Since I first moved to Italy 25 years ago, I have noticed a gradual change - the sense of place is disappearing. Distinctions and traditions which characterize it are being eroded by homogenisation. There is loss of the appreciation of quality; quality that is the essence or special nature of a thing. Characteristics are formed by a series of unique relationships between the climate, the earth, the vegetation, individual sensibility and the past. They are directly reflected in the produce or cultural expression of specific natural environments so place makes a qualitative difference.
In the area surrounding the Amiata where we live and work, I was lucky to discover that many local traditions and practices have survived. It represented to me a model of 'place'.
When people ask me about how one decides what and where to plant, what type of barrel to use and why, I try to explain about the future memory of taste. Many elements are weighed up in the wine-maker’s mind - earth, microclimate, plant husbandry, local character, all the decisions in the cellar. You try to project onto your mind's palate the taste of the resultant quintessential liquid. In this sense, wine-making is akin to composing music or poetry: the composition creates a sort of liquid writing. So, what are some of these elements?
The vineyard at the Castello di Potentino is situated on the slopes of the highest peak in Tuscany, Monte Amiata, an extinct volcano. Our valley is low, and sheltered. This means that in the summer we have hot days but cold nights as the air comes down from the mountain. The earth is volcanic, geologically very new and mineral rich. This minerality creates a notably sapid and fine wine, with subtle bouquets and a rich but not heavy body. It is because of this gift of nature that we named our first wine Sacromonte, in honour of the sacred mountain of the Etruscans.