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IL PARADISO DI MANFREDI, MONTALCINO, Toscana – Biodynamic
Il Paradiso di Manfredi is a tiny estate of 2.5 ha in the heart of Montalcino. In the 50s Manfredi worked for the famous
Biondi Santi estate. In 1958 he bought Il Paradiso di Manfredi where there were more olive trees than vines and indeed in
that period in Montalcino the olive oil production was higher than the wine production.
Initially they were harvesting around10000 kg of olives each year but at the beginning of the 60’s a big freeze destroyed
all the olive trees and Manfredi decided to replant everything with vines.
In 1982 Manfredi died, and Florio, Manfred’s son in law, decided to work on the estate full time.
Florio had always been passionate about wine and helped Manfredi, but his main job hitherto had been as a maths
Il Paradiso di Manfredi today is one of the best expressions of traditional Brunello di Montalcino. Viticulture and vineyard
rhythm is effectively biodynamic. Pesticides and weedkillers are eschewed, the waxing and waning of the moon determines
activity in the vineyard and the winery. They hand-pick the grapes (yields are around 42hl/ha) ,the wild ferment takes
place in concrete vats (no temperature control… ) after which the wine spends 36/40 months in big casks of Slavonia oak
(25/ /30 hl ). By law a Brunello di Montalcino may be ready for the market in January five years after the harvest … for
Florio a Brunello is ready when… it is ready. Truly a Grolsch moment. For example, they are now releasing together 2002
and 2000 vintages and bottling the prized 2001 vintage just for us, because we are the sort of impatient school kids who
just can’t wait for a good thing. Florio also produces a Rosso di Montalcino from the same vineyard… the only difference
between the two wines is the period that it spends in wood (usually ten to twelve months).
The wines are everything you hope for great Sangiovese displaying wicked wild cherry fruit along with notes of herbs,
leather, liquorice, pepper and spice and nascent prune, tar and tobacco aromas. It’s so savoury that the food you are
thinking of cooks and present itself at the table.
ROSSO DI MONTALCINO
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO – magnum
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO RISERVA
thunder, yet each grape containeth within itself a measure of joy and dancing, the quick merry blood of the earth.
red. The master of the vineyard, he goeth about the streets in the last of the sun, bargaining as such as sit idle against the
wall and them that throw dice in the dust. For the grape harvest must be ingathered.
he had endured a terrible battle, himself scatheless. And still more and more grapes are brought to the press where he
laboureth, this hero.
death. Put thy ear against the vat, thou hearest a ceaseless murmur, a slow full suspiration. The juice is clothing itself in
sound, in song, in psalmody.
From A Treading of Grapes – George MacKay Brown
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Sir John Harington
PIAN DELL’ORINO, CAROLINE POBITZER & JAN HENDRIK ERBACH, MONTALCINO, Toscana –
This estate is adjacent to the Biondi Santi property and the area has a long history of being particularly suited for
growing grapes for high quality wines. “Our love for Tuscany and passion for viticulture binds us particularly to this
land, our vines and the resulting wines”. The wines come from four different vineyards that add up to a total area of six
Right from the beginning Caroline and Jan studied the soil and the structure of each vineyard in order to fully understand
its characteristics. Fossils, petrified shells and chalk sediment all testify to the earth’s
evolutions and recount marine
flooding and periods of drought in the area.
To preserve the special identity of their vineyards they assiduously follow organic practises. Farming is only organic if it
respects and protects the complex correlations and the equilibrium of a habitat. From the start the goal is to create and
sustain the maximum harmony possible between vineyard, climate, soil and mankind. They encapsulate their philosophy
thus: “Energy has great importance in the organisation of our daily work. In particular the phases of the moon – which
affect nature and the life of all creatures, regulate growth and reinforce quality – are an important point of reference on
our decision making.
Our vines have never been treated with herbicides, chemical pesticides, insecticides or soluble
mineral fertilisers. Their immune system is reinforced by special infusions that we make with nettles, equisetum and
yarrow and biodynamic preparations. We use propolis to protect the vine from infections caused by fungi and bacteria.
