Caccia al Piano 1868
In 2003, winemaker Franco Ziliani launched Caccia al Piano 1868, a boutique family-run winery producing a range of world-class Super Tuscan wines from the beautiful Bolgheri countryside in Tuscany.
Guido Berlucci & C.
This incredibly successful company has its origins in 1955 when its namesake produced the first known Italian sparkling wine known as spumante. Finding the original products of insufficient quality and therefore non competitive to French Champagne, Guido Berlucci sought help from Franco Ziliani, one of Italy’s leading enologists at the time. Another person, Giorgio Lanciani, a friend of Ziliani’s, was added and the entity Guido Berlucci & C. was formed. By 1961, the company was able to produce 3,000 bottles of its first sparkling wine, known then as Pinot di Franciacorta. Today, Guido Berlucci & C. is Italy’s largest producer of spumante with an annual production of 5 million bottles, a great deal of which is consumed in Italy itself. Guido Berlucci was an imposing figure and his mansion, the 16th Century Palazzo Lana Berlucci, was one of Italy’s finest and most revered. Its ancient cellars were perfect for the storage and development of the new company’s sparkling wines.
Now nearly six decades later, Guido Berlucci & C. is owned by Franco Ziliani children, who have worked in the family business for years. Arturo Ziliani is the CEO and winemaker, while his brother Paolo and sister Cristina work together to carry on the company’s legacy. The trio has modernized the entire operation, both with new equipment and with expanded cellars. The vertical excavation was concentrated in a narrow section of the property to avoid spoiling the natural beauty of the area that was affected.
Part of the operation is the exceptional Caccia al Piano 1868 winery (the date of the original mansion on the property), originated in 2003 by Franco Ziliani to produce extraordinary red wines in the Super Tuscan category that had become increasingly popular.
Caccia al Piano 1868 is located along the famed Via Bolgherese, the storied wine and olive trail that runs between Bibbona and Castagneto Carducci, just off the Italian coastline (Tyrrhenian Coast). It lies south southeast of Genoa and north-northwest of Rome. This is the epicenter of the Super Tuscan production area and it produces some of Italy’s finest red wines that sell at the same level as many important Bordeaux Châteaux and Burgundy Grand Crus.
Caccia al Piano 1868 is situated on a former hunting lodge and has around 45 acres of planted vineyards, mostly Bordeaux varietals and Syrah. Its proximity to the warming sea breezes and the protective mountains to the west assure near perfect conditions for producing world-class grapes. The winery and cellars are located just outside the picturesque streets of Carducci.
Two distinctive reds are produced, Levia Gravia and Ruit Hora, both lines from the poetry of beloved Italian poet Giosue Alessandro Giuseppe Carducci (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and the official national poet of modern Italy) who lived in the area for part of his life.
The entry into producing Super Tuscans was a major departure for the sparkling wine-oriented company Guido Berlucci & C. It must be noted that one of the company’s founders, Franco Ziliani, now in his late eighties, is the person primarily associated with the new endeavor. Ziliani still owns a token share in the company, but passed on the daily operations to his children several years ago. Founder Guido Berlucci’s share in the company went into a trust more than two decades ago and was bought by a company controlled by his co-founder Franco Ziliani and was in turn sold to Ziliani’s sons and daughter.
The early editions of Caccia al Piano’s 1868 Super Tuscan releases have been met with exceptional international favor and must be considered in the upper tier of the category. Wineries such as this are the propelling force in Italy’s continuing battle for supremacy on the international wine market. The fact these Super Tuscan wines are able to command exceptional prices supports the belief that the vintners involved are producing truly exceptional wines.
Map of the area
Arturo Ziliani - Winemaker
Following in his famous father’s footsteps, Arturo Ziliani took over the reins as winemaker for Guido Berlucchi and its family of fine wines several years ago. He is a classically-trained winemaker having graduated from the prestigious Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Oenologie in Montpelier, France. Arturo Ziliani is dedicated to the ideal of organic farming and has converted all the Guido Berlucchi estate vineyards to organic. His announced mission is to see that all vineyards located within the Franciacorta growing area are also converted to organic in order to make the area Europe’s first 100% organic appellation.
He has been quoted thusly. “It is my intent to restore natural wine balance. I feel there is a greater tendency in physiologically-raised vines to deploy a more rapid immune system defense against pathogens that can cause disease in the vines.”
Arturo Ziliani is considered a European leader in the field of organic farming as well as being a gifted winemaker. He also serves as Guido Berlucchi’s chief executive officer as the company continues to expand and innovate.
Bolgheri is a relatively young yet prestigious Italian appellation located in the Maremma on the Tuscan coast, just south of Livorno, and named after a town in the northern part of the region. It is known mainly for deeply colored, supple yet age-worthy red wines, usually based on the French Bordeaux grape varieties. The winemaking zone features sloping coastal vineyards close the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The modern history of Bolgheri began at the end of World War II when Marchese Mario Incisa got the idea to plant Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on his estate, in an area otherwise known only for rustic Sangiovese and Trebbiano wines. Liking the results, he went on to plant his Sassicaia vineyard (now world renowned) with Cabernet in the early 1960’s.
As recently as the 1970’s, the Bolgheri region had little reputation for its wine production and was regarded as being better suited to other farming practices, which is in contrast to the prime Tuscan vineyards located further up in the hills. Then, in 1978, in an infamous blind tasting arranged by Decanter magazine, one of the Sassicaia wines of Bolgheri beat out a number of top Bordeaux wines. This instance led to a great awakening of interest in the region and suddenly winemakers were taking note of Bolgheri’s sunny, dry and breezy climate and the characteristic stony, clay soils. It wasn’t long before Sassicaia’s reputation and Bolgheri’s winegrowing potential attracted further vineyard expansion that focused mostly on the red Bordeaux varieties.
