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Originally I wanted to visit all the top vineyards in the area during my time working at Mulini di Segalari (mid Sept to mid Oct 2015). However Tenuto San Guido — the estate that makes Salsiccaia — were super strict in not allowing guests to visit during harvest season. Thus I was only able to visit Ornellaia, which is amazing on its own anyway. Marina was very kind to help us book, arrange a tasting and visit as well as drive us there! Ornellaia is the “fanciest” wine estate in the region. Their visitor center looked rustic at the entrance but they have a separate modern exhibition space for their charity art bottles, processing facilities and tastings. I had no idea that the vineyard was rather spread out and that they purchase some extra acres later on that were separate from the older established vineyard. For such a big estate, they still hand pick and hand process everything (as seen in photos). They also had the biggest presses I have seen in my life — what we used at Castello di Potentino and Mulini di Segalari is incomparably smaller.
I befriended our guide at Ornellaia and she was very kind to invite us to have dinner at the enoteca in Bolgheri — they sell the third highest volume of wine in all of Italy. Somehow I managed to survive the 15 wine tastings (5 whites, 5 reds and 5 Super Tuscans in particular). I haven't taken any photos of this particular experience but I will treasure it for a long time to come.
I wish I had the time and $$$ to buy some Ornellaia to write some tasting notes but alas, none. However I am informed that Sotheby's HK do sell all three wines, Ornellaia, Le Serre Nuove, and Le Volte. You can only buy their experimental blend Variozione in Rosso at the tenuto itself.
What I have is a bottle of Odfjell's Amador Estate Selection, from Valle del Maipo, Chile, 2013.
Odfjell's "Armador" Estate Selection, 2013
Region: Valle del Maipo, Chile. Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon.
Bright fruity bouquet with surprisingly smooth tannins (despite not being super oaky!) and a nice medium berry finish.
Hello to everybody in 2016! Things are looking up so far: got book 1 of the 52 books in a year challenge done, short Thailand family vacay and one interview (WOOT!) down, and now my first WSET Level 1 course tonight. Lest I say more I should keep recapping last year's European adventures before they slip out of the head...
Mulini di Segalari is located in Castagneto-Carducci, Tuscany, Italy. Luckily it was a relatively easy direct regional train ride away from Grosseto. The area looks completely different even though it's a mere one hour westward, closer to the sea by Livorno. You still have the rolling hills, but everywhere is much more densely populated and has less wide vistas. It was my realisation on the particular effects of terroir—how drastic a region can change over such small distance and the resulting taste of the wine. Castagneto-Carducci is also located right by Bolgheri, which is the town of famous Super Tuscans such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia. (I visited the latter, which would be included in a following blog post.)
Mulini di Segalari was certainly MUCH more different than my experience at Potentino. It is run by a Italian family from Florence, with one permanent worker that was only present on the weekend. WWOOFer-wise, there was only me and one other (also Canadian) girl; we later got joined by two young Danes during my last week. Although it was still harvesting at large, the grapes and the process were hugely different. Firstly, the varietals grown here were 90% French: cabernet, merlot, syrah, petit verdot and the other 10% Italian grapes were: sangiovese; the whites: vermentino and white manzoni. The main owner of the vineyard, Marina, was very specific in the way we should handle and and harvest the grapes. She emphasized taking our time, using our hands (as opposed to wearing our gloves and snipping away) and feeling each individual grape for ripeness and mold. The entire process was a lot slower, but I grew more sensitive to eachs vine, really feeling and tasting each bunch for the best. After a few days in, I could not be more glad that I switched vineyards because I felt my knowledge jumped and it was here that I decided I wanted to work in wine.
My WWOOFing experience was the ideal WWOOF experience. I met not only Marina and her family but also her surrounding neighbors and their WWOOFees that came to help out some days on the harvest when we needed more hands on deck. There was a huge sense of community all working for the same goal, as opposed to the modern, more fragmented, urban society. I hope to WWOOF again, in vineyards in France in particular should I get a chance to pursue higher education in Europe. If there is interest, I would love to make a WWOOF guide. Let me know!
Mulini di Segalari, Bologheri Superiore 2012, D.O.C.
Region: Castagneto-Carducci. Varietal: Merlot 70%, Cabernet Sauvignon 15%, Petit Verdot 10%, Syrah 5%
Not as full bodied, slightly more acidic, sweet in the middle but tart on the finish
If you didn't know already from my Instagram, I spent September to December of this year gallivanting around Europe after wrapping up my au pair contract in Vienna at the end of August. The route more or less followed my idea of the Grand Tour. I started up north in Milan—skipping Venice because I was there in May with sis—then headed to Turin (BTW LOVE wines from Alba, for another post), through to Reggio Emilia where a friend lived (day trip to Bologna, natch), and ending with an epic train journey from Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Florence, Pisa and Grosseto (in that order) AND a final bus ride from there to the local town of Castel del Piano before being picked up for a ride to the castello.
Castello di Potentino is an estate situated near the town of Seggiano, ran by winemaker Charlotte Horton and her brother, Alexander Greene. The castello is all my Stealing Beauty (1996) dreams come true, with all the rolling hills, quaint villages and Monte Amiata. Admittedly I had started with an intensely romantic view of harvesting under the Tuscan sun. Nevertheless I carried with me an earnest attempt to learn more about viticulture and working with my hands, knowing that I will most likely spend the next stage of my life in a big city either in Asia or Canada.
The varietals grown there were sangiovese, alicante and pinot noir. The place is a damn well oiled WWOOF machine. A team of WWOOFers, such as yours truly, harvested and processed the grapes along with Uran (Charlotte's no. 2). I knew WWOOFing would include mostly heavy manual labour but I was still surprised at the physical strenuousness of the experience: lifting crates, carrying bottles, moving stacks etc. We also spent a couple of days bottling, which included one over-enthusiastic session at the corking machine resulting a few double corked bottles (sorry!).
In the end I parted ways with the vineyard earlier than planned (2 weeks as opposed to a month) as I felt we weren't spending as much time harvesting or learning about the wine as I'd liked. There were just way too many people WWOOFing, who I felt, weren't all that interested in winemaking particularly to begin with. Thus I decamped from the glamourous and comfy environs of the castello to another vineyard, which offered the more intimate learning experience that I was craving for. Still, I remain grateful for Charlotte for my first harvesting experience and some advice on wine books.
Last night for my mum's birthday, I bought my two WWOOF wines with me (we ate lamb if you were wondering). The birthday lady (mum) picked Potentino to start but of course didn't manage to get to the second bottle with me. Since I certainly wasn't going to drink my precious WWOOF wines by myself (!), I decide to save the other for a quiet NYE with the fam. Here is my first attempt at writing tasting notes after brief crash course courtesy of Wine Folly. I have to start somewhere somehow.
Since I probably won't manage a post before the New Year's, have a great start to 2016!
P.S. Still figuring out how to index/categorize/tag everything but I'll have a system worked out once there are a more blog posts.
Castello di Potentino, Sacromonte, 2011, I.G.T. Toscana
Region: Seggiano, Tuscany, Italy. Varietal: Sangiovese.
Berry, fruity, full bodied and not to heavy on the tannins