A second life for Luce della Vite
In Montalcino a new winery is being born, Luce della Vite: the christening is set for autumn. But hold on! Wasn’t Luce della Vite set up in 1995 in partnership between the Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi? Of course, and in 2006, when Mondavi was taken over by the Constellation Brands group, it became part of the Tenute di Toscana company, controlled by Frescobaldi. But now, for the first time in its 22 years of existence, it is starting a second life as an independent winery, still owned by Frescobaldi but run by its own technical staff and with a cellar still under construction. It will be officially “christened” after the harvest, in order to allow the work to be completed.
Stefano Ruini is the new Technical Director
It was Lamberto Frescobaldi who announced the news of this rebirth; he has been a key player in the history of this winery right from day one and he made the announcement in Milan, at the Casa degli Atellani, which has a strong symbolic value: the garden is the site of Leonardo’s historic vineyard. During the vertical tasting of some vintages of Luce, the estate’s most important wine, half Sangiovese-half Merlot, he presented the new Technical Director, Stefano Ruini: a winemaker who graduated in Piacenza, where he was a pupil of Mario Fregoni, then he worked for over twenty years in Bordeaux at important Châteaux in Médoc. His C.V. seems to be created especially for a person who must marry Merlot with Sangiovese to express the terroir of Montalcino.
A stroke of luck
Frescobaldi has also been lucky with the cellar of Luce della Vite. The plans were all ready and they had chosen a suitable site to build it. However, they delayed starting the work when they felt that the owner of the young neighbouring winery, Logonovo, worried about the commitment it required, might decide to abandon the winemaking activity, which he had started before the crisis began to bite. They were right: last year 55 hectares of that winery, 11 of which planted with vineyards, were bought by the Frescobaldi family for over 11.5 million euros. And together with the land and vineyards, the ambitious cellar that Logonovo had nearly finished building also came into their hands.
Luce della Vite in the cellar (underground)
It is an underground cellar, built in the strictest respect of the environment and designed to reduce consumption to a minimum, therefore totally consistent with the running of Luce della Vite, which uses natural farming techniques in its vineyards, organic substances and sustainable agriculture methods. It is an organic winery but keeps this fact low key, meaning that they are not bothered whether people know about it. But Lamberto Frescobaldi lets slip that attention towards the environment is a real commitment when he says, “The thing that I liked most about buying this ready-made cellar is that I didn’t have to open a wound in the Montalcino landscape by building a new one.”
Photo: Alessandro Castiglioni