After making our way through the scenic countryside of Val D’ Orcia in the Tuscany region of Italy, we reached the gates of Montalcino. Nestled on top of a hill, Montalcino offers a superb view of the surrounding region. Instead of entering the gate, however, we veered left and traveled on a dirt road towards the boundary of the Montalcino appellation. A few miles down, we reached our destination: Poggio Salvi di Montalcino, home to the renowned Italian wine producer, Villa Poggio Salvi.
As we made our way through the estate, we could see the vineyards and the lavender bushes that surround the estate’s vineyards. We visited the estate’s cellars, the barrel (vat) room where the wines age for up to 3 years depending on the wine type, and the rest of the estate’s wine production facilities. We also visited the private tasting room, which offered a spectacular view of the estate’s vineyards and the surrounding lavender fields. The wines we sampled every one of them surpassed all of our expectations. Villa Poggio Salvi’s aim is to make traditional Italian wines more approachable to new world markets; hence Villa Poggio Salvi Brunellos tend to open up sooner than traditional Brunellos.
Villa Poggio Salvi: Estates
Villa Poggio Salvi has two estates: Poggio Salvi in Montalcino (the estate we visited) and Casavecchia in Monteriggioni. Both of these estates are ideal for growing wine grapes. The soil is rich in marl, while the breeze blowing from the Tyrrhenian Sea provides great ventilation, helping prevent rot and other vine diseases.
Poggio Salvi di Montalcino: Poggio Salvi is located on a Montalcino hillside facing the Tyrrhenian Sea (Mar Tirreno). This unique location plus its altitude (some 300 to 500 meters above sea level) gives Poggio Salvi its fresh and clean air. This has made Poggio Salvi or “Safe Knoll” a favorite refuge among the people of the Maremma region in times of plagues and epidemics.
In 1979, Pierluigi Tagliabue bought and started developing Poggio Salvi. Now, this area serves as Villa Poggio Salvi’s headquarters and houses Villa Poggio Salvi’s wine-making facilities. Poggio Salvi is also home to Dr. Luca Belingardi, who is in charge of Villa Poggio Salvi’s day-to-day operations. Villa Poggio Salvi owns around 23 hectares of vineyards in Montalcino. All of these vineyards are planted with Sangiovese grosso grapes.
Casavecchia: Monteriggioni, like Montalcino, is located on a hillock and lies around 200 meters above sea level. Villa Poggio Salvi’s estate in Monteriggioni spans some 20 hectares of vineyards planted with Sangiovese and Merlot grapes.
Villa Poggio Salvi: Winery and Wines
Villa Poggio Salvi knows the value of modern technology in wine production. To further improve its productivity and wine quality, Villa Poggio Salvi’s winemaking facilities in Poggio Salvi di Montalcino has been undergoing renovation over the past few years. The side of the hill on which Villa Poggio Salvi di Montalcino lies – even the land on which the Villa stands – has been extensively excavated in the spirit of modernization. Newly built structures now dot the landscape. Old buildings and facilities have also been revamped, restored or improved.
Villa Poggio Salvi makes DOCG, DOC and IGT wines.
- Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello di Montalcino (red wine)
Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello di Montalcino is made according to the wine-making rules of the Montalcino DOCG. It has two variants: Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello di Montalcino Annata and Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello di Montalcino Reserve.
Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello di Montalcino is 100% Sangiovese grosso. To make this wine, Villa Poggio Salvi uses only grapes harvested from its best, southwest-facing Montalcino vineyards. The grapes for the Reserve come from vineyards 300 to 520 meters above sea level. The grapes for the Annata come from vineyards 320 to 480 meters above sea level.
After fermentation, Brunello di Montalcino Reserve undergoes 40 months of aging in Slavonian oak and 6 or more months of aging/refining in bottle. Brunello di Montalcino Annata, on the other hand, undergoes 30 months of aging in Slavonian oak and 6 months or more of aging in bottle.
