Chronicle of a predictable success


Vitraya Ramunong is the Tree of Souls that guards the spirits from the past, hears the dreams of the present and knows the souls of the future. It embraces the timelessness dimension of the spirit and the cosmos, and its roots are connected to all the other plants of planet Pandora. It is the magical tree of Avatar, from the imagination of James Cameron, but which exists in reality on earth as well, in different places and in other forms, and I have found one myself.

There is an enormous Oak tree that watches over Sanlorenzo‘s vineyards from one of the highest points of the Estate, and that holds the bloodline and the whole Soul of this enchanted place. My first embrace every time I go there is always for her. I love to sit in her shadow and have a quiet chat, I share with her my secrets, and let myself be cuddled by her positive and reassuring vibrations while I enjoy the breathtaking view from this corner of paradise. Sometimes I don’t even tell Luciano that I have arrived, and I sit there for a good half hour, because I know that sooner or later, he will show up somehow on his way back from the vineyards.

A stronghold of sturdiness and resilience, she knows the whole story of this place and of this family, even the one that no one has ever told; and it won’t be a perfect story, none ever is, but it is most definitely a story with a happy ending, even if a happy ending is never given to you for free, and it has to be conquered over and over again, one day at a time. Like any other great story, it is cyclical indeed and continuously fueled with novelties, and although the dream of a beautiful farm and an impeccable winery is now a reality, difficulties, worries and hard work will never be lacking.  For any dream to continue it is necessary to keep on dreaming! And those who stop will actually lose it.

The story of Sanlorenzo is like many other rural stories; it is the story of the courage of those who decided to stay when life there was simple and also very hard, especially for younger kids who mostly ran away, because there was nothing for them here. Not him, however, Luciano has stayed in the wake of the intuition of his grandfather Bramante that this land held a real treasure; they just had to keep working long and hard to be able to dig it out. He did not leave because he belongs here and this place belongs to him, because it is in the DNA that the destiny of each one of us is written, and his DNA says Brunello di Montalcino. Bramante made a wager on this land long before it became the myth it is today, and has worked her with all his energies, love, respect, and dedication for 101 years. He has lived long enough to witness the rise of his grandson who took up his legacy until the recognition of the hard work of both. He is in charge now, Luciano Ciolfi, and when you possess that patient determination in pursuing total quality without giving in an inch, you don’t need an MBA to become a successful entrepreneur. And if it is true that work ennobles man, we are most certainly in the presence of one of the most noble families in Montalcino.

If actions matter more than words to you, then this is your man! Luciano, shy, quiet, but tremendously eloquent in his manners, wins everyone over with his authentic and innate kindness, and his refreshing politeness. Every time I praise him for his extraordinary wines, he lowers his gaze into his glass and smiles in silence. And yet he has had to learn how to handle manifest praise, because after the scores obtained from professional wine critics, especially for his Brunello 2016, he even ended up at “Porta a Porta”, one of the most renowned TV talk shows in Italy, listed at the top of the ranking of the best Italian wines! He has not change a bit though, he never brags about his wines, and he keeps lowering his gaze into the glass with a smile every time I praise him, and I do praise him quite often!

Riding with commitment, seriousness, and above all with intelligence always pays off in the end, while anyone riding only ends up digging a hole! He knows it well, as any time he is not in the vineyard, he is on his bike pursuing his passions with no shortcuts, and with the 2016 vintage he finally reached the highest step of the podium. And don’t ever think it was easy in a 5-star vintage, it never is anyway, and the competition was fierce indeed! If you need further proof, I invite you to taste his Brunello 2017 so you can rid yourself of any doubt. Sometimes you may think that wines that are made in enchanted places and faithfully bring them to you in the glass can only be as good as they are. Let us not forget, however, that terroir is made up of land, grape variety, and vigneron, and Luciano’s work makes all the difference! In fact, it takes a lot of work to be able to intervene as little as possible in the winemaking process! It seems a paradox, but it is not! Somewhere I read that “Communication takes place when, in addition to the message, there is also a supplement of soul”. And the Soul of these wines is huge!

Let me wrap it up with a quote from a beautiful article by Mario Crosta which, unfortunately, is in Italian only

“Bravo Luciano … Do not blush. You will conquer, one by one, all the stars of the night of San Lorenzo.” 

I do see that smile of yours now, you know, I have it stuck in my head! Give the Oak tree a big hug for me, for I do not know when I will be able to return …