Scansano was renowned for its wine as long ago as the early 1800s when the Napoleonic army decided to make a garrison there for the troops marching to Rome, which was then governed by the Vatican.
The coasts and plains were so badly affected by malaria that for almost a hundred years all public structures were transferred to Grosseto during the summer; but at 500m above sea level Scansano was unaffected by the disease and the village became the summer capital of Maremma. Some of the officers, who knew as much about winemaking as they did about arms, realized how suitable this area was for winegrowing and for the first time the local products were catalogued. In 1818 the total wine production was 5,000hl, 500 of which were reserved: truly remarkable figures for the period.
The grenache variety was planted here, also known as "tinto di Spagna" or "Alicante" due to the Spanish-owned lands along the coasts: this is the same as the "garnacha" variety grown in Catalonia, in Languedoc to make Chateauneuf du Pape and in Sardinia to make Cannonau; other varieties planted here were syrah, the nero francese or gamay, used to make Beaujolais, and cabernet, which is still (although rarely) found in old vineyards, known as "bordò" to older farmers.
The sangiovese grape which in Scansano is called "Morellino" had been found in this area for some time but it came into its own during the alongside the new winegrowing boom, to the extent that Barone Ricasoli - who hunted in this area - remarked on the quality of the Maremman vines. When the specifications for Chianti wine were drawn up he wanted Scansano grafts on the rootstocks to invigorate the vineyards of the more noble Chianti farms.
In those days vineyards were planted at a very high density (over 10,000 plants per hectare) with the "dense and low" system. At the end of the century there were 500 hectares of vineyards while exactly one hundred years later, in the early 1990s, there were barely 300. The phylloxera disease decimated European vineyards, and war and lack of interest resulted in a severe recession for winegrowing in Maremma. But thanks to the agricultural reform of the 1950s, the rows of vines that for over half a century had been used to divide up the fields rather than to make wine once again played a leading role in Maremma's farming economy.
Farming was mechanised, to enrich industry, and the vineyards were consequently planted at a density of 2,224 plants per hectare; but because in those days grapes were worth little, the farmers were forced to choose the more generous varieties like the black ciliegiolo or the white trebbiano, allowing them to obtain over 300 quintals (per hectare) and this is still the case in our area.This choice enabled them to live on the fruits of their labour, as dictated by the markets and the obtuse cooperative policies which no-one dared or wanted to oppose.
In 1994 I moved the winery to a property in Scansano and in 1998 I was able to begin making the necessary agricultural improvements which concluded with replanting the vineyards and extension of the new cellars. The planting density was increased to 4,200-5,000 plants per hectare since the land was so suitable; we use the vertical trellis training system, in accordance with Tuscan tradition, and the simple Guyot pruning method. Our vineyards have all wooden posts, and all treatments are only in relation to weather conditions and according to the European Community rules of the law 788, our production may be considered biological.
Because I wanted the grapes to ripen naturally, I decided not to use any irrigation method, not even for "emergencies". The microclimate is influenced by the proximity to the sea, making the temperatures milder, and the mountains, which give a little rain in summer - so the grapes ripen early and the harvest begins in early September - it is strictly manual, to preserve the integrity of the fruit until it reaches the cellars.
Sangiovese is our main grape variety (80%) in the new vineyards, and in order to make the most of the quality we selected 4 different clones. The other main varieties are grenache, which has always been grown here, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, which together account for 10%. The rootstock for all the vineyards is 1103 pause or SO4.
For the sake of excitement (or as our more serious colleagues might say, experimentation) I have planted lesser known varieties in a nearby property, Poggio Maestrino: syrah, petit verdot, mouvèdre and zinfandel, better known here as primitivo.
The location and structure of our newly-extended winery will make it an important reference point for the town of Scansano and the "new" Maremma winemaking tradition.
All the fermentation procedures are carried out at controlled temperatures in order to obtain the best possible extraction of polyphenolic substances. All the rooms are kept at a constant temperature and humidity level to allow the wines to age in the best possible conditions in the barrel cellars and in the other areas, where they are kept both in stainless steel and in bottles ready for shipment. Bottling is carried out exclusively by our own personnel using a sophisticated sterile system which guarantees maximum hygiene. To save energy we have installed a photovoltaic system.