Pietro Beconcini | Estate in San Miniato in Pisa province in Tuscany, Italy.
Owner | Leonardo Beconcini (+39 347.2647861). Leonardo’s grandfather Giuseppe bought the estate in the early 1950s, lands that he, along with his family, had already been working for some time, but as a sharecroppers on the estate of the Marchesi Ridolfi family (from Florence; San Miniato was in the province of Florence at that time, but now is part of the province of Pisa). The family became one of the first in Tuscany to free themselves from the then-prevalent sharecropping system, and that made possible the founding of the present Pietro Beconcini Agricola. Leonardo’s Giuseppe was one of the first to estate bottle, from 1968. Giuseppe was succeeded by his son Pietro. In his turn was succeeded by his own son, Leonardo. Leonardo produced his first 100% Sangiovese in 1995. Leonardo’s colleague and companion is Eva Bellagamba, who had a career as an architect.
Estate vineyards–San Miniato | 12ha of vines of which 4ha are Tempranillo. The vines are halfway between Pisa and Florence,
Terroir | The vineyard is where the Arno and Elsa rivers meet, so there is good air flow, and no fog. Sandy clay and tufa; pliocene marine soil. Fossilised sea shells. Compacts easily. He can work the soil to a depth of 45cm without turning the soil, to cut the lateral roots = so need vigorous rootstocks. 100R for Sangiovese. Clay = does not drain. pH 7.5-8.0. 100-150 metres. Cordone mainly for Chianti. Guyot for other vines. 4,000-6,000 vines/ha.
Soils | The main soil component is a very dense, compact white clay, the main reason that cultivation of San Miniato vineyards is so laborious. But the other geological strata that go to make up these soils vary widely, comprising mainly of a series of sandstones and Pliocene-era marine fossils, and the layers are quite thin. One encounters therefore shells of every size and in such quantities that in some areas they themselves make up the predominant texture of the soil, as well as sands ranging in granulosity from very fine to coarse and heavy, layered in various configurations and varying increasingly in minerality and fertility the deeper one goes. To obtain the best results from the vineyards the vines need some years to push their roots deep to access the most complex mix of nutrients.
Winery | All wines ferment in cement tanks. This and other tanks for ageing. Concrete vats outside. Other crops Olive oil. The trees are over a century old. The Mignolo sub-variety is found only in San Miniato, Palaia and Montopoli. Only 900 bottles of oil per year.
Toscana Bianco, Antiche Vie | Malvasia Bianca. Hand harvested.
Toscana Rosso, Maurleo | Maurleo was the winery’s second wine to appear, made in 1988. | 2003 50% each Sangiovese and Malvasia nera. Fermentation in lined cement vats at 28-30ºC. Fermented in concrete vats. Aged in oak barrels and tonneaux. | 2003 50% Sangiovese (20-40 years) + 30% Malvasia Nera + 20% Merlot. 20,000 bottles. A bit scrappy; dirty again and not very ripe; shame as some old vine fruit at the winery on 15th March 2005.
Toscana Rosso, Reciso | Reciso is a cru wine made from Sangiovese, first made in 1995. ISangiovese budwood from Giuselle’s vines. From 3ha. Southeast and southwest exposures. On mainly white clay, with fossiled seashells. Fermentation in cement. Ageing in 10hl Slavonian oak botti and 550-litre French oak tonneaux. | 2001 Sangiovese. 6,000 bottles. All fermented in cement. Decent old vine fruit but sweet and a bit dirty; simple at the winery on 15th March 2005.
Toscana Rosso, Tempranillo IXE | An early-drinking Tempranillo. | 2012 IXE. IGT. Tempranillo (1103P). 23,000 bottles. 14m in tonneaux (old) and 2/3rd passage barrels. Orange flavours, nice weight and twist to this, interesing at Ricccardo Gabriele’s wine tasting at Il Marroneto 13 Jan 2015.
Toscana Rosso, Vigna alle Nicchie Tempranillo IXE | When Leonardo discovered that Tempranillo had been grown in San Miniato for centuries he began planting Tempranillo [from his own cuttings]. This led eventually to the authorities authorising Tempranillo (from 2009) in the permitted grapes for Tuscany. This wine is called Vigna delle Nicchie because this small vineyard block is planted in a bed of fossil seashells, or nicchie in the Tuscan dialect, over a foundation of white clay and sandstone. Local Sangiovese biotypes which he started replanting from 1997. Very productive. Needs sun and wind. On Richter 110 rootstock. Could have arrived here in San Minaito via pilgrims returning from Spain as the Francigena is nearby; or the vine may have arvrived in the 1800s when church land was planted with vines and the steepest parts terraced and one of the farmers may have believed Tempranillo would work well here Leonardo told me at Ricccardo Gabriele’s wine tasting at Il Marroneto 13 Jan 2015]. The grapes are picked [when nearly ripe] in the first week in September into small 5-kg boxes, brought to the drying loft [a fruttaio; open at both ends] and allowed to naturally dry until the second ten days in October. After this natural drying process, during which the grapes lose 25-30% of their weight, the must ferments in lined cement vats with a much larger percentage than normal of skins and seeds, which gives the wine a finer quality of acids [higher acids] and tannins [higher sugars too], as well as a very distinctive array of aromas. The fermentation can last as long as 10 days or more, because of the high sugar content; in any case, the maceration is never shorter than 6 weeks, to allow for the complete extraction of the desired compounds contained in these grapes. Sometimes the malolactic fermentation begins in the presence of the skins, other times after the first racking. Vigna Alle Nicchie requires lengthy maturation and ageing; that begins in the spring following harvest as the wine is put into new barrels, 70% French and 30% American oak. After 12 months, the final wine is blended from the various barrels, racked, and then given an additional 12 months’ ageing in the same barrels. | 2011 Aged in 50hl botti. 18m in bottle before being sold. Tempranillo. Bit sweet and sour, bit attenuated, a bit grubby still. €17 at Ricccardo Gabriele’s wine tasting at Il Marroneto 13 Jan 2015.
Chianti DOCG ‘Antiche Vie’ | Sangiovese with varying percentages of Canaiolo, Colorino, Ciliegiolo, and Malvasia nera. The grapes are harvested separately in September and October, as the different varieties ripen, and thus the fermentation periods vary. They are carried out in lined cement vats, with very traditional 21-day macerations. Antiche Vie Chianti matures only in vats, the only one of my wines not to see any oak. It is released after a brief ageing in the bottle, at one year of age. | 2003 30,000 bottles; no wood; this wine is green at the winery on 15th March 2005.
Chianti Reserva DOCG, Pietro Beconcini | Sangiovese with varying percentages of Canaiolo, Colorino, Ciliegiolo, and Malvasia nera. The grapes are harvested separately in September and October, as the different varieties ripen. Fermented in lined concrete vats. The Chianti Reserve matures one year in Slavonian oak, then spends up to 30 months in the bottle before release.
Vin Santo Chianti DOC, Caratello | Malvasia Bianca, Trebbiano and San Colombano plus about 30% of Malvasia nera and a small amount of Colombana.
Vin Santo Chianti DOC, Occhio di Pernice | This rare oxidative wine is made with the same traditional process as Vin Santo, but using only Sangiovese grapes; it is aged in small casks, but only of oak, where it spends a minimum of 7 years. First release due in 2014.
Visit on 15th March 2005. Tasting at Riccardo Gabriele’s wine tasting at Il Marroneto 13 Jan 2015.
Pietro Beconcini Agricola
Fraz La Scala, Via Montorso 13/A, I-56027 ), Italy
Tel+39 0571.464570 | www.pietrobeconcini.com