We plant many kinds of grasses, including aromatic varieties, in order to encourage biodiversity, maintain the contents of
the humus and improve the soil structure. In our vineyards bees and butterflies have an infinite choice of beautiful
“Our goal is to fully understand the diverse
characteristics of the vineyards that we cultivate. To this end we separate the
grapes picked from each vineyard during the vinification in order to make separate wines. The work we do in the
vineyards is an important way of getting to know the vines themselves at close hand. “Our shared mother is the land that
nourishes us, and together we grow with what she offers” (Béla Hamvas).
“We are very attached to the land on which our vineyards grow. The soil itself gives us strength and
inspires us to respect
nature and the environment. The grapes are pruned between flowering and their changing colour, leaving no more than
bunches per vine. Before the harvest, the grapes are controlled once again on the vine in order to eliminate any
single grape that is mouldy due to meteorological conditions or imperfect in any way. This same control is repeated
throughout the harvest.”
Bravo, you may say and you would be correct. The mature and carefully selected grapes are picked by hand and taken to
the cellar in crates that contain only twenty kilos each. The final selection takes place on a large table, before the grapes
are placed in the de-stemmer and, at last, into the barrels for vinification.
The fermentation at Pian dell’Orino is induced by naturally occurring yeasts from the grape skins. Spontaneous
fermentation starts between one and three days from the harvest, depending on the vintage. No extra yeasts, no industrial
enzymes or further additives are used.
Brunello di Montalcino
is made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso. Before harvest, the
individually checked on
the vines and cluster thinning is done. During harvest, the grapes are checked once more on a large table before being
destalked and placed in the fermentation bins. Then the grapes are left to macerate for a certain period, according to the
vintage. Spontaneous fermentation starts and the temperature is automatically controlled so that it does not exceed 34°C.
The must macerates for three to five weeks, depending on the vintage, in order to obtain greater concentration and
structure in the young wine.
The wine is then transferred to wooden oak barrels of 25 hectolitres where the malolactic
fermentation takes effect. After 2 – 3 years of maturing in the barrels, when the wine becomes stabilized and appears
brilliant, it is bottled without filtration. The wine is left to mature in the bottle for at least one year before labelling and
release. The Rosso di
Montalcino is made from pure Sangiovese. The grapes are selected in the same way as for the
Brunello di Montalcino. The difference is found in the wine-making. Spontaneous fermentation starts after one or two
days of maceration. The temperature is automatically controlled so that it does not exceed 30°C. The must macerates for
two or three weeks, depending on the vintage, in order to obtain mainly fruity flavours and finesse. Once fermentation has
concluded, the wine is transferred to barriques and small 500-litre barrels, where the malolactic fermentation takes place.
ROSSO DI MONTALCINO
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO
BRUNELLO BASSOLINO DI SOPRA
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Assumptions like bigger is better; you can’t stop progress; no speed is too fast; globalization is good. Then we have to replace them with
some different assumptions: small is beautiful; roots and traditions are worth preserving; variety is the spice of life; the only work worth
doing is meaningful work; biodiversity is the necessary pre-condition for human survival.
MONTEVERTINE, MARTINO MANETTI, RADDA IN CHIANTI, Toscana
Montevertine is a small Chianti estate of eleven hectares, first planted in 1967 by Sergio Manetti assisted by legendary
oenologist Giulio Gambelli.
By 1981 Manetti was finding the DOC Chianti too restrictive (producers were not allowed to use 100% Sangiovese and
were required to blend in white grape varieties), so he decided instead to produce a premium Tuscan wine that he hoped
would convey the terroir of his site, particularly with Sangiovese. Thus he withdrew from the Chianti Consorzio, and Le
Pergole Torte Vino da Tavola was born. Today, his son Martino remains committed to developing Montevertine following
his father’s recipe: 100% Sangiovese grapes, harvested late, fermented in cement tanks without temperature control,
macerated on skins for 25 days, then matured in Slavonian oak for 18 months with a further six in French allier barriques.