- Villa Poggio Santi Caspagnolo Chianti Colli Senesi (red wine)
Villa Poggio Salvi Santi Caspagnolo Chianti Colli Senesi is made using grapes from the Villa Poggio Salvi estate in Monteriggioni. As the name suggests, Caspagnolo is made using grapes from the Colli Senesi (Siena) sub-area of the Chianti wine region and according to the Chianti DOCG appellation rules. Caspagnolo is 90% Sangiovese grosso and 10% Merlot. Before public release, Caspagnolo is aged briefly in Slavonian oak barrels then refined in bottle for about 3 to 4 months.
- Villa Poggio Salvi Rosso di Montalcino (red wine)
Villa Poggio Salvi Rosso di Montalcino, made according to Rosso di Montalcino DOC rules, is 100% Sangiovese grosso. This wine undergoes a shorter period of aging than the Brunello DOCG wine. Specifically, it is aged in Slavonian oak for 12 months then aged in bottle for 2 or more months.
- Villa Poggio Salvi Aurico Moscadello di Montalcino (white wine)
Moscadello di Montalcino is a Montalcino DOC wine that is steeped in history and tradition. Montalcino has been making this wine since the 16th century. The appellation accepts three Moscadello wine styles: still, sparkling or late harvest.
Villa Poggio Salvi makes the third type. Villa Poggio Salvi Aurico Moscadello di Montalcino is a late-harvest wine. This dessert wine is 100% Moscato bianco (white Muscat). Villa Poggio Salvi lets the grapes dry directly on the vines then, in mid-November, the withered grapes are handpicked then pressed. The must undergoes oak fermentation and the resulting wine is aged in oak for 2 years then aged in bottle for 6 months or longer.
- Villa Poggio Lavischio Toscana Rossi (red wine)
Villa Poggio Salvi Lavischio Toscana Rossi is 100% Merlot. It is made using grapes harvested from Villa Poggio Salvi’s vineyards in Monteriggioni. It undergoes 3 months of Slavonian oak aging and 5 months of bottle aging.
Apart from the wines listed above, Villa Poggio Salvi also makes the following wines:
- Brut Rose Spumante: This pink sparkling wine is made using Sangiovese grosso grapes (100%).
- Vaio: This red wine, made according to the rules of the Morellino di Scansano DOCG appellation, is made using grapes from the village of Scansano. This Morellino varietal wine undergoes 3 to 4 months of bottle aging in Poggio Salvi di Montalcino cellars.
- Vermentino: This white wine belongs to the Toscana IGT appellation. This Tuscan white wine is made using Vermentino bianco grapes from Scansano. It is aged in stainless steel tanks, after which it undergoes bottle refining for 2 to 3 months.
- Tosco: This Toscana IGT red wine is 100% Sangiovese grosso, made using grapes from Villa Poggio Salvi’s Monteriggioni vineyards. It is aged in Slavonian oak for 10 months then refined in bottle for 4 months.
Villa Poggio Salvi also makes its own pomace brandy or grappa. When Villa Poggio Salvi makes Brunello di Montalcino, the grape skins that remain after pressing the Brunello grapes are carefully screened. Only the choicest grape skins are used to make grappa; these are distilled at the Nannoni Distillery within 24 hours of pressing.
Villa Poggio Salvi makes two pomace brandy variants: Grappa di Brunello and Grappa di Brunello Reserve. Grappa di Brunello is a young grappa while Grappa di Brunello Reserve is a Grappa Riserva. Grappa di Brunello Reserve is simply Grappa di Brunello that has undergone 4 years of aging in French oak.
That’s it for now. Next stop: Tenuta Greppo – Biondi Santi.
Italian wine producers Villa Poggio Salvi and Biondi Santi have joined forces, creating a formidable entity that would represent to the world the passion of Montalcino winemakers as well as the quality and history of Brunello di Montalcino and other Montalcino wines. Incidentally, the families that run these two great estates are related.