The Tour.1

26 Jul

“In the heart of Montalcino, one of the most evocative villages in legendary Tuscany, is located Tenuta Pietranera, a winery renowned all over the world.”  (introduction from the Pietranera brochure.)

Evocative…such a perfect word. Winding through the glorious hills of Montalcino truly evokes an emotional response…it’s difficult to take in, let alone describe, all the natural beauty…the endless rows of vineyards lined in precision; the soaring cyprus trees dotting the hillside; the olive groves more wild and less defined; and the ancient Tuscan structures lovingly restored and preserved…all flourishing beneath the tuscan sunshine. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, no picture can do justice to the majesty of Montalcino.

Back at the estate, Emanuela begins our tour. She explains that in 1985, Giovani Peluso, an attorney from Naples, purchased four hectares of land for hunting…yes, woods for hunting.  Sometime later, observing that both land and vineyards were being snapped up, he and his wife, Marisa Centolani, began acquiring hectares of vineyards. Today, the Peluso Centolani family own and operate Tenuta Friggiali, Tenuta Pietranera and Donna Olga. If you picture Montalcino as a mountain, the Friggiali  and Donna Olga vineyards are on the west side where the land is hotter and higher. The estate is also on the west side. The Pietranera vineyards are on the east side of the mountain where the soil is more volcanic. There the grapes ripen faster and must be picked sooner. Unlike some of the huge vineyards, their grapes are all hand picked by devotees. (Pictures courtesy of the estate.)

Once in the cellar, the grapes are separated from the stalks, squeezed and put in vats where alcoholic fermentation takes place. There are very specific rules that govern the length of maturation, types of barrels, and continual testing and control before the sangiovese grapes ultimately transform into Brunello wine.

A few facts about Brunello wine: in 1888, the first wine to be called Brunello was bottled by Ferruccio Biondi-Santi; a Brunello must come from a single harvest of select sangiovese grapes from the same vineyard – no commingling of grapes or vineyards; it must be aged in oak casks for at least two years and aged in bottles for at least 4 months;  it becomes available for sale on January 1 of the 5th year after the harvest; today, there are 208 Brunello estates of various sizes in Montalcino, and some of the wines never leave Italy.

If you appreciate Brunello wines as we do, you might like knowing that years 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010 are five star years, but as of this date, nothing beyond 2006 has been released. As each new vintage rolls out, you might just want to grab a few to store for future years.

Our tour let us experience a factory that is immaculate, serious, personal, professional, tranquil, modern yet old world, and tended to with love and care. Here one truly understands the meaning of “labor of love.” No detail is too small or overlooked and nothing is left to chance. Patience is abundant as nature slowly takes its course.

At the center of the Pietranera vineyards, there is a 700 year old oak tree. Each year, some Pietranera followers can be seen sitting under the tree tasting the new vintage surrounded by the beauty and peacefulness of the landscape.  A future trip perhaps?

After about an hour, Emanuela concluded our tour with a few simple words: “Are you ready to taste?” We just smiled.

Ciao!

Judy

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