Eric Asimov, the wine critic for the New York Times, wrote the following about Montevertine and it’s a sentiment we share
completely: “Sometimes I fall in love with a producer from the moment I first taste his wine. I know, I sound gullible. But
really, if you can sense a purity, a commitment, and of course deliciousness and complexity, why hold back?”
Le Pergole Torte is a profound soliloquy for Sangiovese. Named after the tiny 2-hectare vineyard from which it comes, Le
Pergole Torte has one of the coolest microclimates in the region, giving the wine a shivering energy, a precision to balance
the wine’s obvious power. Le Pergole Torte is only made in top vintages; it is always 100% Sangiovese. If there is truly
tremendous clarity to the wine, an articulation of nuance – dark berry fruit, dried cherry notes, smoke, gravel – make no
mistake, Le Pergole Torte is meant to age.
But it’s worth going a bit more into the philosophy of the Manettis. Although Sangiovese has been Tuscany’s most famous
variety for many centuries it hasn’t always been accorded due respect. Chianti especially has had a roller coaster-ride of a
century, from the insipid, watery “pizza wines” of thirty years ago to a preponderance of rather un-Sangiovese-like wines,
anonymous and forgettable all at the same time. Although there are many great producers honouring the region with their
wines, there have simply been too many Chiantis, blended into oblivion with heavy doses of Cabernet (or Syrah or
whatever) and then lavished with new oak in a misguided effort to polish Sangiovese’s true character.
Le Pergole Torte is one of those rare wines that sparkles with incredible charm. It is authentic and one of the gems of
Tuscany – a landscape that is not without its share of treasures.
The complex fruit of slightly bitter red cherry dominates the wine in its youth. It is gentle, silky, and seductive with a hint of
grainy tannins to flesh out its finish. But, it also has an ethereal bouquet of crushed red cherries and the wild scent of
“sotto bosce”, the forest undergrowth with its hints of mushroom and truffle and dried pine needles. There is the masculine
and the feminine, the yin and the yang, of great wine to be found in this rendition which, for all its uniqueness, refers
constantly to the profound traditions of this fine estate that has fought to preserve Sangiovese as the supreme grape of
The Montevertine has a plummy colour and a broad, ruby rim. The nose is soft and approachable, with blackberry and
cherry fruit, though a fine, jammy ripeness. There is a sweet earthiness on the palate of a lovely mouth-filling wine, with a
slightly bloody, baked plum pie quality and a fine juicy mid-palate. There are hints of chocolatey depth before fresh lemon
acidity cuts through, with hints of spices and tobacco.
Pian del Ciampolo is the baby of the stable and could pass for a Piedmontese wine in a certain light.
with great finesse. Really light plum, dried herbs, rose petals, balsam, extremely earthy/dusty and mineral-laden. Beautiful,
lithe cherries and touch of herbs and earth. Good fruit finish with plenty of zing and spine.
PIAN DEL CIAMPOLO
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CANTINE VITTORIO INNOCENTI, MONTEFOLLONICO, Toscana
The estate lies between Montepulciano and Montefollonico and consists of about 32 hectares of which 12 are specialised
vineyards, situated between 330 and 350 metres above sea level on medium-textured clay soils of Pliocene origin. The cellar
buildings, dating back to end of the 13
century, are in the small, well-preserved medieval town of Montefollonico.
The oldest document referring to the wine of Montepulciano dates back to 789: the cleric Arnipert offered the church of San
Silvestro or San Salvatore in Lanciniano, on Mt. Amiata, a portion of land with vineyards on it inside the castle of Policiano.
