Tag Archives: Vinitaly 2013

Our last stop in Montalcino: a visit to the cellars of Franco Biondi Santi…

The drive way leading to Biondi Santi
The drive way leading to Biondi Santi

Earlier this year, we were ecstatic to be appointed by Franco Biondi Santi as his agent in Australia. Being a traditionalist at heart, I have always admired the wines of Biondi Santi so to be given the opportunity to be representing one of Montalcino’s (and Italy’s) most historically important estates and illustrated to me why I love my job as an importer of Italian wine.

Normally I like to visit a region every second year and this normally means that my annual trip to Italy will either focus on the South or the Central/North of Italy. However, after just a very quick visit to Il Palazzone last year and taking on the responsibility of Biondi Santi in Australia, it was worth a detour this year to spend time visiting both wineries.

The house and cellar of Franco Biondi Santi
The house and cellar of Franco Biondi Santi

However, whilst we were at Vinitaly we received the sad news that Franco Biondi Santi had passed away aged 91. At some stage, we will all leave this world but with his passing the world has lost one of the great men of Italian wine and he will be missed for generations to come.

Our visit to see Franco Biondi Santi was planned a few days after his subsequent death and whilst we were not expecting the winery to be open during this short time after his passing, it was Franco Biondi Santi’s son Jacobo Biondi Santi who lead us through the tasting of the wines and philosophy of the estate.

Inside the winery at Biondi Santi
Inside the winery at Biondi Santi

Whilst Jacobo has his own estate, called  Castello di Montepo in Maremma, he has for the past few years divided his time between his house in Sienna, his own estate in Maremma and also Il Greppo in Montalcino.

It seems that this will continue for the time being and also the the current direction and philosophy of both wineries will continue along their existing path.

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After visiting the cellars and talking with the staff, we sat down to try both current vintages and also a back vintage of one of Franco Biondi Santi’s favorite wines, the 1997 Riserva. The wines looked fantastic and we were lucky enough to try the 1997 twice in the space of a week.

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After finishing the tasting, we were given a bottle of the 2008 Brunello di Montalcino as a gift and instead of taking this bottle back to us in Australia, we decided to open the bottle on our last night in Rome and celebrate a fantastic two weeks travelling around Italy.

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This trip had everything. After starting in Rome, we did Campania (with the highlight being eating a three of the best pizzeria’s in Naples and the world, in the space of a few hours), Puglia, Veneto, Tuscany and then back to Rome. In the space of nine days, we did more than 3000 kilometers and ate and drank more than what I normally do in a month. It was a great trip and it was fantastic experiencing it all with my brother Stefano and amico Matteo.

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Fatalone: Primativo like you have never seen…

Old Primitivo vines.
Old Primitivo vines.

Whilst I was at Radici del Sud last year, I tried over a hundred different Primativo’s and to be honest, nothing really grabbed my fancy: until I came across Fatalone. This is serious, feminine, structured and long lived Primativo that has you enticed from the first glass.

The micro cellar of Fatalone
The micro cellar of Fatalone

The philosophy behind Fatalone is amazing and this wholistic approach is applied to everything they do. Read more about it below.

We look at vines and wines like people and give them all the best we could desire for ourselves. We give them care through our daily attention and loving presence on the vineyards in respect of the utmost artisanal winemaking traditions. We provide a fresh and comfortable environment through the soundproofing of the premises and temperature control; tranquillity and harmony by applying music therapy in the cellar, a mix of classical music and sounds from nature to support the micro oxygenation and the activity of the living micro flora present in our natural wines. This mix is the key to our success.

We took great care in choosing the soil that became the home of our vineyards and made the conscious decision to plant them all around our winery. We wanted to be near our vines daily and be able to take the fresh picked grapes immediately into the cellar during the harvesting to preserve the top quality of the grapes for winemaking. This is our way to make a truly locally grown product. We carefully chose the wild-vines, the growing system and the pruning most suitable for our vines, to give life to our belief in absolute quality combining this with our strong will to vinify just on our own organic autochthonous grapes and bottle our entire organic wine production.

We believe the success of a wine has to start from the roots of the vine by choosing all the best for the fruit of our labour, at any sacrifice, to create a very limited production of the highest quality.

Every step is carried out with the care and the wisdom which only the human touch can express. We want our wine to proudly mirror the territory, the soil and the men who are its authors.

In the deepest respect for Nature, we have made our production cycle 100% sustainable by practising organic farming, without using irrigation and processing just our own grapes located all around our cellar. Taking advantage of a renewable energy source, we power all our production process with solar energy. Thereby, we can proudly guarantee we produce a Zero CO2 emission wine made just with our locally grown organic grapes.

Our business philosophy is no different. We meticulously manage every aspect of production from the vine, to the bottle, to the final stages of marketing by carefully selecting customers who understand, respect and share our thinking.

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After a tour and tasting of the vineyard, we went to dinner with Pasquale. He is an amazing person and it was great to here his take on life over two hours. The wines of Fatalone have just arrived in Australia and can’t wait to show them on my return.

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Vinitaly 2013: the process has begun…

With February rolling around and my Italian trip around 7 weeks away, the planning process has begun. This year, more than any other year is going to be busy. Thousands of kilometers of driving before and after Vinitaly, with lots of producers visits from the bottom of Italy to the top.

Salvatore Molettieri Vinitaly 2012
Salvatore Molettieri Vinitaly 2012

For those wineries that I cannot physically visit, I will use Vinitaly as an opportunity to see familiar faces and see what is planned for the year ahead. After seeing the wineries we import, we will then use Vinitaly to see what else we can discover.

Spritz in Piazza Erbe (Verona)
Spritz in Piazza Erbe (Verona)

And when those long days are finished in Verona, it will be time to relax and unwind with a Spritz…