Fattoria Poggio di Sotto is an organic estate in Località Poggio di Sotto which is just outside Castelnuovo dell’Abate, a hamlet in the south-east of the Montalcino region of Tuscany, Italy. Poggio di Sotto produces Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG and Sant’Antimo DOC wines.
Owner: Tipa-Bertarelli family since 2011.
Background: Poggio di Sotto was founded in 1989 when Piero Palmucci from the nearby port of Grosseto (his line of work was shipping) and his wife Elisabeth bought a podere from Giuseppe Bianchini of Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona which had existing vineyards (old vines). From 2004-2006 the Tipa-Bertarelli family who liked the wines first approached the Palmucci family regarding a possible sale. In late August 2011 the Palmucci family sold Poggio di Sotto to the Tipa-Bertarelli family whose first vintage was 2011. The Tipa-Bertarelli family wanted to maintain the same style of wine (under Palmucci the wines were made with old vines but the style was seen as light during the Wine Spectator era). The Tipa-Bertarelli family already owned two other estates in Tuscany, namely ColleMassari in the neighbouring Montecucco DOC, and Grattamacco in Bolgheri DOC on the Tuscan coast. Claudio Tipa (see ColleMassari for his background).
Terroir: The production area is located in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, facing the Orcia River valley in south-east Montalcino. The vines lie between Mount Amiata and the Orcia river, both of which have an effect on conditions, with the Tyrrhenian sea to the west. Southeast-facing vineyards at 200m, 300m, and 450m altitude. Some on steep slopes. Poggio di Sotto’s highest altitude vines (up to 450m) neighbour Mastrojanni and and Poggio alle Forche.
Soils: The estate’s website says ‘the soil is poor and rocky, mainly composed of clay and limestone.’ ‘A marl soil of decomposed seashell deposits,’ says Kermitt Lynch. ‘80% of the vineyards are on onyx or ‘onice’ in Italian Giampiero Pazzaglia told me (08th July 2020). Soils are volcanic and marl marnio-calinose.
Vineyards, wine production: 16ha producing 30,000 bottles (Gambero Rosso: 2015). | 2017 16 hectares (42 acres) of vines. 2020 200ha of land of which 20ha of vines in Montalcino. 20 plots-all smaller than 1ha. Individual plots include Nonna (‘granny’), Pozzo (‘water well’), Le Forche (near the neighbouring Poggio alle Forche estate), Perella. The Tipa-Bertarelli family subsequently purchased the La Velona and Bellarina vineyards which were incorporated into those of Poggio di Sotto. | 2020 50,00 bottles (Giampiero Pazzaglia 08th July 2020).
–Poggio di Sopra Vineyard: This comprises 8ha of Sant’Antimo DOC vines on a hill site below Monte Amiata in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, south-east of Montalcino. Sangiovese, Cabernet, Canaiolo and other grapes. Near the Abbey of Sant’Antimo. This was bought by Sandro Chia in 1995 for the latter’s Castello Romitorio. It was subsequently sold Poggio di Sotto.
Viticulture: 3,000-4,200 vines per hectare. Mass selection Sangiovese, biotypes, no clones. Piero Palmucci worked with Milan University to analyse Sangiovese biotypes. Dead vines are re-produced via provinage. ‘The aim is to maintain vines with the same matrix in each plot eg. Nonna, Pozzo, Le Forche, Perella. Working with the University of Florence since 2014 on biotypes and provinage, or ‘mother vines who want their children close,’ in the words of Giampiero Pazzaglia (08th July 2020). Started with 100% natural grassing on vigorous plots. Hot, till every other row not all rows.
Pests: 120ha of woodland. Fenced all plots for boar, roebuck.
Yields: ’30-35 quintals per ha,’ (Giampiero Pazzaglia 08th July 2020).
Climate change: In 2020 there were plans to create a 40 cubic metre reservoir to be able to irrigate vines that risk dying (Giampiero Pazzaglia 08th July 2020). Permission is needed to irrigate for emergency use. The vines can be sprayed with kaolin powder when it gets hot.
Organic certification: 2004 First vintage with full organic certification via QC&I Toscana (and possibly earlier but no records could be found at the estate when I asked in Feb 2015. | 2011 ICEA became the organic certifier as it was also already certifying the new owner’s other above-mentioned estates (ColleMassari in Grattamacco). | 2020 Still certified organic.
Winery: The winery lies at 300m.
