Santo from Avignonesi received 100 points from the wine spectator which was only the second time a Italian wine had done that at the time.

Heavy mold in the cellar eliminates vinegar bacterias and seals the barrels from the air.

Before you ever produce VNdM you must get the plants from the Italian Government and declare how much you intend to produce

85% Prunolo Gentile
10% Caninolo
5% Malmiolo

I will spare you my tasting notes but


or better said by JOE BEST "A smart man's Petrus"

Ciacci Piccolomini d Aragonia

bistecca florentina....perfect with a Magnum of 1998 Ciacci Brunello Reserva!

In 1985 at the age of 85 yrs old a countess did something unheard off in Italy. She gave her estate in south eastern Montalcino to her commoner groundskeeper Guisppe to care for after she passed away.

By the mid 90's Guisppe had planted his vines and was well on the way to making wine.

Quick Facts:
40 Hects planted in total

31 Sangiovese, Cabernet 3 , Merlot 3, Syrah 3

All harvesting is done by hand into plastic Bins. There are no machines used in harvesting.

The full harvest is completed by 25 people

The harvest typically happens between Sept 15th and October 14th

French and American oak Barriques are used

All Sangiovese is aged in large Slovenian oak casks

All fruit is 100% De stemmed

22 day Cold soak on the skins

Concrete Vats are used for fermentation, advantages of doing this are that this one of the traditional ways, it doesn't impart flavor, as long as there is no room for air the wine will virtually not age wine inside the vats, and its about 100-200 hl ability to "park" wine.

Farming is Organic

Quote of the tour:
"We don't make our wine for the scores. We want elegance, balance, and a sense of the tradition...We are modern traditional"

40 hects of Olive trees and honey production on the estate as well

Monteccuicco DOC is right next to montalcino. The estate is located in both a DOC and a DOCG.

Tasting Notes:
2005 Rosso di Montalcino
Supple, a bit fat for rosso lacking the rustic chianti type acidity. Purity of fruit is killer with lots of dried cherry. The rosso is vineyards are picked before the season starts
A very modern style rosso

Toscano Rosso 4,200 cases produced
lighter, fruitier, easy drinking, good tannin, long grip, short chain tannin. Classic tuscan table wine

2004 Ateo Supertuscan Red 1,100 cases produced
Blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet, and Merlot
Dark center, light edges, a bit of arm pit funk which is nice. Red fruit and dry yeast on the nose.

2002 Ciacci Brunello
Darker than the other brunellos we've seen on the trip. Beautiful know of roses, cranberries, mushroom, and cherries. Approachable for a brunello without lacking intensity. Silky, elegant, balanced with really well integrated oak.

2004 Fabius Sant Antimo Rosso of mostly syrah
The darkest thing we've seen in tuscany. Dark Blue fruit, black fruit, wet moist earth like what is smell like in the middle of a forest in Pacific northwest after a good rain. Graphite, baked blueberry palate. Spice, German chocolate all wrapped in cedar. Thick and awesome. (After transposing these notes I need to go find another bottle of this stuff)

Corte Alla Flora of Montepulciano

Corte Alla Flora is extremely Modern!

The wines are forward, focused, and extremely polished!

From: http://www.corteallaflora.it

"The vines grown “a cordone speronato” and pruned short, the fruit of modern techniques but also of traditional culture, give their best yield here.

This is our idea of quality: 5,200 plants per hectare, thinning out and harvesting by hand, a maximum production of 60 quintals per hectare"

We tasted:

2003 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG RISERVA

Grapes used: Prugnolo Gentile 90%, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon 10%.
Vinification: hand-picked in perforated boxes, destemming, fermentation in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperature (max. 28° C), maceration for 20 days with repeated remixing, racked off the lees and pressed gently with pneumatic bladder presses. Malolactic fermentation in tanks at 20° C, transferred into barrels.
Alcohol content: 13.5% vol.
Refining/maturing: 24 months in Allier barriques, then 12 months in bottle.

2004 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG

Grapes used: Prugnolo Gentile 90%, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon 10%.
Vinification: hand-picked in perforated boxes, destemming, fermentation in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperature (max. 28° C), maceration for 20 days with repeated remixing, racked off the lees and pressed gently with pneumatic bladder presses. Malolactic fermentation in tanks at 20° C, transferred into barrels.
Alcohol content: 13.5% vol.
Refining/maturing: 18 months in Allier oak cacks, then 10 months in bottle.

Corte alla Flora - Rosso Toscano IGT Super Tuscan

Extremely new world!
Grapes used: Cabernet Sauvignon 50%, Merlot 30%, Prugnolo Gentile 20%.
Vinification: hand-picked with selection of the grapes, destemming, fermentation in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperature (max 28°C), maceration from 15 (Prugnolo Gentile) to 30 days (Cabernet Sauvignon), racked off the lees and pressed gently. The wine is made just by the grapes of the first phase of the wine-making. Malolactic fermentation in tanks.
Alcohol content: 14% vol.
Refining/maturing: 12 months in Allier barriques, then 12 months in bottle.

