Just as harvest started to kick off, Alan and I ventured out to Tuscany in Italy to host the Murano and Limewood teams at Tenuta Fertuna in the Tuscan Maremma and Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona in Montalcino. Catching the last of the Italian summer sun and surrounded by bountiful grape-laden vineyards, it was the perfect opportunity to receive a 2022 harvest update and garner more information on the long-term (sustainability) plans from both wineries. Fertuna and Ciacci have both placed a big focus on sustainability, which is particularly pertinent following the hot temperatures experienced throughout Europe this summer.

After arriving into the heart of the Tuscan Maremma, the Fertuna team hosted us at their beautifully demure Tuscan villa, right next to the winery near Gavaronno. After a quick refresh we hotfooted it to the coast, in an effort to get to the coast for sundowners. The sun didn’t hang around but we did manage one team photo at the Califelice restaurant, a simply beautiful exclusive beach bar where we were hosted to an array of local fish specialities and of course Tenuta Fertuna wines. My particular favourite the new Droppello Alto, 100% certified organic, blanc de noir from Sangiovese, that is aged on the lees for 12 months.

The next morning we had an early morning wake up to walk up to the top of the vineyards and enjoy a spectacular view over the Fertuna vineyards and landscape, lead by winemaker Paolo Rivella. Sustainability has been an important focus for the estate in recent years with their conversion to organics and certified from the 2020 vintage. This year they are investing 300,000€ creating a second lake on their property. The lake’s purpose will be to minimise water shortages; they strive to become water self reliant in their winery as well with water waste management systems. To combat climate change they are now pruning less so that the foliage cover can shade and protect the grapes from the sun, while also using certain soil techniques and covers to help retain water in the soil.

After a long time in the sun, we sought the shade and coolness in the tasting room where we tasted new blends for the Angela Hartnett own label white and red.

The next stop on the trip was to visit Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona in the rolling hills of Montalcino. As of this 2022 harvest the Ciacci estate will be certified organic. As part of this sustainability project, Ciacci have started to work the soil in certain vineyards with shire horses, which has less impact and compaction on the soil. On a visit to Ciacci, you are now able to book onto a horse drawn carriage tour through the vineyards. What an experience we had passing through the vineyards so closely and witnessing the change in soils from one vineyard to the next. We passed by a few of their five lakes that they are lucky to have on their estate (nowadays it is almost impossible to have permission to dig a lake in Montalcino), and also the nearby Orcia river that somewhat protects their famous Pianrosso vineyard in particular from water shortage.

Just before dinner in Montalcino that night we visited the brand new Tempio del Brunello, a temple dedicated to the King of Italian wines! Within this unique museum participants can take part in an interactive trip over vineyards in a 350 degree virtual reality. We were also given the opportunity to learn and understand more about this historic wine growing region within the museum, which is impressively curated. Dinner with Paolo and Alex Bianchini was like being among family as always and with Nicoletta as well, we were treated to many delicious Brunellos but the highlight for me was the 2006 Brunello Pianrosso Riserva, simply sublime.