Winemaking: ‘The main harvest is 100% by hand. There are a minimum of two and usually three passes because the vines are at 200, 300 and 400 metres meaning there can be a 10 day difference in ripening for each. Having to stagger picking means the right overall acidity levels can be maintained to avoid acidification. Alcoholic fermentation is via indigenous yeasts, with the starter drawn from a micro-fermentation of hand picked estate grapes begun just before the main harvest. The wines ferment in tronconic wooden 10-60hl vats,’ (Giampiero Pazzaglia 08th July 2020). Piero Palmucci aged his Brunello for a minimum of four years in 30hl Slavonian oak botti, renewing them every decade. Claudio Tipa maintained this same method, with the Brunello seeing 4 years in oak, and the Riserva seeing 5 years in 30hl vats, exactly like it was the 1980s,’ (Giampiero Pazzaglia 08th July 2020). Wines are bottled unfiltered.
Wine style–Palmucci era: ‘There is no brutally massive extract, no overdose of wood from small barrels, no excess of fruitiness’, (Gambero Rosso: 2003, p.516).
Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Poggio di Sotto: Under Palmucci the Rosso aged two years in botti (Kerin O’Keefe: 2012, p.237-40). This has continued under Claaudio Tipa (Giampiero Pazzaglia 08 July 2020). | 2000 Soft, floral, lovely, bright and fresh with quite a warm finish (Landmark Hotel, 2004) | 2009 12,000 bottles were produced. | 2010 8,500 bottles. | 2011 Clear ripe fruit, round, deepish (Anteprima 2013). Bright cherry (Anteprima 2014). Fresh, minty nose, sappy red fruit, licorice, balanced and savoury (Anteprima 2015). | 2013 6,000 bottles. Bit of orange peel and funk (Brett in the winery?) in this, light, bit tight and juicy, mouthwatering (Anteprima 2016). | 2017 Half the normal crop. 20,000 bottles. Challenging vintage. ‘The majority of production was Rosso rather than Brunello in 2017 (Giampiero Pazzaglia 08th July 2020). | 2018 14% alc. Light in terms of weight (but not light-weight), attractively tangy-salty, smooth, the red fruit notes very unforced, fluid and clear and savoury. A very distinct, refreshing, and effortless Rosso made in a traditional-modern style with wide appeal and excellent drinkability (March 2021).
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Poggio di Sotto: 1998 Soft chocolate texture with nice weight, clean and well selected (Landmark Hotel, 2004). | 1999 A soft red again. No filtration or yeast (Landmark Hotel, 2004). | 2000 Decent soft clean fruit (Anteprima 2005). | 2002 Poggio di Sotto released no Brunello in 2002. | 2008 13,500 bottles. Warm, ripe, quite floral (peony, violets), elegant, needs time to open, well made with freshness in the background (Anteprima 2013). | 2009 19,000 bottles. Garnet colour, nice floral nose, decent weight, vanilla cherry (Anteprima 2014). | 2010 12,000 bottles. Crisp and savoury, sapid, good weight (Anteprima 2015). | 2011 Juicy, but a bit stretched, maybe needed a bit less oak, cherry (Anteprima 2016). | 2012 Sweet fruit, bold, dark, plenty of texture, raspberry and vanilla (Anteprima 2017). | 2015 22,000 bottles. Particular. Chameleon, changes in the glass, new sensations. Pale colour. Deja vue. 30-40 years ago. A wine made in the old style. A reminder of past times. Underlying power that reveals itself. | 2016 Bottled in April 2020.| 2017 Low volumes. The wines were mainly bottled as Rosso di Montalcino.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva, Poggio di Sotto: 1995 Bottled. | 2004 6 years in wood (Kerin O’Keefe: 2012, p.237-40). | 2006 The last Riserva bottled by Piero Palmucci. | 2007 3,500 bottles. | 2008 3,500 bottles. High tone, Sherry-like (Anteprima 2014). | 2010 Ripe, clear (Anteprima 2016). | 2011 Produced. | 2012 Produced. | 2013 Produced. | 2015 13.5% alc. Produced. Vinification is in oak vats, with spontaneous fermentations led by indigenous yeasts and long macerations. This wine aged for 45 months in 30 hl Slavonian oak casks.
Fattoria Poggio di Sotto
Loc. Poggio di Sotto
I-53020 Castelnuovo dell’Abate (SI), Italy
Tel+39 0577.835502 | www.collemassariwines.it.en
GPS: N 42° 59′ 32.71” – E 11° 31′ 30.45″
Ian D’Agata, 2016, Decanter Italy Supplement 2016, p.98, ‘Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Rufina & Chianti Classico’.