OWNER | Bertani Domains.
STAFF | Vineyard manager: David Landini (until 2015).
The history of Val di Suga began in 1969, when a company owned by Aldo Moro, who was twice Prime Minister of Italy (1963 to 1968, and 1974 to 1976) bought farmland to the north of Montalcino and built a production and sales unit. That land, used for producing fodder at the time, was gradually converted to vineyards and underwent several changes in ownership. In 1982 Val di Suga started to produce wine and created a winemaking cellar. The first vintage to be sold was the “Val di Suga Brunello Riserva 1977”. In 1994 Lionello Marchesi sold the estate to Gruppo Angelini (pharmaceuticals) whose agricultural holdings were grouped under the Tenimenti Angelini banner. In 2009 Tenimenti Angelini acquired Bertani, and Tenimenti Angelini’s wine holdings become grouped under the Bertani Domains banner. The Bertani team’s supervision was in place from the 2010 vintage here. The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino was the first vintage of Val di Suga for which Bertani Domains was responsible from pruning via harvesting, winemaking and ageing to bottling and selling the wine.
STAFF | Andrea Lonardi says ‘there is no single template for Sangiovese.’
VINEYARDS | Val di Suga comprises 51ha of vines (200,000 bottles) in Montalcino on both sides of the town and across three distinct vineyards in the three best zones and covering 98ha of land in total. The three vineyards are Vigna Spuntali on Montalcino’s south-west side, Poggio al Granchio on the south-east side, and Vigna del Lago on the north side.
COVER CROPS | Colza (oil seed rape) and alfalfa. Used to create vitality, and to keep the soil airy, which is seen as necessary for high quality Sangiovese.
MINERAL DEFICIENCIES | Any kind of mineral deficiency is seen as a big negative for quality Sangiovese.
CRU PROJECT | Cru project here started by Andrea Lonardi (operations director for Bertani Domains),’ I was told at the winery on 30th May 2014 with Ian D’Agata. Vineyards on three different slopes of the Montalcino hill country: to the north, the Val di Suga vineyard, spreading all around the wine cellar and including the well-known Vigna del Lago planting; to the southwest, the San Polo vineyard, the “youngest” planting; to the southeast in Sant’Angelo in Colle, the Spuntali vineyard.
VITICULTURE | ‘Pruning trials with Simonit and Sirch cordon speronato in a goblet form. In 2014 they began using a de-leafer at flowering to provoke a hormonal reaction to get grapes with more polyphenols. Does soleil levant side. Wants to go organic. Wants new canopy structure. Less direct sunlight on grapes. Better micro-climate in the cluster zone. Higher photosynthetic potential as more young leaves,’ at the winery on 30th May 2014 with Ian D’Agata.
HARVESTING | Spuntali is the first to ripen. Then Granchio, then Lago.
WINEMAKING | The main theme is to make wines which are more like infusions than blockbusters. Looking to get and retain a kind of floral freshness. For this the aim is to avoid any excess over-ripening. Each site is vinified slightly differently. But for all the wines the main them is that Sangiovese cold soaks for 2-3 days to get tannin, colour and soft tannins. Ferment at 25-30°C. Slow ferments. Extraction via pump overs. 26°C for colour. Then when 75% fermented the temperature can rise to up to 28°C max. Want roundness of fruit, no jagged edges. Full, plenty of tannin but ripe tannin: Montalcino is a hot zone, so can go easier on the ferment as do not need to force the tannins or colour out in the winery.
ROSSO DI MONTALCINO DOC, VAL DI SUGA | 2012 60,000 bottles. Garnet colour, faint, decent, sappy-savoury at Benvenuto Brunello 2014. / 2013 60,000 bottles. Sweet, maybe a bit of funk, fluffy at Benvenuto Brunello 2015. | 2014 Simple, primary cherry jelly drink, tannin a bit dry, but sapid at Benvenuto Brunello 2016.
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO DOCG, VAL DI SUGA | 2000 Dry and lacking texture at Benvenuto Brunello 18 Feb 2005. / 2006 Not tasted. / 2007 Not tasted. / 2008 Not tasted. / 2009 Sweet and tobacco-like, nice sweetness, not much structure and a bit warm but savoury and OK. Not a wine I would keep though at the winery on 30th May 2014 with Ian D’Agata.
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO DOCG, POGGIO AL GRANCHIO | This was acquired after the Poggio San Polo estate wsa sold. Val di Suga acquired the lower lying half of the vineyards, whilst the upper half was bought by the Allegrini family from the Veneto who kept the name. Size Poggio al Granchio comprises 19ha and is located in San Polo. Terroir It faces south-east towards Monte Amiata and overlooks Castelnuovo dell’Abate. The soil structure is described as galestro with a balance of sand and clay. The pH is between 6.10 to 6.20. Altitude Around 400-450m. This is the second of Val di Suga’s three single vineyard sites to ripen and thus be picked. Winemaking The wine is fermented at 28°C, upto a maximum of 32°C to get it to finish. It ages in a mix of oak: 50-60hl botti (and maybe some barrels). Wine style Andrea Lonardi says ‘on galestro, Sangiovese becomes mineral and sapid, with silky tannins; on the nose it has notes of ripe fruits of the undergrowth, combined with that unmistakable hint of flint that you can smell directly on the schist.’ I describe it as deep and spicy, intriguing, with deep but soft tannins and a deep colour. 2009 15,000 bottles. Nice sweet fruit rather than florality, richer than the basic Brunello at Benvenuto Brunello Feb 2014. / 2009 L14038. 15%. Bright light garnet all the way across. Rich ripe nose, currants/dried fruit. Impression of warmth. Very ripe palate. Real impression of sweetness and denseness to both fruit and oak allied to a somewhat confected effect from the oak, which adds a coconut element that jars slightly with the more classic/savoury grape flavours. Quite heavy finish, dense tannins which are sweet/ripe and sticky at the Consorzio Tues 30th May 2014 with Ian d’Agata and others. / 2009 Smooth, spicey, sexy, crowd-pleaser style at the winery on 30th May 2014 with Ian D’Agata. / 2009 Nice fluid ripe plum red fruit at Benvenuto Brunello 2015. / 2010 Much more fruit, flatteux, youthful and oak, bit fluffy vanilla, but sapid too at Benvenuto Brunello 2016. / 2013 Bertani Domains’ first vintage under their full guidance (see above).
