Col d’Orcia

© Paolo Tenti | Poggio al Vento vineyard with Castello di Argiano in background

The first thing to do was to pull up tobacco and wheat; after that it was years of studying Sangiovese. All that work has paid off, says Kerin O’Keefe, and Col d’Orcia continues to set ever higher standards in Montalcino.

Perhaps one of Francesco Marone Cinzano’s most significant contributions to Montalcino was choosing the right areas to plant Sangiovese.

Read the article: Col_dOrcia_feb_2013.pdf

Police arrest suspect in Soldera wine sabotage

Police have arrested a former employee of Brunello producer Soldera in connection with the destruction of thousands of litres of wine.

As reported earlier today on Montalcino-based website winenews.it, Di Gisi was arrested last night after a coordinated investigation involving Montalcino and Siena carabinieri, as well as the public prosecutor of Siena.

According to reports, the suspect already has a record of crimes involving destruction of property. In this case, he is charged with sabotage.

According to unofficial reports, Di Gisi bears a grudge against Soldera, stemming from the fact ‘Soldera showing preference to another employee by giving him better lodging’ at the winery, online daily siena.free.it said.

At a televised press conference in Siena the authorities said they arrested the subject after following his movements on 2 December on various video cameras around Montalcino and later intercepted a cell phone call where he told his nephew, ‘Wine isn’t like blood, with two washes it will go away.’

Read the article: Police arrest suspect in Soldera wine sabotage

Montalcino rallies round as Soldera’s Brunellos are destroyed

Vandals have destroyed thousands of litres of ageing Brunello in the cellars of cult producer Gianfranco Soldera.

The cellars at Soldera’s Case Basse estate in Montalcino were broken into and the taps opened on all of his Brunello barrels, draining the every litre of vintages from 2007 to 2012 – more than 600 hectolitres (60,000 litres) of ageing wine. No bottles, nor any valuables were taken or damaged.

Most observers assume this was a personal attack on Soldera (pictured), one of the most outspoken Brunello producers and a staunch advocate of the rule that allows only 100% Sangiovese in the blend.

Fellow producers and their consorzio, shocked at the crime, are rallying behind him.

Read the article: Montalcino rallies round as Soldera’s Brunellos are destroyed

Italian legend Aldo Conterno dies

Legendary Barolo producer Aldo Conterno passed away in Monforte d’Alba in Piedmont at the age of 81.

Aldo Conterno, who played a crucial role in Barolo’s rebirth as a world-class wine, came from generations of Barolo producers.

His father was the acclaimed Barolista Giacomo Conterno, one of the denomination’s twentieth century pioneers who in 1920 began bottling the family’s Barolo Riserva, so heralding the birth of Monfortino, arguably Barolo’s most iconic wine.

In 1961, Conterno and his brother Giovanni inherited the Giacomo Conterno winery; the two brothers went their separate ways in 1969 and Aldo created his own estate, Poderi Aldo Conterno, in Bussia in Monforte d’Alba.

Read the article: Italian legend Aldo Conterno dies

Modest maestros

From the shadows of Italy’s famous consultant winemakers, who drove the country into the spotlight with cult bottlings from international grapes, a band of less starry names is finally emerging. Kerin O’Keefe profiles six oenologists working with native grapes who are reluctantly getting the attention their efforts deserve.

Read the article: Modest maestros

Montalcino: time to get in the zone

Forget blending scandals and infighting over the make-up of Rosso – the biggest issue facing Brunello di Montalcino is the creation of subzones. Kerin O’Keefe argues that consumers need better guidance around what is a vast region of hugely variable styles – and quality.

If Brunello di Montalcino’s 2008 grape blending scandal proved anything, it was that the region’s native Sangiovese excels only in certain areas of the vast growing zone. Why else would producers be tempted to adulterate it with other varieties?

It is surely no coincidence that since the scandal, which was effectively swept under the rug in 2009, there has been an attempt to change Brunello’s rigid production code to allow other grapes, as well as two efforts to modify Rosso di Montalcino – reportedly launched by some of the denomination’s largest firms. The efforts failed.

Now a number of producers are arguing that, rather than allowing other grapes to bolster wines hailing from inferior vineyards, it is instead time to recognise quality by creating official subzones. Summertime temperatures can vary by up to 7°C between Montalcino’s northern and southern extremes, and a dizzying array of altitudes range from just above sea level to more than 500m. Montalcino also boasts one of the most complex and diverse soil profiles in Italy, and all of these factors have a marked effect on the performance of the temperamental Sangiovese. Despite such obvious differences, or perhaps because of them, the powers that be in Montalcino continue to ignore pleas from a growing number of parties to officially acknowledge Montalcino’s varied subzones.

Read the article: Montalcino: time to get in the zone

Lugana. World Class White with Finesse

Lugana is one of the most exciting white wines made in Italy thanks to its unique growing conditions, very old vines and native grape Turbiana.

If for years Lugana was Italy’s best kept oenological secret,
known mainly to the throngs of tourists who descend every year
on the sparkling shores of Lake Garda to visit the area’s picturesque villages and the charming 13th century Sirmione Castle, the secret is now out.

Read the article: Lugana. World Class White with Finesse