I Balzini is a classic example of a Tuscan farming business that has grown up around an old farmhouse. The 10-hectare estate includes vineyards and olive groves. The main vineyard is in front of the house, with another plot situated a few kilometres away. There are also lovely woods and a small lake. The new winery is built partly underground so as not to spoil the surrounding landscape which is dotted with some of Tuscany's most celebrated hill-top hamlets. Thanks to its unique position the farm enjoys lingering sunsets over the vineyards, just one of its unforgettable features.
The farm is in the heart of central Tuscany, on the borders of the provinces of Florence and Siena, in a magnificent countryside with many important historic sites such as the former castle of Semifonte. A major spurt of growth in 1181 saw the castle transformed into a hamlet surrounded by 3-km-long walls. This was the period of the Communes and Florence disapproved of this last bulwark of feudal power supported by a Germanic emperors combating the development of communal independence. In 1202 Florence laid siege to the town then razed it to the ground. To ensure that every trace was destroyed an edict was issued banning construction on the hill which remained in force for the next three centuries. It was not until the end of the 16th century that the canon of Santa Maria del Fiore, Giovan Battista Capponi, obtained permission to build a small chapel in memory of the siege victims on the site where the little town of Semifonte once flourished.
The octagonal chapel, a scale copy of Brunelleschi's Florentine dome, still looms over the surrounding countryside today. Legend has it that during the siege, the Florentine soldiers quenched their thirst with the local wine confirming that the area was long renowned for its wine-making. It is in this extraordinary terroir that the I Balzini wines come into being.
The estate covers over 10 hectares, 5.4 of which vineyards. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have been planted in the land in front of the house which consists of sedimentary soil of Pliocene origin. This land is characterised by silty yellow sand layered with clay, or tuffaceous strata, containing large amounts of marine fossils.
Sangiovese was planted in an Ecocene soil produced by the disaggregation of a local rock known as "alberese" which provides the ideal growing conditions for this Tuscan varietal.
The name "I Balzini" comes from the word "balze", the local name for the small terraces planted with vines.
The microclimate is characterised by considerable temperature swings between the day and the night, which increase during the harvest period. The vineyards are 250 metres above sea-level and face south-east. The rows run north-south to provide maximum and even exposure to the sunlight.
The three wines produced by I Balzini are the fruit of carefully selected vines and clones best suited to the farm's vineyards. They also express Antonella and Vincenzo D'Isanto's intent to never produce banal wines following the latest fad. Each of the three wines, all born about a decade from each other, is the strongly desired result of a profound reflection intended to give the consumers a unique, unrepeatable product expressing three different ways of experiencing and interpreting the Tuscan countryside.