TUSCANY - ITALY
“Elisabetta Fagiuoli is the living metaphor of her land, and she greets you, as the land welcomes you, with a smile that testifies to her joy in extending you hospitality. She shares with you her vision of the world, and impresses you with the same quiet strength that millennial culture of winemaking possesses. And you accept her for the elegance of her eloquence and gestures.”
- Luigi Veronelli
Everything about Elisabetta radiates poetry, a deep sense of tradition and spiritual feeling for the land. The land is in her blood, thanks to her family, who cultivated vines and olive trees in Custozza, not far from Verona, since the 1700s, and also thanks to her childhood, spent wandering the vineyards of Valpolicella.
Montenidoli is the hill of the little nests; higher up the slopes are the Triassic terrains, the oldest in Tuscany, rich with minerals for the red wines, whilst further down are Quaternary terrains on the slopes, where the calcareous sediments left by the Ligurian Sea feed the white wines and enrich their perfumes. The Etruscans were the first to discover this treasure and plant their vines, followed by the Romans and the Knights Templar. Elisabetta and family arrived in 1965 to see how they could capture the wonderful potential of the terroir.
Montenidoli’s vineyards are organically grown. For fifty years no herbicide, insecticides or any other chemicals have been used. This is a microclimate brimming with life. The vineyards are aglow with fireflies by night and dancing with ladybugs by day. “We began to break up the clods of earth and make hummus, raising earthworms and also rabbits, for their precious manure. Now, we leave the hoeing to the roots of plants we sow in the vineyards, and till under each spring”. Sulphur and copper are the only substances used to treat infection. And only if absolutely necessary, because sunlight and clean air are perceived to be the best medicine to make the vines healthy, strong, and resistant to disease and bad weather.
Work in the vineyard is vigorous and vines are monitored from the time the first buds appear in the spring, whereupon a preliminary selection of bunches is made. Before the invaiatura (or veraison) the grape bunches are checked. Grapes tend to reach optimal maturity between the end of September and the first week of October. The harvest is by hand, with an initial selection of bunches, which are laid flat in small baskets for their trip to the winery. The bunches destined to go into the various wines are divided up, de-stemmed, and set to macerate in chilled tanks. Only the white grapes destined to become Vernaccia Tradizionale are pressed and following the old tradition the must macerates at length with the skins and is pressed as soon as the fermentation begins, to extract the flavour of the terroir.