It was the day before our Bolgheri visit was going to end. We had an appointment at another winery in the area: Guado al Melo. But it was in the early afternoon, and we wanted to visit Castagneto Carducci, the town of which Bolgheri was just part of.
Castagneto Carducci is named after Giosue Carducci one of the best known poet and writer in Italy, he lived there when he was a child. As we drove up the hill in another nice day, before the rain was going to spoil our the last day, the view of the valley towards the sea was astonishing. Perfect picture place.
As we approached the town on a pedestrian only street ( well also cyclist road) we were passed by a large group of cyclist, I was amazed of how much uphill they made coming to the center of town.
There was a small castle and above all the house of Giosue Carducci, but the smell of fresh baked bread and pastries that was coming out of the local bakery made the hard uphill walk more pleasant.
After a good walk and a visit to the bakery and local stores, we passed on visiting the museum in the Carducci's house, because as always it was getting late to make our appointment to visit Guado al Melo.
As we turned into the winery parking, we were welcomed by a German host ( speaking Italian of course, but I would think that she would do the same for English groups ). She was very knowledgeable , we walked behind her towards the top of a small hill where she showed the large estate and she spent half hour on the the history and the philosophy of the winery.
Although it was harvest time, the late to ripe grapes where still hanging on the vines. I knew it was Cabernet Sauvignon.
The decision to plant a vineyard in this location was not made by chance but as a consequence of in-depth knowledge about its viticultural quality potential, thanks to its history and to the zonation studies carried out here in the 1990s.
Historical figures and documents report that these areas have been cultivated as vineyards at least since the mid-1800s. Between 1820 and 1821 the land were purchased by the landowner Giovanni Espinassi Moratti, becoming part of an estate that has left an extensive documentation. Thus it was known that, from then on, they were mainly dedicated to viticulture, with the varieties of Vermentino, Trebbiano toscano, Malvasia bianca and nera, Sangiovese and other Tuscan vines.
The wine was sold in nearby cities. After the Second World War the estate was broken up and our land passed to different owners. The Scienza family bought the propriety.
The link with Bolgheri of the Scienza family was born thanks to prof. Attilio and his work. He frequented the territory from the late '70s: he followed the planting of the vineyards of some wineries, then the changes in the DOC and conducted the study of viticulture zonation of the territory. By now he knew the territory inch by inch. When the opportunity arose for a new family business in '98 and it became known that a parcel was sold in one of the best areas of the appellation, the opportunity was not missed.
This passage of properties had left this particular parcel without a name. Examining historical maps, it was discovered the toponym “Guado al Melo,” or Ford at the Apple Tree, which was a ford across the Fossa di Bolgheri stream that forms the northern boundary of the property. And thus Guado al Melo it became, testifying the family bond with the area. In 1999, the vineyards were replanted . In 2000 (Michele and Annalisa) moved to live permanently in Castagneto and here their two children were born : Giovanni in 2001 and Federico in 2007.
The first real harvest, with the birth of the first wines, was made in 2002. In 2005 the construction of the winery was finally completed.
For millennia wine cellars have always been made underground for a simple reason: to create, in a natural way, the best space to store wine (fresh and humid). To follow this old choice allowed the family to save energy.
Therefor the winery is not an alien burden on the landscape but an integral part of its surrounding area. The cellar is completely underground, hidden beneath a low hill covered by olive trees and by flora of the Mediterranean scrub environment. A system of rainwater capture and re-use results in considerable water-savings. Custom-designed light wells enable natural lighting of labour-intensive areas.
While the exterior thus disappears from view, the cellar’s interior surprises with its elegant simplicity and harmoniously-designed work spaces and hospitality areas, and the museum path dedicated to the history and culture of the grapevine and wine. The focus of all these elements is the spacious Biblioteca del Vino. Throughout the year, they also host cultural activities, such as seminars, concerts, art exhibits, and book presentations, …
As we moved inside the winery which was built inside the hill , we visited the production area and the barriques , "bottaia". You could tell the the whole structure was truly state of the art. A small museum was also inside, with the history of winemaking and the technicality of the vine and wine production.
Atis was a mythic king, at the origin of Etruscan people, first civilization of this area and first winegrowers in Italy. The Etruscan training system, the vine "married" to the tree, has become the symbol of endless love in the Latin literature.
VINEYARD: it is among the hills of Bolgheri, the fresher part of the area, in a little valley with exposition East-West. The climate is Mediterranean, tempered by the breezes from the sea, with a broad day-night temperature swing during the summer. The soil is alluvial, very deep, sandy-clay, with clay areas, rich of pebbles. There is a polyclonal selection of Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc and Merlot.
PRODUCTION: The selected micro-parcels are harvested and vinificated separately. The work is handcraft, done with competence, experience and the utmost attention to detail, with the aim of enhancing the territorial characteristics of the grapes. Aging is for 24 months in used oak barrels, on the lees, and more than one year in the bottle.
