Pian dell’Orino is a Demeter-certified Biodynamic estate winery in the Montalcino region of Tuscany, Italy. The estate is also also a member of Renaissance des Appellations. The wines made here, both reds, are Rosso di Montalcino DOC and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG.
Owners: Caroline Pobitzer and Jan H Erbach. Caroline Pobitzer grew up in Helsingborgs, Sweden (her mother is Swedish). Caroline’s father is from Süd-Tirol (Alto Adige) and worked in wine. Jan Erbach who was 46 in Feb 2011, is German and studied viticulture at Geisenheim between 1991-1995. His thesis was controlling the cochylis (Eupoecilia ambiguella), eudemis (Lobesia botrana) and eulia (Argyrotaenia pulchellana) grape moths using organic methods (such a neem oil) and the (negative) impact such treatments may have on beneficial (predator) mites.
Organics & Biodynamics: Organic methods were adopted by Jan and Caroline as soon as they took over here. ‘The wines which most impressed me were always the organic ones,’ Jan Erbach told me, adding that ‘organic certification also defines a clear standard to work to or go beyond. What appeals to me about Biodynamics is you get closer to natural rhythms. One year you might have a problem with wasps, but the following year you might not see a single wasp in the vineyard. I think understanding this chronobiology exists is important. The first person whose writings seemed to me to understand this was Rudolf Steiner, who developed biodynamics.’ Jan bought his first biodynamic preparations from François Bouchet in 2003 but after the latter’s death not long afterwards Erbach ultimately decided to work on his own rather than with Francois Bouchet’s son and successor, Mathieu. Jan told me that after disease-heavy years he seeks, via compost or microbial sprays, to ‘create a diversity of active life to prevent non-beneficial spores climbing back up on the vines and reappearing in 2019,’ he said (29 Sept 2018).
Vineyards–Pian Bossolino: A vineyard situated at 390 m above sea level. Used in the Bossolino di Sopra Brunello (below). The geological formation of this soil dates back to the Cretaceous period. This vineyard is characterized by the “Santa Fiora” formation, called also “Alberese”. It is calcareous (marl) with a very high content of calcium. The mix of gravel, sand and clay forms a brittle soil rich in rock fragments. Its origins go back to the geologic uplift between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods.
Cover crops: Shallow-rooting cover crops only for young vines. In plots with vigorous vines the cover crop mix will not include (nitrogen-fixing) legumes so as to avoid encouraging excess vine vigour. Instead, legumes are sown to encourage plots whose vines show too little vigour.
Shoot positioning: Jan Erbach told me he is trying to shoot position in such a way as to get grape bunches to grow on the side of the vine row which gets the morning sun, rather than much hotter full afternoon sun.
Biodynamic certification: 2004 First vintage with full organic certification. | 2007 4ha of certified organic vines plus 1ha (C2) and 1ha (C1) | 2008 6ha of certified organic vineyards. | 2018 Certified Biodynamic by Demeter Italia. | 2019 Member of renaissance des Appellations.
Pian Bossolino: A vineyard situated at 390 m above sea level. Used in the Bossolino di Sopra Brunello (below). The geological formation of this soil dates back to the Cretaceous period. This vineyard is characterized by the “Santa Fiora” formation, called also “Alberese”. It is calcareous (marl) with a very high content of calcium. The mix of gravel, sand and clay forms a brittle soil rich in rock fragments. Its origins go back to the geologic uplift between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods.
Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Pian dell’Orino: 2008 8,500 bottles. Grapes mainly from the winery vineyard with a bit from Scopeta. Fermented in stainless steel. Aged in 25 hl wooden vats. Lovely ripe, pure and refreshing, very Burgundian, fantastic sweetness to the fruit, limpid, integrated alcohol, balanced and smooth (Visit, Feb 2011). | 2009 Made from vines in Pian Bossolino and the small vineyard by to the winery. 18 months in oak. | 2013 Ripe, clear, clean menthol nose, not over-ripe, very fresh, youthful and delicious (At Osticcio in Montalcino with Susan Hulme MW 19 Feb 2016). | 2014 13%. Very happy in its skin, ripe, clear, clean, balanced, effortless texture, ‘brillante’ with Susan Hulme MW at Osticcio in Montalcino mid-afternoon Friday 19th February 2016. Bright, broad savoury fruit tasted (At Osticcio, 16 Feb 2018 with Michaela Morris MS).
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Pian dell’Orino: 2000 Clean, clear light style, harmonious (Brunello 2005). | 2001 Pigeage used for the first and only time. Very good year, but hard tannin. | 2004 Exists. | 2005 Exists. | 2006 Fermented half in stainless steel and half in wooden vats. Remontage and délestage. The initial blend was made from Cancello Rosso and Pian Bossolino after alcoholic fermentation had finished but before malolactic fermentation had commenced. Aged in four 25 hl vats. Deep, ripe, black (Visit, Feb 2011). €42 retail in 2011. 12,000 bottles. | 2007 12,000 bottles. Jan Erbach told me 2007 was the first Brunello in which I felt our wine exhibited precise and clear fruit expression allied to salinity on the mid-palate. It has good inner tension, a saltiness, an impression of lightness but also depth,’ he told me. | 2008 9,800 bottles. Ripe, tight, sticky red fruit with nice underlying denseness (tasted at the winery…?) | 2009 14.21%. Very good at dinner with Caroline and Jan, Friday 17th Jan 2014. | 2010 Jan Erbach told me ‘spring 2010 was tough with wet weather creating high pressure from peronospera (also called downy mildew). In this sense it was like 2008, and so having already had that experience we learned from it in terms of better timing of spray applications, by getting in to spray early in spring and to be able to do this by having a cover crop in the mid-row to make access easier for the sprayer and also by laying the winter prunings on the ground too to ease access and reduce compaction. The 2010 Brunello will probably come from from Cancello Rosso and Pian Bossolino, and possibly as two vineyard-designate wines.’ | 2011 A hot vintage. | 2012 Jan Erbach told me the heat meant yields were down by 45% but he felt that his vines had already begun adapting to climate changes. ‘The vines were in some way closed you could say, they did not grow as big as normal [shorter shoots, smaller leaves]. So even though 2012 gave concentrated wines I am not so sure the wines will also have the depth one might expect from such a hot, dry growing season.’
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Bossolino di Sopra: The grapes for this wine come from the Pian Bossolino vineyard described above.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Pian dell’Orino: 2004 Bottled. | 2006 Bottled.
Loc. Pian dell’Orino, 189
I-53024 Montalcino (SI = Siena), Italy
Tel+39 0577.849301 | www.piandellorino.it
Visit to the estate, Thursday morning, 24 Feb 2011.
2007 12,000 bottles. Jan Erbach told me 2007 ‘brought a hot summer which was saved by rain in July.
2008 Jan Erbach told me ‘it rained a lot in spring 2008, causing downy mildew pressure, and it was a problem getting the first treatment on the vineyard. Very good September and October, cool and hot but sunny.’