Azienda Agricola Fattoria La Vialla is a mixed Biodynamic farm and estate vineyard in Tuscany near Arezzo in the Chianti DOCG region of Colli Aretini DOCG (in Arezzo province). Piero Lo Franco was among Tuscany’s modern organic pioneers and subsequently the family converted to Biodynamics. They now also make wines from other Italian regions eg Sicily (‘Sicilia’) under the Terre Siciliane denomination. Piero Lo Franco started by trying to sell the family’s produce in Tuscany, and then across Italy. He had much more success with eco-aware German, Dutch and Belgian guests who came to stay in the estate’s farmhouses which had been restored for ‘agriturismo’. In the early days Gianni and Antonio Lo Franco would also drive the produce direct to southern Germans in Munich and Stuttgart. Now all this is done via mail order.
Owners: The Lo Franco family: Brothers Gianni, Antonio and Bandino. Their father Piero Lo Franco, who was a textile entrepreneur, and his wife Giuliana bought what was then a run-down country house so their three sons could to be close to nature in the holidays.
Terroir: 300-400 metres. The soils are quite varied: they range from level land with a prevalence of loamy sand and with a little clay structure, to those on the hillside with a greater structural and largely mineral presence, dedicated to vines and olive trees (galestro, with some hills are also very rich in minerals such as manganese, soils with good “scheletro” structure).
Vineyards, Biodiversity: 2010 The La Vialla estate comprises a total of 1,350 hectares (3,334 acres). There are 190 hectares (469 acres) of vineyards, 14,000 olive trees, 1,250 sheep, 800 chickens of the Valdernese species and about 10 horses. There are also over 200 hectares (494 acres) of arable land and pastures. The remaining 730 hectares (1,803 acres) of land is woodland: turkey oak, holm oak, sweet chestnut and pine trees. The forest provides firewood and stakes (poles) for the enterprise’s needs. | 2018 All of their vineyards (which in addition to the 120 ha at the home base in Tuscany also now includes 240 ha in other regions – San Gimignano, Maremma, Oltrepò Pavese, Marche, Puglia and Sicily) are biodynamic – as indeed are all their other farming activities.
Other crops apart from wine include olives and olive oil (30,000 trees); cereals, pasta and bread (baked in wooden ovens using wood from their own forests); 1,300 sheep whose Pecorino cheese is rubbed in the residues from the olive press; chickens, eggs, biscuits, cakes;honey, from around 100 hives in the forest; fruits and vegetables, some of which are bottled as preserves or sauces.
Biodynamics:Founder Piero Lo Franco valued the idea of self-sufficiency and gravitated to Biodynamics. The family worked with the French biodynamic pioneer François Bouchet (d. 2005). 2010 | In 2010 La Vialla said ‘it uses biodynamic methods across its entire estate. La Vialla has no cows. Cow manure for compost and for the Horn Manure 500 field spray preparation is sourced from neighbouring organic farms with whom La Vialla has close collaborative arrangements. La Vialla buries about 600 horns got Horn Manure 500 every year. The Horn Silica 501 preparation is purchased. There are five independent spray units allowing the whole estate to be sprayed in a working week.’ 2018 The family buried 1,800 cow horns in 2018 to make horn manure 500.
Certification 1983-1992: Member of CTPB (the Tuscan Organic Producers Association). | 1993 Certified organic by AIAB-ICEA. | 2006 Fully certified organic and with part of the estate certified biodynamic by Demeter for the first time. | 2011 490 hectares (1,210 acres) of Demeter certified Biodynamic crops: 115 hectares (284 acres) of olive trees, 190 hectares (469 acres) of vines, and 185 hectares (457 acres) of arable land and pasture.
Energy: The estate has its own phyto-purification plant and solar farm, and is carbon neutral.
Product range: Wine (still white, red, and rosé wines, plus Vin Santo, and sparkling wines), Vin Santo, olives for oil (have their own mill), pecorino cheese, flour, biscuits, preserves, sauces, jams and honey. Everything taking place directly in its own laboratories or in third party laboratories. Furthermore, it produces pasta made from organically grown durum wheat and spelt, with a surface area consistently invested in grains which vary annually based on crop rotation.
