The second half of my Italian vacation took me to a lovely vineyard and winery just outside of Volterra, Monte Rosola (www.monterosola.com). The owners, Gottfried and Carmen Schmitt, were most hospitable hosts. When we arrived it was an absolute deluge, so rather than wandering the vineyards we were treated to a spectacular Tuscan lunch while tasting through the Schmitts’ lineup. This included several courses of salumi, bruschetta, fresh bread with some of the Estate Olive Oil, Cinghiale (a traditional dish of wild boar we had the pleasure of trying all over Tuscany) and finished with some delicious cheeses.
What better way to experience these lovely wines? The Schmitts’ property is picturesque; with only 2 hectares of vineyards, their production is small, but the quality exceptional. Located in the heart of Tuscany near Volterra, one of the ancient Etruscan capitals, the estate dates back to the 15th century when it was originally an outpost for the Pignano Castle. Later, it became a cooperative farm specializing in the production of olive oil, wine and grain. Acquired by the Schmitts in 1999 as a ruin on 7.5ha land, they renovated the house and barn, under strict preservation of their original character, and replanted a state of the art olive grove and vineyard. The hills of Volterra rise up from the edges of the property, although they were somewhat obscured by cloud cover on the day of our visit.
After a bit of trial and error, the Schmitts brought on Alberto Antonini, former head winemaker at Antinori – he has a long line of winemaking credits from around the world – coincidentally he is the consulting winemaker for the Allegrini’s Bolgheri project, Poggio al Tesoro (he may just be the wines version of the 6-degrees of Kevin Bacon). Through his meticulous work with the vineyard management team, including having the Schmitts replace all their fermentation equipment (no inexpensive endeavor) the resultant wines are nothing less than amazing.
Here is the lineup and their scores from the Guida D’Oro, I Vini di Veronelli, 2013:
Indomito –a blend of mostly Shiraz then Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon showing ripe red and black fruit with spicy notes showing the clear characteristics of the Shiraz and the firm acid and tannic structure contributed by the Sangiovese and Cabernet, respectively. The wine is aged for 18 months in French oak barrel, giving it soft toasted oak notes on a long, lingering finish. (91 Points, Three Stars)
Corpo Notte – A blend of mostly Sangiovese then Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz – a classic super Tuscan with Morello Cherry, steeped tea and leather, showing purple floral aromatic and a bit of spiced mocha on the finsh. Again, aged in french oak barrels for 18 months which adds to a rich long finish. (89 Points)
Crescendo – 100% Sangiovese aged in oak for 18 months. This wine is rich and velvety with ripe cherry and black raspberry fruit, violet aromas with hints of fennel, cocoa and sweet tobacco. This is a spectacular wine with excellent structure the perfect accompaniment to rich meats, especially the braised wild boar we enjoyed over lunch. (90 Points, Three Stars)
Canto della Civetta – 100% Merlot, this is a truly exemplary wine. The texture is rich and velvety with subtle tannins. The aroma is of desiccated roses and ripe black cherry fruit. While we did not taste this wine during our visit – I had the pleasure of tasting this extraordinary wine with the local importer from Piano Piano, Dean Cogliati, and was so impressed I bought all that was brought into the state. This is a wine not to be missed
The following day we visited Il Poggione (www.tenutailpoggione.it) just outside of Montalcino in Sant’Angelo in Colle, the property is an agroturismo with a working farm, hotel flats, vineyards and winery. The estate began in the late 19th century – today the estate houses a state of the art facility supporting research and development in conjunction with the national universities all the while maintaining the traditions that built the reputation of Brunello. We were greeted early in the afternoon by Alessandro Bindocci, a young man whose family is as steeped in the history of Il Poggione as its creators, the Fransechi’s. Alessando was a wonderful host who is working as winemaker, following the traditions of his father, who is also a winemaker with Il Poggione. The new state of the art fermenters were uniquely designed in-house; the grapes are hand harvested and the wine is made in a traditional style using the new equipment then aged in classic barrels 4 meters below the winery. Again, our visit concluded with an incredible lunch with wonderful local fare straight from the Poggione farm: courses of cured wild boar, house made paté, fresh pasta with Cinghiale, steak and house-made sausage and chocolate torte…. yes, I put on some serious lbs on this trip!
The lineup of wines was equally as spectacular:
Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino – 100% Sangiovese aged in French barrels for 12 months. Ripe mixed red and black berry fruit, with firm tannic and acid structure. The aromatics are floral and with ripe cherry notes and earthy undertones. Perfect with the pasta and Cinchiale.
Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino – 100% Sangiovese from vines over 20 years old aging in French oak barrels for 36 months and a time in bottle for release. The wine has an intense nose of floral and ripe fruit aromas with firm structure. It is full bodied, with rich velvety structure – a beautiful accompaniment to wild game and rich meats.
Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Vigna Paganelli – 100% Sangiovese from the single vineyard of Paganelli planted in 1964. Aged in French barrels for 48 month and a long bottle aging prior to release. The nose is elegant with aromas of red berries, leather and spices with a long and persistent finish – the optimal accompaniment for a truffle menu with red meats.
Next week, Casabianco and Rome….