Italian wine history takes us back over 3,000 years with incredible, traditional wines that remain among the best in the world.
It is well documented that Italy’s modern time wine fortunes improved dramatically some 40 – 50 years ago when the Italian government implemented the first DOC (Demoninazione di Origine Controllata) laws.
These laws are the basis of the Italian wine industry and guarantee to the consumer that the bottle contains exactly what the label implies. They are similar to other wine laws in France, Portugal and Germany to name just a few) and are strictly enforced by the Italian government in an effort to improve the overall quality of Italian wines
Unlike other countries, the implementation of these laws caused an almost miraculous rejuvenation of high quality, wonderfully impressive wines that today rank among the finest produced in the entire world. A further declaration, this one DOCG (Demoninazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) in the mid 1980’s, has had an incredibly beneficial effect in Italy’s very finest wine producing regions. Most notable of these is Tuscany, home to the great Chianti Classicos and also the spectacular Brunello di Montalcinos, arguably among the finest red wines produced in Italy or, in fact, anywhere.
What is really neat about many Tuscan wines is that they are produced by family associations, some large, some small, unlike most other wine producing regions of Italy. This makes for delightful backgrounds stories for many wines, thereby increasing the total ambiance of the entire region.
In the important world of international wine competitions, Tuscany’s wines have proven themselves time after time. In Great Britain, where wine consumption and reporting is an art form, many of these great Italian wines have been awarded grand prizes when placed in direct competition with equally fine and famous wines from France, California and elsewhere.
A number of years ago, Italy’s foremost wine expert, Giacomo Tachis put it this way: “Here is the light, the sun. Radiant sunlight and the right soil are the soul of wine. But the tradition of the countryside and the memory of men are the solid bases of the extraordinary Tuscan wine culture.”
Andrea Borghi, Marco and Patrizia Cortonesi
Like his father Mario, Andrea Borghi is primarily a self-taught winemaker who has learned the business through the tradition of generational hand down of information, not unusual in Italian winemaking families. However, Andrea does employ the consulting services of Michele Camini, a well-known and highly praised winemaker who is a graduate of the respected Institute of Technology and Agriculture in Siena. Camini started in 1995 with the Monetcucco Co-op and worked later at Villa Artimino. She has consulted with the Borghi family since 2004 and brings a modern approach to the traditional winemaking techniques that the family has favored for more than four decades. At La Manella, the husband and wife team of Marco and Patrizia Cortonesi control the destinies of their Brunello-based winery. Marco is winemaker and Patrizia manages the vineyard operations for the small winery. Marco has a Masters in Oenology from the Institute of Technology and Agriculture in Siena, the Tuscan equivalent of the University of California Davis. Since La Manella’ first release in 1990, Marco Cortonesi has applied a modern approach and sophisticated wine techniques to his winery’s production of a deep and powerful Brunello di Montalcino. His son Tommaso is presently studying oenology in university and intends to follow his father into the family business.
Two of Italy’s finest - Tenute Borghi, and Agricola La Manella
Tenute Borghi - Chianti Classico DOCG Gallo Nero, Fattoria Le Gallozzole Vernaccia de San Gimigiana DOCG, Borghi
Two of Italy’s finest wines, a red Chianti Classico and a white Vernaccia de San Gimignano, come from the production facilities of the famous Borghi Family. Mario Borghi entered the wine business in 1968 and a decade later, converted the existing family-owned Nozolli distillery into a modern wine making facility that produces around 60,000 hectares (about 25,000 cases) of ultra-premium wines annually. The Gallo Negro (black rooster) is not part of Italian wine law, but rather the trademark of the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium that has been providing authenticity and product assurance since 1924. It is yet another traditional gesture on the part of Italian winemakers and producers to protect wine quality in the small Chianti Classico zone. Chianti Classicos must also include 100% Sangiovese grapes by law. The Borghi Family owns a great deal of vineyard land (nearly 150,000 acres) and produces what amounts to a number of excellent estate wines from its vines. Le Gallozzole is the specific estate that produces this International Series Wine Club selection. It is a beautiful picture postcard, fully restored stone facility that sits on 60 pristine hectares (about 148 acres) completely surrounded by vineyards towards the southern end of the Chianti Classico zone. It traces its heritage back almost eight centuries and includes thirteen suites and a main villa that are available to visitors.
The Vernaccia grape is one of Italy’s finest white grapes and traces its origins back as early as 1276. It has been highly prized for centuries and is only grown in the hilly confines that surround the town of San Gimigiana. It was the first Italian white to receive DOC status in 1966 and also the first to receive the upgraded DOCG designation in 1993. It has been known for centuries as the White Wine of Kings and its vineyards have been fought over for many centuries.
Agricola La Manella -
The estate that produces our other International Series red, La Manella Brunello de Montalcino, is decidedly young for an Italian wine company. Founded in 1990 by the Cortonesi Family, the estate comprises some 56 hectares (138 acres) of which 20 acres are planted in the venerable Brunello grape. Brunello (literally, nice dark one) is a clone of the great Sangiovese that has developed a fierce following of its own during the past seventy years. The vineyards are located south of the city of Siena and in close proximity to the smaller walled city of Montalcino that gives its name to the wine. Here again, the ground is hilly and filled with rocks that give growth to superb vineyards and fruit. Brunello di Montalcino is also one of Tuscany’s rarest wines, and due to collector’s favor, one of Tuscany’s most expensive wines. Since its area is so small (some 3,000 acres compared to Chianti’s nearly 41,000 acres) this situation is unlikely to change in the future.