I haven’t had the chance to visit a winery for a long, long time now and it’s the thing I miss the most about my life. That sense of amazement and wonder that I will never get used to, every time is always as the first time, even with Wineries I have already been to. That feeling of belonging that is only a glimpse at first, but every time I end up entering as a perfect stranger and leaving with the awareness that I have created a new bond, a new connection. Every Winery is a different story, every winemaker has the same flaming passion but each one has a unique and personal approach, philosophy and interpretation to wine making. These are the wineries as I like them, where the style is personal and there is no homologation, and every vintage carries its own peculiar gifts. Where the dialogue with Nature is continuous and tight and evolves from one year to the next as in any great love story; where we fight but then we always make peace.

Among the many stories there is one that I have never told yet and it is about time that I do tell you. At the beginning of January I made an appointment with Luciano Ciolfi to finally visit his Sanlorenzo Winery in Montalcino. We had already met at Sangiovese Purosangue in Siena, and while he was busy chatting with people, I took the opportunity to taste his Brunello Bramante again and again. As it often happened, Naso joined me in Montalcino and wisely made an appointment for the afternoon; you always have to make the best of these trips and he is very good at it!

And that’s how I discovered Terre Nere, another Winery that is making its way in the Montalcino scene, I promise you will hear more and more about it! To welcome us a beautiful girl with long dark hair, deep eyes, shy smile, wrapped in a scarf way too big. It was very cold indeed, and as usual I had the wrong jacket! Looking at her I wondered whether she knew how beautiful she was.

She greeted us and apologized that the vineyards were far from the winery and that she could not take us to visit them, but she described them with such passion and competence that we almost didn’t realize we were elsewhere. Her enthusiasm was overflowing and contagious, and I was already totally in love with Francesca, yes that’s her name. The tasting in the cellar turned out to be a party! Very didactic but a great party nevetheless! There is energy here, there is dynamism, there is rhythm, there is the desire to experiment, to grow, to try to go further! We started with a Sangiovese rosé, an absolute new entry from a few rows harvested a week in advance, 24-hour maceration, soft pressing and go! Still in an embryonic stage but already a very exuberant promise!  And then Sangiovese, from the vats, from the large barrels, different chapters of the same fascinating story. Tradition that dialogues with and challenges innovation, and that desire to find a new expressive vein every time. If anyone can look a vintage straight in the eyes and then say “OK! Challenge accepted! Let’s go!” that person is definitely Francesca.

We opened some bottles in front of a majestic fireplace, where it felt so good and cozy that it took us a blink of an eye to switch to high school buddies mode! We drank, laughed, joked, and recovered until dusk, and then it was time to leave unfortunately. We met other times with Francesca, the last time at Benvenuto Brunello 2020. I confess I’m usually rather confused and unfocused, but that day she was stunningly beautiful that I did not recognize her right away. She’s so beautiful and she doesn’t know it, she’s ashamed to pose for photos and in the end she never looks too good in them, just like myself! Because she doesn’t have the cover girl attitude. Then Naso took us by surprise while we were laughing our heads off and the end result was just amazing!

She’s like me, she’s Sangiovese, with no compromises! Sangiovese gives satisfaction like few other varieties if you know how to appreciate it; there can be no but or maybe, it must be loved and respected for what it is, it requires commitment and then gives itself out with a disarming gracefulness all but disappointing. But mind you, don’t ever treat it like a Merlot, with no offense to this absolutely noble grape variety. What I mean to say is that you can’t help but fall for Merlot, whereas Sangiovese requires time and commitment and will then be able to fulfill and satisfy without ever asking for anything in return.

When this is all over, I want to start from the cellars where I left a piece of my heart and I did leave a piece here too!