Valdichiana Brut, Le Chiassaie: 2012 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 20% Verdicchio. Well made sparkling wine tasted blind at Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) 29th April 2013.
Lo Chiffon Spumante: 2015 Unfiltered, slight cloudiness from sedimnet. 40% each of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, 20% Trebbiano.
Cuvée No. 2: 2012 Traditional-method fizz. From Pinot Nero grown in Otrepò Pavese. Aged 41 months on its lees;. Bottled both with and without lees.
Valdichiana Bianco: 2011 70% Trebbiano, 20% Malvasia, 10% Chardonnay. Unoaked. Upto £7.99. Clean citrus, good typicity, nice pear drops, citric palate-cleanser. Commended at DWWA 2nd May 2013.
Toscana Bianco IGT, Barricato Bianco: A Chardonnay and Malvasia blend to 2014. | 2015 Chardonnay, Viognier. Fermented in 500-l barrels. Lees stirred.
Toscana Bianco IGT, Torbolino: 2012 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% each Trebbiano & Chardonnay. Up to £7.99. Points. Bronze at DWWA 29th April 2013. | 2016 Vino Bianco da Tavola Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Traminer. Made in a filtered and unfiltered version.
Chianti DOCG Riserva, Casa Conforto: 2010 80% Sangiovese, 10% each Cabernet Sauvignon & Canaiolo. £8-14.99. Clean blackcurrant nose, youthful tannin, nice raspberry fruit on palate. Bronze at DWWA 2nd May 2013. | 2012 80% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Trebbiano. Oaked. Ripe, roasted berries, quite openknit. Commended at DWWA 2nd May 2013. | 2015 1100% Sangiovese. 13.5% alc.
Chianti DOCG Superiore Riserva, Casa Conforto: 2013 80% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo (aged in large Slavonian oak) with 10% Cabernet (aged in barriques). | 2015 90% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo.
Chianti DOCG Riserva, Casa Conforto: 2015 80% Sangiovese, 10% Canaille (aged in large Slavonian oak) with 10% Cabernet (aged in barriques). Tasted in NYC June 2019.
Montecucco Bianco, Lecciomoro: 2015 90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot.
Toscana Rosso IGT, Barriccato: 2010 80% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. £8-14.99. Rich, ripe fruit plus oak nose, with some menthol. Rich palate, elegant finish. Silver at DWWA 1st May 2013.
Toscana Rosso IGT, Sangiovese: 2017 100% Sangiovese.
Toscana Rosso IGT, Casal Duro: 2009 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot. £8-14.99. Attractive flat red fruit aromas, lots of extract on the palate but the fruit has plenty of lift, but rather youthful still so plenty still to give. Silver at DWWA 1st May 2013.
Toscana Rosso IGT, Podere La Casotta: 2013 30% Pugnitello, 30% Malvasia Nera, 20% Aleatico, 10% each Colorino and Sangiovese. The Pugnitello and Colorino are fermented normally, then mixed with the other varieties after up to three months’ passito drying. Further fermentation follows, followed by 18 months in mostly old barriques, six months after blending in concrete, then a further year in bottle.
Sweet white wines
Terre Siciliane IGT Moscato Passito: 2017 100% Moscato. 13.5% alc. Residual sugar (g/l) 116. Organic.
Vin Santo: 70% Malvasia and 30% Trebbiano,
Vin Santo del Chianti DOC Occhio di Pernice: 2008 80% Sangiovese, 20% Trebbiano. 190g/l residual sugar. Mahogany colour. Flattish nose like an oloroso or an aged amontillado, very sweet crowdpleasing palate. Bronze at DWWA 2nd May 2013. | 2010 80% Sangiovese, 20% Trebbiano. Dried between harvest and Christmas. Fermented, and aged 36 months in 7-litre caratelli.
Vin Santo del Chianti DOC Occhio di Pernice Riserva: 2009 90% Sangiovese, 10% Malvasia.
Azienda Agricola Fattoria La Vialla
Via di Meliciano, 26
I-52029 Castiglion Fibocchi (AR = Arezzo), Italy
Tel+39 (0)575.430020 | www.lavialla.it