Giuggiolo - Red Wine IGT Toscana

Grapes used: Prugnolo Gentile 100%.
Vinification: hand-picked in perforated boxes, destemming, fermentation in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperature (max. 28° C), maceration for 10 days with repeated remixing, racked off the lees and pressed gently with pneumatic bladder presses. Malolactic fermentation in tanks at 20° C, transferred into oak casks.
Refining/maturing: 6 months in oak casks, then 6 months in bottle.

Giuggiolo - Bianco di Toscana IGT 2004

Technical card

Grapes used: Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Light, Fresh, and Fruity


Crete- where the top soil in vineyards has washed away leaving bald spots where vines can't grow.

Owner of Carmigliano and Joe Best

Calanco- the red soil and rock that is typical of the area

Southwest facing vineyard soaking up the sun

Pete M is 7 '6 to give you perspective of this barrel

Campo al Mori

A Village Winery

Located in the South Western side of Montalcino

The village was established in the 1100's

Currently around 32 people live in the village

1957 Carmigliano was purchased by the current owners
Quote of the Tour- "Robert Parker doesn't like me"-owner of Carmigliano

Changes in the cellar over time have moved from producing all wines in Slovenian oak to larger french oak barrels made by Gamba.

Rosso di Montalcino
All grapes are farmed to the standards of Brunello. When the grapes arrive in the cellar it is determined which wine they will end up in
Rosso di montalcinos only see about 6 months in oak

Tasting Notes-
03 Brunello Barrel sample
Concentrated with dark color. Classic nose of earth, dusty cherries, and anise. Fatter on the palate with vibrant acidity and lots of primary fruits. New world brunello in the best way.

04 Brunello Barrel sample- 'like judging a mans life at the age of 8"
Beautiful, fresh, espresso and red fruit. This is going to be a keep.

Cabernet Sauvignon Sant Antimo DOC 600 cases produced
Dark Fruit, rich texture, soft, easy drinking. California cab in a Italian leather jacket. A bit more soul and earth and only framed in light french oak.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Dinner and a winery tour with Rosealba Vitanza........

It's what I imagine entering the bat cave to be like. What looks like a very small guest house contains an elevator that brings you 80 meters under the hill to the completely high-tech winery.

She toured us through the cellar and allowed us to pick up some young and old vintages! The wines were all beautiful but the 2001 was really standing out as remarkable.

We tried Brunellos from 1997, 1998, 2001, 2001 Reserva and 2003.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Montalcino the Town



Check out the coolest wine show on the plant

Casanova di Neri

Facts shared by our tour improve guide:

Quote of the Tour: "Our wines are made in the vineyard"

After World War II Montalcino became one of the poorest places in all of Italy. By the 1970's 60% of the locals had left the area due to extreme poverty. "

In 1971 Giocomo Neri's father established Casanova di Neri. Owning over 380 hectares of land the Neri family only cultivates about 50 hectares of grapes!

Vineyards were planted in the 70's and early 80's using extremely wide spacing with the hope of producing a high quantity of fruit. Since the tighter spacing has been implemented the focus has shifted towards concentrated, complex, and extremely high quality wines.

In 1978 Casanova di Neri bottled there first estate wine.

All Casanova di Neri vineyards are using organics and the cellar is build on a hillside to allow for a beautiful Gravity Flow winery built into a north slope. "we wouldn't plant vines there anyway"

Wild Yeast Fermentation is used when possible.

Grapes are trained lower to the ground to avoid frost in the early spring and late fall.

Cerroalto Vineyard:
Soil is alluvial gravel with extremely good drainage
Plant density is around 7000 plants per hectare
Always dry farmed as all Brunello is by Law
The water table has been measured at over 3000meters below the service!

Don't Forget! Casanova di Neri has a guest house! Max four people a night at 35 Euro per person/per night

2005 Rosso di Montalcino
The rosso is selected in the vineyard before the season is ever started. The yields are typically 40% higher than the Brunello. TN; Right red color, pure red fruit nose. Classic approachable rosso style. Tart dried cherry and acidity that could cut your tongue in half. Like really pure Chianti with chest hair.

2003 Tenuta Nuova Brunello di Montalcino
In mid may of '03 the temperature reached 103 degrees in the middle of the day a few times!
Leaning towards the red/purple colors. Dark rich fruit on the nose. This needs time to settle down. Ripe prune, raisin, chocolate on the know. Ripe and rich while retaining balance! Well made!

2000 Ceralalto Vineyard (single vineyard east of montalcino) Brunello
Dark Center with lightly browning edges. More complex nose with loads of white flowers and dark fruits. Blue berry and Raisin. Much more elegant. Long fine tannin with an extremely long finish

2004 Pietradonice Super tuscan 18 months in Oak
90% Cabernet 10% Sangiovese
Tannin and Oak wrapped fruit on the nose. Balanced while being broad on the palate. This wine is a sleeper! Chocolate, Vanilla, espresso. Napa cab in high heals. Only regulation of this DOC is that the grapes come from the Montalcino Area.

Our Second Stop Casanova Di Neri

Casanova Di Neri is GravityFlow!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007