Owner: Stella Viola di Campalto. 36 years old in July 2008. Stella’s mother is from Florence, but she was born in Milan. The estate had been largely abandoned by Stella Viola di Campalto’s husband’s family since the 1930s. She was given the estate by her father-in-law. Her ex-husband was called Gianfranco Buontempo. Gianfranco’s father owned land in this area of south-east Montalcino, a locality called Località La Velona. When Stella came here in the mid-1990s her goal was to produce olive oil from the estate’s 2ha of olive groves. From 1999 she decided to plant vines. She made her first wines from the 2002 vintage with the help of the late Giuseppe Bianchini, the owner of Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona. She also sought counsel from Gianfranco Soldera and Piero Palmucci (of Poggio di Soto).
Vineyards: Between 240–340 metres asl. 6ha of vineyards of which 3.8ha were planted from 1999 and 2.2 ha were planted from 2002. Sangiovese clones are F9,C24, B1 and B2 on 1100 Paulsen and 420A. Single and double cordon. 5,500 vines/hectare with 2.40 metres rows x 0.80 metres vines. SSW and EW facing. 360-280 metres. One plot called ‘Basso’ vineyard comprises sandy silt and volcanic soil. The ‘Leccio’ plot comprises alberese. Other plots incluse Vigna Curva and Vigna al Sasso. | 2010 6ha of vines.
Biodynamics: Stella told me she ‘had read a lot about Rudolf Steiner before coming here, and I never used anti-biotics either for myself or my two children. My daughter Beatrice di Campalto (lived in Milan, and Prague) felt ill living in the city and we told her to see a homepathic doctor in Milan. She went. Anti-biotic became pro-biotic. Then I changed how the vineyards were managed. I knew I wanted all the trees and vines here to be as strong as possible, and biodynamics seemed to best way to achieve this. I worked out the practicalities after meeting Alex Podolinsky [see BDRI, Australia] at a biodynamic forum in Italy”. As well as the Biodynamic field sprays, Horn Silica (501) and Prepared Horn Manure (500P) Stella makes teas from garlic to discourage pests like grape moths. She sprays the vines by hand using a back sprayer. She attends group seminars hosted by Pierre Masson when he is in Tuscany. She has also worked I think with Lionello Anello. Cover crops are sown but ploughed out over summer. Has used BSC.
Other crops: Olive trees date from the 1920s. Olive Oil: lovely bright green lime colour; soft, intense, rich, pepper at finish.
Certification: 2002 Officially starts conversion to organic status. | 2003 Applies for Biodynamic certification from Demeter. | 2010 Certified Biodynamic by Demeter. | 2017 First vintage with full Biodynamic (SIVCBD ‘Biodyvin’) certification. | 2019 Still Demeter certified Biodynamic.
Memberships: Renaissance des Appellations.
Winemaking: The grapes are hand picked and sorted in the field to eliminate anything sub-standard. Small, gravity-fed cellar. Underground barrel cellar.
Rosso di Montalcino: The Rosso di Montalcino here is made and aged in same way as the Brunello and is simply bottled earlier. 2001 Delicious and malty, lots of warmth and potentially wild flavour at the Landmark Hotel London, 12 January 2004. Not BD. Dry and hot, sweet fruit, starting to go volatile and acetone, short (Naval Club, London 2012). | 2002 Tank sample. Ripe and sweet, delicious, clear wild fruit; fermented in botti and aged in barrel (Landmark Hotel, 2004). | 2003 Nice, wild and soft from one vinification and good again if a bit tight from another vinification (Anteprima 2005). | 2003 Broad, some chocolate (Anteprima 2006). | 2004 Some chocolate (Anteprima 2006). | 2007 Fermented in wooden vats. Aged in oak for 22 months. Light colour which Stella says she likes. Nice ripe wild red mint aromas (and polished oak) with affectionate tannins when tasting at the winery Thursday morning, 24 Feb 2011. €24-27 retail. | 2008 Tough ferment, irregular. Perfumed, clear, poppy flower, sweet fruit, full, good energy, needs time still but ready too (Naval Club 2012). | 2010 Bottled. | 2013 Very Burgundian, very good (Osticcio 2018 with Michaela Morris).
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG: 2005 Wet vintage. Nice acidity, bit of sherry, quite intense (Naval Club 2012). | 2006 A late vintage, Stella says, like 2004, producing wines with marked acidity and tannic structure. The wine is still very young, it has a story to tell, powerful, rich, expressive tannins (which you would never guess from a Pinot-ish colour) which are ‘molto lenti’ she says, some dry sherry wood too I think when tasting at the winery Thursday morning, 24 Feb 2011. €52-54 retail. | 2010 Nice perfume, ruby garnet, smooth sweet ripe, well done wood on end and some acetone maybe, bit high tone/warm at end with Susan Hulme MW at Osticcio in Montalcino mid-afternoon Friday 19th February 2016.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Podere San Giuseppe: 2005 Bottled.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva: 2011 ‘Lost 60% of crop due to the hot, dry conditions, especially in August. Aged in one 16hl and two 25hl botti grandi,’ (BBR ‘Grand Tour’ 2016, p.24).
Castelnuovo dell’Abate (SI), Italy
Tel +39 (0)577.835754 | Website www.stelladicampalto.com
Directions: From Castelnuovo dell’Abate head towards Monte Amiata; after two km on the right there is a casale and a sign indicating San Giuseppe. Follow the dirt road down for around 900 metres to reach the cantina.