From: Tuscany, Italy
Tasting Notes: Maria Sole’s workhorse (pun intended) wine, “Bulgarelli”—named after her grandfather’s prized stallion—is pure Sangiovese from 20- to 30-year-old vines planted in the sandy clay soils of the farm’s main three parcels: Ficomontano, Melogranino, and Campo Cavalli. Fermented naturally in cement, and aged six months in non-thermoregulated stainless steel, Bulgarelli is bottled without fining or filtration, and with a bare minimum of added sulfur. This distinctive wine pulls in multiple directions; it is both fresh and deep, both spicy and earthy, and its dark red fruits soar high, unfettered by cellar manipulations. The ever-versatile Sangiovese finds a new and lovely register here.
"A Breath of Fresh Air in Southern Tuscany" by Clarke Boehling from Rosenthal Wine Merchant (August 2022)
Within Tuscany’s relatively conservative winegrowing culture, Maria Sole Gianelli’s wines are a breath of fresh air. Maria Sole’s farm is called Ficomontanino (roughly, “Little Fig Mountain”), a property her grandfather acquired in the 1960s as a place to produce olive oil and breed horses. Situated in the far southeast of the region near the town of Chiusi, Ficomontanino is administratively part of Tuscany, but geographically and spiritually it speaks to both Umbria and Lazio, both of whose borders are mere kilometers away. From her 12 hectares of vines, planted at around 350 meters altitude on the south-facing slopes of her family’s property, one can see Lake Trasimeno in Umbria to the east, the mountains of northern Lazio to the south, and the rolling hills of Siena to the northwest.
Maria Sole’s grandfather planted the first vines here almost 40 years ago, making wine as a hobby, and while Maria Sole’s father ramped up production a bit, his approach was more conventional, informed by then-current trends toward power and color. Maria Sole, having studied at Slow Food’s University of Culinary Arts at Pollenzo, was inspired by the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and Masanobu Fukuoka to reimagine her family’s vineyards as part of a larger ecosystem, and when she gained responsibility for them in 2014, she set about establishing a natural equilibrium on the property, incorporating biodynamic preparations, allowing vegetation to grow freely, and relying on only bare traces of copper-sulfate to treat her vineyards.
Maria Sole has gradually been refining her approach in the cellar as well, working toward ever more expressiveness via ever fewer interventions. Her mother is from Sardinia, and she was inspired to drastically alter her approach to temperature control, sulfur, and other such safeguards by the boldly natural wines of Tenute Dettori (located near to her mother’s birth home), as well as by numerous examples from Piedmont, where she worked after school for several years. Her cellar sidekick Fabio, originally from the Valtellina, worked at the legendary Ar.Pe.Pe estate, and both he and Maria Sole bring a certain appreciation of reined-in, precise wildness to the overarching aesthetic of Ficomontanino’s wines.
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