VINTAGE 2015: It has been very equilibrated. The winter-spring period, rich in rains, has provided the stocks for the very hot and dry summer (as usually). The grapes ripening has been very regular, thanks also to the care, oriented to favor the balance of vines. The good weather lasted throughout the harvesting period, from September 2nd, when Merlot was harvested, till October 3th and 5th, for Cabernet franc and Cabernet sauvignon. The great vintage has originated a extraordinary Atis, very elegant and powerful. It is intense, with complex aromas and a very long persistence.
Rute comes simply from the word “red” in Etruscan. The Etruscans were the most ancient civilization of the territory and the first to cultivate the vine in Italy (at least from the 12th century BC). The bunch of grape is a detail of the grape shoot that is thelogo, one of the oldest representations of this subject found in Italy (maybe XI century BC).
FIRST VINTAGE: 2002
VARIETIES: Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot.
VINEYARD: . They were planted in the winter ‘98-’99 on the first slopes of the Segalari hill, in a little valley (exposition East-West) among the hills of Bolgheri. The climate is Mediterranean, tempered by the breezes from the Tyrrhenian sea. The hilly area has the fresher temperature of the territory, with a broad day-night temperature differentials on summer. The soil is alluvial, very deep, sandy-clay, with clay areas, rich of pebbles. We cultivate the vines with the experience and expertise of our family, winegrowers for generations.
It is critical the use of integrated and sustainable viticulture methods, that is, the choice of the best practices for an optimal production with the lowest impact on the environment and absence of residues in wines.
VINTAGE 2016: it was a very regular and interesting year. The winter was rather dry and mild, the spring very fresh and full of rain until the blooming, causing a little delay in bunches development. A very hot and dry summer followed (as usual), cooled down by some rain in the second half of August. The good weather continued until the end of the harvest, which started a little later than usual, at September 12th (and ended in early October). The 2016 gave birth to a refined and elegant Rute, intense, with a good freshness and very balanced, smooth and with a long finish.
PRODUCTION: the work is artisanal, done with competence, experience and the utmost attention to detail, with the aim of enhancing the territorial characteristics of the grapes. Merlot has been harvested on September 12th, Cabernet sauvignon the first days of October, collecting (and then working) separately the homogeneous micro-parcels. The selected grapes have been de-stemmed and pressed very softly, within a few minutes from the harvest, without adding sulfur dioxide to maintain the biodiversity of the yeasts. Fermentation and maceration were favored with frequent manual punching down. The maceration lasted 8-12 days. Agingtook place for 12 months in used oak barrels (225 liters), on the lees (on the yeasts). Each barrel was stirred manually once a week. After that, the wine was gradually subjected to several decanting to clear it (then it is not filtered). At the end, Rute was reconstituted in a large tank and left to mix in a natural way for about 3 month. Finally, it is refined it in the bottle for at least 12 months, in the best storage conditions. The addition of sulfites is minimal.
Jassarte is a single vineyard, that is the memory of how wine was born for millennia here, when its soul was sought only in the genius loci, in the earth and in the patient work of men. It is a rare blend of ancient grapes that were planted by the professor Scienza.
Jassarte is a Borderland*, between the East and the West, ideal place of the millennial exchange of knowledges, varieties, tools and dreams, which has always been the history of the vine and the wine.
*According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the boundary between the East and the West was marked by two rivers, the Indus to the south and the Jassarte to the north.
VINEYARD: it is among the hills of Bolgheri, the more fresh area of the territory, in a little valley with exposition East-West. The climate is Mediterranean, tempered by the sea breeze, with a broad day-night temperature differentials on summer. The soil is alluvial, very deep, sandy-clay, with clay areas, rich of pebbles. It hosts 30 red varieties.
PRODUCTION: The vineyard was harvested in 7 times, due to the different ripening period. Thework is craft, done with competence, experience and the utmost attention to detail, with the aim of enhancing the territorial characteristics of the grapes. Aging took place for 24 months in oak barrels on the lees. At the end, the wine was reconstituted, respecting the original identity of the vineyard. Finally, we refined it in the bottle for 12 months.
VINTAGE 2015: It has been very equilibrated. The winter-spring period, rich in rains, has provided stocks for the very hot and dry summer (as usual). The grapes ripening has been very regular, thanks also to our care, oriented to favor the balance of vines. The good weather lasted throughout the harvesting period, which took place along September. The great vintage has originated an amazing Jassarte, with a very deep color. It is full bodied, rich, velvety, elegant, well balanced and of great length.Available bottle sizes: 750 ml - (Magnum) 1,5 liter.
As we tatsted their wines , it was interesting to listn at their names and why. The wines were excellent and a formal tatsing notes will be published as soon as we will properly taste them.
It was very late afternnon when we left and we realized that we spent more than two hours at the winery. As we drove back towards our bed and breakfast we pased Guado al Tasso, the iconic winery from Antinori. But this is for another blog. Follow us on the wine voyager.