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Tenuta Argentiera Tour Review – Taste of “Little Bordeaux”

By Amy Munice

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One half million bottles of wine every year…

 

And to think that Tenuta Argentiera only did its first planting in 2000, not long after the current owners, Corrado and Marcello Fratini, acquired the land.

 

 

Argentiera plants vineyards with grapes for Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot.  Yes, those ARE French names, and varieties that were first introduced to this area during World War II. 

 

 

Fifth largest in the area, Argentiera is also the closest wine estate to the sea and also has the highest altitude vineyards in the Bolgheri D.O.C. zone, a.k.a. “Little Bordeaux”.  Because it was a sometimes silver mining area, it came to have the name “Argentiera”, which derives from the Italian word for silver.   This minerality in the soil is important, helping to create what is called its “terroir”, meaning the signature that the land gives to the wine.

 

 

Wine enthusiasts but not wine sophisticates, we were absolutely delighted to get a tour of the Argentiera estate from Isabelle Benedetti, the half-French and half-Italian manager of Argentiera’s wine shop.  In short order she brought us from zero to 1000 in terms of understanding the Bolgheri D.O.C history and requirements. 

 

 

Tours can be arranged at any time for wine enthusiasts at all levels of wine savvy.  About a third of the visitors who come for the tour are sommeliers or restaurateurs, and Isabelle is clearly able to tune her presentations and tours to the knowledgebase of those before her.  Of late, somewhere between two to three thousand visitors a year come for this Argentiera tour.

 

When you take a tour with Isabelle, what comes across first and foremost is her love of the land, the vineyards and the product she so enthusiastically represents.  Argentiera has a truly unique microclimate due to its proximity to the sea and its elevation.  One stop on the tour is going to a small tower landing in the grape orchards to look at the landscape spreading below—a picturesque view that in itself is worth planning a visit and tour to this winery while you are in Tuscany.

 

Benedetti says, “80% of what makes a great wine comes from the care and approach to cultivating the grapes.  We use both chemical analysis and taste to gauge when to harvest.  We respect the grapes and this ensures we make better wine.” 

 

70 people work year round at Argentiera to ensure that the wine has the best quality.  For the Hollywood curious, it might be of interest that the vineyard also shares a wine consultant with none other than Francis Ford Coppola

 

 

On the tour you visit the cellars of tanks where the wine is first processed followed by visits to the oak barrels aging wine.  In the summer, Argentiera also hosts wine tastings on its cellar’s huge patio.  Like other visitors, we too had the feeling that we were more in a church than a wine cellar.

 

 

The most fun was at the conclusion of the tour when Isabelle created an impromptu wine tasting for us in the store.  We sampled three wines (Poggio ai Ginepri 2013, a more complex Villa Donoratico, and Argentierra 2011) truly having difficulty to choose a favorite.  When other guests came to the wine shop in search of a Rosé, Isabelle enthusiastically poured us samples too, which we were especially glad to taste as it was the first time ever we have enjoyed a Rosé blend, a wine that is distinguished by skipping the steps of aging it in wood. 

 

As Isabelle puts it, “These are not wines for the beach”. 

 

The wine shop does sell directly via ecommerce.  You can learn more about the wines and place orders via the Argentiera website.

 

Impromptu tours of the vineyards can often by accommodated.  It is better though to contact Argentiera ahead of time to schedule a tour.

 

Tenuta Argentiera Bolgheri

Via Aurelia, 412/a

Loc. Pianali

57022 Donoratico

 

(+39) 0565 77 45 81

 

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Photos:  Peter Kachergis, unless otherwise indicated

 

 

 

 

 

Published on Apr 30, 2015

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