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO DOCG, VIGNA DEL LAGO | Location The ‘Lake Vineyard’ is located north of Montalcino in the Canalicchio sub-zone in front of the winery. Size Vigna del Lago comprises 17ha of vines. Soil The soil is calcareous clay interspersed with friable shale. Altitude At 270-320 metres (feet) this is the lowest lying of the Val di Suga vineyards. Aspect My notes say it faces “north-east. pH6.7,’ I was told at the winery on 30th May 2014 with Ian D’Agata. Pocking The last of the group’s three vineyard sites to be picked. Winemaking David Landini told me that as Vigna del Lago gives a lighter, more perfumed (aromas of violets), more ‘Burgundian’ style thanks to the site and the type of clay soils here. It is fermented at around 26°C, to maximise these inherent characteristics, of being only moderately structured, and never a blockbuster. It ages in 60hl wooden vats. / 2009 10,000 bottles. Firmer tannin compared to the Spuntali 2009, with creamy grapes skin plus a bit of caramel and vanilla and little florality at Benvenuto Brunello 2014. / 2009 Get some of that clay freshness, very different tannic expression here. More vertical. He says he likes this best as it is more old style. Crunchy tannins when tasted at the winery on 30th May 2014 with Ian D’Agata. / 2009 15%. L14042. NHB. Bright light garnet all the way across. Open nose, not much in the way of aromatics, sense of ripeness and cedariness and concentration rather than mass. Entry is full, round, rich, ripe, and somewhat sherried from the oak. This gives an impression of weight when really the fruit was more inherently lithe. Nice combo when tasted at the Consorzio Tues 30th May 2014 with Ian d’Agata and others. / 2010 Quite evolved garnet colour, fruit needs time to flesh out at Benvenuto Brunello 2016. / 2013 Bertani Domains’ first vintage under their full guidance (see above)
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO DOCG, VIGNA SPUNTALI | Location Sant’Angelo in Colle. Size ‘14ha (1997/2001) + 3ha planted in 2014 (Guillaume and one other). Aspect South-west facing. Altitude 270m [315metres?]. Terroir Hot zone. Andrea Lonardi told me the soil here was ‘pietra forte, tufaceous’. Favino (beans) as a cover crop. pH5.8. Rootstocks: 100R mainly, 420A and SO4. Two: 1.5 x 0.90 for 7.5ha. Also 2.20 x 0.9. Old vines at 3m will be ripped up,’ I was told at the winery on 30th May 2014 with Ian D’Agata. Winemaking The first vineyard to be picked. The site gives a big wine, so there is no need to overdo the winemaking with hot or aggressive ferments. Spuntali ferments relatively cool, to encourage a slow end of fermention, to get the integration. It ages in French oak barrels and tonneaux. Wine style Andrea Lonardi told me ‘Spuntali produces a Brunello with a complex, spicey nose. On the palate it shows richness and depth with soft, round tannins and a creamy, almost chocolatey texture. The wine can age from 10 to 20 years.’ Someone else connected with the estate said ‘Spuntali is like a raging bull, and shows balsamic notes due to hot microclimate’. / 2009 15,000 bottles. Rich, menthol at Benvenuto Brunello 2014. / 2009 15%. L14041. Garnet middle with a watery-garnet rim. Broad open but not heavy nose, marked by vanilla, cedar and all spice. Sweet fruit/oak and savoury grape/oak tannins make for an interesting mix. Sweet fruit end with marked alcohol, then quite dense oak coming through. Needs time or patience or both at the Consorzio Tues 30th May 2014 with Ian d’Agata and others. / 2009 Spuntali: Ripe, full, again on the palate savoury-sweet cherries at the winery on 30th May 2014 with Ian D’Agata. / 2010 Bit raisined, needs a bit more flesh, starting to dry a little at Benvenuto Brunello 2015. / 2011 Bright garnet, deepest and ripest of the three in 2011, and most complex and interesting in terms of palate weight, silky-rich at Benvenuto Brunello 2016.
TOSCANA ROSSO, MOTUPROPRIO | See Motuproprio.
Val di Suga, Loc. Valdisuga, I-53024 Montalcino (SI = Siena), Italy / Tel+39 0577.804101 / www.valdisuga.it
Andrea Lonardi, ‘The Soul of Sangiovese Soils, presentation at Tenuta Trerose 14th Feb 2019.
Visit to the Valdisuga winery on 30th May 2014.
Walter Speller, ‘More 2009 Brunello, and some older wines’, www.jancisrobinson.com 31 March 2014.