Today, the Bolgheri region of Tuscany boasts being the birthplace of the first ‘Super Tuscan’ wine, made with a Cabernet Sauvignon base. Each winemaker ultimately decides on their final ‘recipe,’ and it makes for an enjoyable way to discover the endless possibilities of the world famous Super Tuscan blends.
Wine Regions of Italy
Italy is home to more than twenty designated wine regions, each producing an incredible range of wine styles and indigenous cuisines that are largely due to the country’s extensive geographic characteristics. The wide ranging topography, from coastal to mountainous, the differing soil conditions, and the moderate Mediterranean climate provide an ideal basis for premium grape growing and contribute to the production of over 350 grape varietals.
The wines derive not only from native vines, which represent an enormous array, but also from a complete range of international varieties - like this month’s featured wines (known as Super Tuscans). Italy’s glowing reputation with wine is due not only to the fact that it produces and exports more than any other country, but that it offers the greatest variety of wine types, ranging through nearly every color, flavor and style imaginable.
Italy: Fun Facts!
• Italian wine has been produced for over 4,000 years, and is considered the perfect environment to grow wine, largely due to the country’s climate (which is perfect for viticulture). In fact, when the Greeks first stepped foot in Southern Italy, wine had already become a part of the Italian ‘everyday’ lifestyle. So much so, that the country was called ‘Oenotria’ (meaning ‘the land of wine’).
• There are over 140 types of pasta made in Italy.
• Italy is home to Europe’s only three active volcanoes: Etna, Stromboli, and Vesuvius.
• Vatican City, in Rome, is the smallest country in the world.
• Italy grows more than 400 wine grape varieties. The top three grapes in terms of production levels by region are Sangiovese, Trebbiano, and Montepulciano.
• Italy is the world’s largest exporter of wine.
• Italy is home to the oldest continually operating university in Europe. The University of Bologna was founded in 1088 and remains to this day as one of the most prestigious universities in Europe.
• Around €3000 (roughly $3,500) is thrown into the Trevi Fountain by tourists daily. It is then collected and donated to charity.
• Lillies are the national flower of Italy.
• The use of pasta in Italy can be traced back as far as the 4th Century B.C.
• Parmesan cheese originated in the area around Parma, Italy. Italians also created many other cheeses, including Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Provolone, and Ricotta.
• The capital of Italy is Rome (also known as the Eternal City) and is almost 3,000 years old. It has been the capital since 1871 and is home to the Dome of St. Peter’s, the Sistine Chapel, the Coliseum, and Trevi Fountain.
The Flag of Italy
The Italian flag was first established during the Napoleonic Wars by French republics in northern Italy, who styled it after the French tricolor. The colors chosen by the Republic were red and white, the colors of the flag of Milan, and green, which was the color of Milanese civic guard uniforms. In 1848, the design was adopted by the house of Savoy, which went on to lead the Italian unification. The present flag was adopted in 1946, when Italy became a republic.
Tuscany’s regional flag displays a Pegasus symbol, bordered by horizontal red stripes. The Pegasus image was taken from a coin made by the Florentine artist Benvenuto Cellini in 1537, and it was also the symbol of the Tuscan National Liberation Committee during the Second World War. The red stripes are thought to be derived from the red-white-red triband of the Austrian flag and was adopted by Tuscany in the later half of the 18th Century.
Italy's Wine History
Tuscany is first and foremost known as the birthplace of Chianti, the beloved red wine made famous in literature and on the movie screen. In the mid 1960’s, Chianti was one of the first regions to be granted DOC (Denominacione di origine controllata) status, Italy’s answer to France’s successful AOC appellation system. Most wine enthusiasts weren’t aware that the Chianti DOC allowed the use of 20% white grapes, a fact that displeased a number of Italian winemakers who saw the quality of Chianti fade a decade later as wineries increased their volume and utilized the white wine as much as possible.
An improbable alliance of rebel winemakers began making wines outside the DOC laws, but were forced to label their wines Vino da Tavola, the lowest rung on the designation ladder.
When American writers and periodicals embraced these outlaw winemakers and their wines, a new category of Italian wines were born under the aegis, Super Tuscans. These wines became wildly popular and created an international presence for Italian wines not seen since World War I.
Super Tuscans forced Chianti to amend its laws in 1984 and white wine was no longer allowed in the Chianti blends. An additional designation, G, for Garantita, was added that helped Chianti regain much of its former prestige.
But, it was apparent to everyone that the idea of Super Tuscan wine was around to stay, and in 1992, the Italian government created another acronym, IGT, or Indicazione Geogafica Tipica, an appellation allowing for experimentation, as long as the grapes originated from the area in which the wines were made.
So successful were the Super Tuscans that several sub-appellations were later added, including Bolgheri, the place of origin of this month’s International Wine Club selections. All grapes are grown in this region and still carry the IGT status that has become so important to Italian wines on the International wine platform.
The inclusion of Super Tuscan wines has been a great boon, both to Italian producers and to American consumers who consider the idea of Super Tuscans their own. As the wine world continues to evolve, such scenarios similar to the one described above will emerge. Forward thinking wine writers and experts should embrace these concepts, since they are the future of international wine growth.
It is our pleasure to introduce these amazing wines to our International Wine Club members. Cin cin!