Later in his “Historical and geographical dictionary of Tuscany” Repetti mentioned a document dating back to 1350 in which
the terms for trade and exportation of Montepulciano wine were established. Records show that since the early Middle Ages
the vineyards of Mons Politianus have produced excellent wines. In the mid-16
century Sante Lancerio, cellarman of Pope
Paul III Farnese, praised Montepulciano “perfect in both winter and summer, aromatic, fleshy, never sour, nor brightly-
coloured, because it is a wine fit for Noblemen” – for the tables of noblemen, although the earliest labels read simply Rosso
Scelto di Montepulciano. Moving on from the Middle Ages to the 17
century, Francesco Redi, renowned doctor and naturalist
but also a poet, thoroughly praised the wine in his dithyrambic ode “Bacchus in Tuscany” (1685) in which Bacchus and
Ariadne extol the finest Tuscan wines. The poem ends: Montepulciano is the king of all wines! The wine continued to be
praised throughout its history and in the 19
century the success of some wineries in important mid-century competitions was
balanced by the severe opinion of His British Majesty’s winemaker at the Vienna exhibition in 1873, when he complained that
the single sample of Montepulciano present was “mediocre enough to raise a few doubts about Redi’s praise”.
When Vino Nobile made its debut as a DOCG in 1983 commentators were equally appalled at the poor quality. Now it is a
more nobile beast worthy of an occasional panegyric. Aged in oak for two years and made from Prugnolo (plummy) Gentile
(the local name for Sangiovese), Canaiolo Nero and Mammolo grapes, the Innocenti version is ruby red in colour tending
towards garnet with age. It is a dense, spicy wine with cinnamon, plums and tea flavours finishing dry and slightly tannic with
a delicate scent of violets. This is a wine with plenty of stuffing – perfect with steak, preferably bistecca alla fiorentina, grilled
with olive oil and salt.
Made from Sangiovese and Canaiolo Toscano grapes with a medium period of maceration, the Chianti is a little (not so little)
belter. With the wines from the Classico region topping ten quid it’s great to find a rustic uncompromising Sangiovese.
Lovely meaty style of wine with flavours of spicy ripe cherries, roasted herbs, leather and liquorice.
Try this with ribollita, a bread-thickened bean and black cabbage soup or pot roast pigeon cooked with sage and spiced
luganega sausage with stir-fried fennel or braised celery.
The Rosso di Montepulciano has plummy warmth and the reassurance of a well-kept barnyard. Notes of saddle leather and
wild rose assail the nose, the palate is sweet, soft and gently spicy, and the finish suggests beeswax on old wood. If you are a
sanitary modernist you’ll run a mile, but if you enjoy a truffle up each nostril this will be your bag of earth.
CHIANTI DEI COLLI SENESI
ROSSO DI MONTEPULCIANO
VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO
VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO RISERVA
AA SAN FERDINANDO, VAL DI CHIANA, Toscana – Organic
San Ferdinando’s estate spreads over 60 hectares in the heart of Tuscany in the area of Val di Chiana noted for its tradition of
oil and wine production. The Grifoni family, inspired by the passion and by the respect for this land, purchased the farm in
1998. The vineyards, at an altitude of 300 metres above sea level, occupy a total area of nine hectares and are planted with
Ciliegiolo, Sangiovese, Pugnitello and Vermentino. Most of the vineyard activities, hoeing included, are rigorously done
by hand, while tractors are used for topping and treatments that follow the principles of supervised pest control. All operations
that are part of the productive cycle of the wine always occur under the supervision of the watchful eye of Simone, who takes
care that the vineyard is treated like a garden, with great respect for the environment and for nature. Weedkillers and
insecticides are completely banned with plants sown in the vineyard rows and, green manures are frequently used.
Podere Gamba is the vineyard name, lying on medium-textured stony clay soils rich in potassium. The blend is Sangiovese and
Pugnitello (85/15), the grapes harvested in mid October normally. Harvest is manual and grapes are sorted, before
destemming and a light crushing. The two grapes are vinified separately in stainless steel tanks at a conga controlled
temperature before being transferred into Allier oak barrels for eight months before being bottled.
With its nose of forest fruit, cherry, liquorice and coffee this is a silky style of Chianti with soft tannins and good juice.
Pugnitello, by the way, is named after an ancient Tuscan grape variety, the word referring to the form of the cluster, which
resembles a small fist (pugno
CHIANTI PODERE GAMBA
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