Finding the right medicine in the vineyard
VERONA, Italy – One of the better habits one picks up at the massive wine fair that is VinItaly is learning to look past the many big producers and their show-stopping, two-story booths with starlets and politicians and exclusively formal atmosphere.
They’re not wrong, and for them it’s the right presentation. But there always is something more right around the corner.
And that’s where I found Claudio and Sylvia Monaci, sitting quietly, patiently waiting for whatever or whomever came next to their little booth, tucked away in the immense Tuscany pavilion, which is about double the size of the other pavilions.
The Monacis own and operate Cantina Piancornello, due south of Florence and 45 kilometers from the climate-controlling Mediteranean Sea, which they founded in 1991 after deciding they really wanted to be winemakers and bought an an existing vineyard.
Any life-changing experience can be traumatic but Claudio knew it would be more traumatic to ignore his heart’s calling.
“I was studying to be a doctor but I knew I wanted to make wine,” he said. Now, his Brunello di Montalcino consistently get high marks from customers and critics and he’s quite happy to be away from medicine and making a minimal-intervention wine.
“I’m trying to do something good for my family and good for the grapes,” he said. Actually, Sylvia said this, as she was translating Claudio’s words for the sake of a visitor.
They were pouring their latest vintages – 2008 and 2009 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, 2012 Rosso di Montalcino, 2013 Campo della Macchia and the 2011 Podere del Visciolo – and when asked, started talking about aging wines. More accurately, about how many people do not age their wines.
“This one,” said Claudio, holding the 2008 Brunello di Montalcino, “is drinking very nicely but still a baby. It may last for 15-20 years. But no one wants to wait that long.”
For the impatient, the Monacis produce their Rosso di Montalcino and their Campo della Macchia IGT, wines ready to drink almost as soon as it’s relesed.
“But please, wait, maybe at least an hour, after opening it,” said Claudio. “It will be much better.”
Sylvia laughed and noted how different were even the 2008 and 2009 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG.
“It’s very different, what can come from the same vineyard,” she mused. “Like children from the same parents.These are our children, and they are very different.”