🇬🇧 Montalcino tales – a Masterclass with Luciano Ciolfi

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You should know by now how much I love to visit Wineries, the walks in the vineyard, tasting directly form barrels and fermentation vats, and exploring the differences in every vintage as well as the evolution of wine with the so-called vertical tastings.

Here where everything begins, everything tastes different. The scents and sensations are amplified by those of the territory. Territoriality, that word we all use and perhaps abuse, you can breathe it here, feel it under your skin, chew it, touch it with your own hands.

I love all this about visiting cellars, but above all I love to go to school here and learn from those who know so much about wine, and I mean for real!  From those who put real work into it, tears, sweat and blood, who are at school themselves with Mother Nature on a never-ending class. A Teacher, who is sometimes benevolent and sometimes cursed, but in any case, will always teach something new!

Sometimes it may seem that I don’t pay attention. I take pictures, I look around, I smell everything, I hug trees and let myself be distracted by a thousand other things. It is the child inside of me, and as a child I always look at everything with fresh eyes! But I am always listening, and I absorb everything, even when I seem distracted, just like children do!

Luciano Ciolfi needs no introduction, and at Sanlorenzo he has taught us so many things!

Wine is made in the vineyard first, another sentence we have all used and abused. What I did not know, however, is that this year’s buds already carry the fruits of the following one. The vineyards surrounded by woods, decline gently down to the valley. Sand, clay and “galestro”, lots of “galestro” the typical Tuscan soil! I pick up a clod, study it carefully, smell it and I feel like biting it like the Cistercian monks used to do. I’m afraid, indeed I’m sure, that NasoDVino and Luciano would think I am crazy and so I let the earth slide between my fingers in a last delicate caress. Well yes, I’ve already left a piece of my heart here and we haven’t even entered the cellar yet.

I embrace the beautiful oak tree, my heart beats faster and faster ad we go in.

There’s never a plan when you visit a cellar, it is all impromtu and it is the vigneron who decides what to do. We must have really won Luciano over, because he made us taste everything! From the “Act to become Brunello 2019” to the 2016 Riserva that will be bottled next summer, passing through the rosé obtained from the “bloodletting” of the red. Luciano also had us understand how the different barrels work on the same vintage by letting us taste a barrel with a few years and then a brand new one. Incredibly didactic, and how many choices to make in the vineyard as well as in the cellar! And Luciano seems to make all the right decisions, because his wine is truly liquid poetry!

The last harvest 2019, which is expected to become Brunello and will be out in 2024, has recently carried out the malolactic fermentation; the fruit is very crunchy but is there already. The “Sangiovetic” tannin, as Naso loves to define it, is very aggressive as it should be, and it is anything but unpleasant. The crispy freshness gives it an immediacy that wins you over sip after sip. Very far from being a Brunello, this 2019 is ready to drink and with great pleasure I dare say!

The rosé from bloodletting, let’s talk about it! And let’s talk about it big time and spread the word! Rather than “waste material” here I am reminded of the famous Adam’s rib, because this Sangiovese is Female while remaining Sangiovese still! A rosé with the sinuous and powerful muscles of a dancer, agile, graceful, intoxicating, voluptuous! And this is what you get out of it in its early stage, because this one too is another taste from the fermentation vats.

And then there’s the masterpiece, the barrel on the far right, the one I would have taken home in one piece and I swear I’d be able to finish I all! It is the Riserva 2016 that rests quietly and blissfully and has reached a level of perfection that we will find only in a few years after bottling, scheduled for the end of this summer. Because bottling is a trauma that upsets everything quite a bit! You may be able to wait until 2022, but not me however, because I have already tasted it and therefore it would be a truly poignant wait, and that is why I will go back and visit Luciano in August!

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