LA MAGIA is an organic estate winery in the Montalcino region of Tuscany, Italy. La Magia was founded in 1974, when its original owners planted the vineyard. In 1979 the founder owners sold to Harald Schwarz and his wife Gabriella Zeitler, and Harald Schwarz’s father. They left Merano in their native Südtirol Alto Adige to settle here. At that time, in Montalcino, there were around 150 grape growers, but only 20 were bottling their own wine. The Schwarz family knew nothing about winemaking, but loved Montalcino as a place and saw its only partially tapped potential for Brunello. Fabian Schwarz told me ‘Brunello already was a niche wine in Italy, but not just Italy. It was also a niche internationally. In the big wine markets at that time, like the UK market, or the German market, Brunello was considered one of the quality wines of Italy. There was Brunello, Barolo, and Amarone. That was it. Chianti was not, at that time, considered a quality wine.’
FABIAN SCHWARZ / Harald and Gabriella’s son Fabian Schwarz started working at La Magia in 2005 and took full charge in 2011. (From 2004-2008 Roberto Cipresso had consulted.). Fabian studied in the Südtirol, becoming a viticulture and winemaking graduate of the Istituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige, now the Edmund Mach Foundation.
THE NAME / La Magia–which can also be written La Màgia–is situated on an old paved Roman road dating back to the Etruscan era. The name is a derivation of ‘magione’, a Tuscan rendition of the French ‘maison’, since the building was originally a resting place for wayfarers and pilgrims visiting the nearby abbey of Sant’Antimo.
VINEYARDS / The La Magia property covers a total of 52ha (130 acres), of which 15 hectares (37 acres) are Sangiovese in a single plot. All the vines are classified as Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. The vineyard overlooks the Sant’Antimo abbey from the north and faces south towards Mount Amiata. The altitude of between 400-500 metres (1,480-1,640 feet) means the vineyard is not subject to spring frosts (eg. in 2017) and gets a wide day-night temperature excursion (good for aromas, and wines with moderate rather then super deep colours). The site is sloping, which allows constant air-flow and ventilation, and gets sunlight all day long. The top soil comprises 20 centimetres of very stony soil, mixed with lime and clay, the latter helping to retain moisture in the subsoil and allows nutrient uptake even during periods of drought, and a bit of sand. Underneath is galestro and clay, and the clay holds water in dry persiods.
MOUNT AMIATA’S INFLUENCE / Monte Amiata Fabian Schwarz told me ‘Mount Amiata does not have big effect on the air temperature, which is so important, but on the winds. We have a lot of air and breezes drawn in from the Mediterranean to the west by the mountain, so we are well-ventilated. Obviously Montalcino is high, so the good thing is that in summer, or during the maturation period, you have big differences between night and day. Also you can have very hot, sunny days during the summer, and it is possible to sleep without air conditioning in Montalcino. During those conditions it’s perfect weather. Night-day temperature differences greatly affect the maturation of the phenolic substances which are inside the grapes. What we are extracting from the grapes, on the skins, it’s very good phenolic stuff. Very good colors, very good tannins which are complex, so the wines have a good structure, good tannins, smooth tannins. That’s why Sangiovese in Montalcino is unique. It’s one aspect why I find Montalcino gives the best expression of Sangiovese.’
CERTIFICATION / 2012 Full organic certification from the 2012 vintage. / 2018 Still certified organic.
WINERY Harald Schwarz designed the winery, giving it an octagonal shape to make it easier to reach the vats (many of which are wooden). A photovoltaic system was installed 2008. It generates 20kw, making the cellar self-sufficient in electrical power.
WINEMAKING / The wines ferment 70% in stainless steel, 30% in wooden vats. Fabian likes to keep a large percentage of whole berries, which gives wines with perfume and to achieve this he favours more gentle and thus longer macerations [leaving the young wine on the grape skins] of around 45 days for Brunello (less for Rosso). Fermentation can go up to 30-32 degrees. MLF occurs directly after alcoholic fermentation, which avoids issues with acetic acid bacteria. For the Brunello he works with 500 litre barrels (tonneaux).
ROSATO, ECO / Bled style. Juice cold soaked on skins then run off for fermentation.
ROSSO DI MONTALCINO DOC, LA MAGIA / 2011 At the consorzio with Ian d’Agata Tuesday 28th May 2013: Bright, medium+ crimson. Broad nose, youthful; full, quite extracted fruit over savoury tannins; mint and cranberry freshness at the end over firm tannins that have enough fruity flesh. Will be interesting to see how this ages. / 2012 15,000 bottles. 9 months in wood: 60% in tonneaux and 40% in 40-60hl botti. Very nice clear fruit, savoury ripe red fruit at Benvenuto Brunello Feb 2014. / 2013 25,000 bottles. Palid colour, a bit reduced but once open really delicious and delicate fruit, very individual style at Benvenuto Brunello Feb 2015. / 2014 Cold soak for 3-4 days for to accentuate aromas. Ferments at 25ºC for 2-3 weeks like “an infusion.” 6m in old barrels. Distinctive, savoury and refreshing at Benvenuto Brunello Feb 2016.
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO DOCG, LA MAGIA / About 40,000 bottles. 30m in 500 litre barrels. The “selection” range has artists’ labels each year. / 2009 24,000 bottles. Wild, quite feminine, bit too much oak toffee in there at Benvenuto 2014. / 2009 14.5%. L1/14. Decent and bright and well weighted although the tannins are a little fluffy at the Consorzio Tues 27th May 2014 with Ian d’Agata and others. L1/14 Bottle tried at Armando’s on Sergio’s 2nd birthday party in Oct 2016: very youthful, quite a bit of new oak. Took a couple of days to open and soften but still very young. / 2010 30,00 bottles. Very interesting in terms of weight, sweet fruit but very light yet intense cherries, really good length too, bright and creamy at Benvenuto Brunello Feb 2015. / 2011 Old vines. 36m in 500-litre tonneaux of which 33% new. Lovely wild fruit, ripe and delicate at Benvenuto Brunello Feb 2016.
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO DOCG, CILIEGO / 2011 500 bottles. Natural low yield. Poor soil. Barrel selection. Lovely bright colour, outstanding fruit and depth and Sangiovesiness at Benvenuto Brunello 2016. / 2012 512 bottles. Very nice ripeness of fruit, really clear, bright, refreshing, savoury at Benvenuto Brunello 17th Feb 2017.
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO DOCG RISERVA, LA MAGIA / 2010 Quite tight red fruit, very fruity, delicate & deep, very integrated oak too at Benvenuto 2016.
OTHER PRODUCTS / Grappa di Brunello di Montalcino. / Extra virgin olive oil.
Azienda Agricola La Magia, Località La Magia, 53 / I-53024 Montalcino (SI = Siena), Italy / +39 0577.835667 / fattorialamagia.it