14 Jun Barsaglina, Foglia Tonda and Lacrima del Valdarno. A “new agriculture” in the sign of Tuscan native vines
(Original article in Italian from the magazine Oinos)
The “Società Agricoltura Nuova Agricoltura” company has been carrying on for over three years the activities of Mannucci Droandi, winegrowers in Caposelvi (Arezzo) for three generations, which originates from the agricultural traditions and viticulture of two Tuscan families: the Mannucci, who were landowners In Valdarno at least since the early 19th century and the Droandi, who from the eighteenth century were farmers in Carmignano and then factors such as Lorenzo Droandi – exponent of the modern and prepared farmers’ élite who inspired the teachings of Cosimo Ridolfi and Bettino Ricasoli – Who in the second half of the nineteenth century was “minister” (administrator) of the Farm of the Borro in Valdarno, to whom he had arranged the accommodation almost to our day.
“Nuova Agricoltura” manages today an extensive farm for about 100 hectares and is conducted with the method of organic farming, divided into two main bodies, Campolucci in the municipality of Montevarchi, which houses the business center and Ceppeto in the town of Gaiole in Chianti. Campolucci – a landmark of Latin origin, “the field of the sacred wood” – is located on the eastern slopes of the Chianti Mountains, subdivision of the Colli Aretini at an altitude of 250 meters above sea level on top of a hill facing south facing the ancient Fortified hamlet of Caposelvi, near Mercatale Valdarno: an area not yet known, but of considerable interest, intensely vitally and which is revealing its great potential starting from the last twenty years, thanks to the commitment of the winegrowers who They began to produce fine wines.
The second body is the farm Ceppeto, consisting of vineyards and olive groves planted around a square stone farmhouse (built in the 18th century on the remains of an ancient ruins) and surrounded by thick forests of oak and chestnut trees. Also located on the eastern side of the Chianti Mountains – Chianti Classico, more precisely on the south slope (400 meters above sea level) of the hill dominated by the castle of Starda in the Municipality of Gaiole – is surrounded by an uncontaminated wilderness environment where The wood seems to dominate the few cultivars. There are native Indigenous Sangioves, probably from massive selections of the previous property, which have proved to be very interesting.
It is in this fascinating and ancient story that, in the second decade of the twentieth century, the “Agricoltura Nuova Agricoltura” was set up in mid-2013 by the initiative of the members Maria Grazia Mammuccini, a life in the world of agriculture and already Director of Azia (Regional Agency for Development and Innovation in the Forestry Industry of the Tuscany Region) and Giorgio Valentini – former Mayor of Montevarchi for two years and animator of the famous “Mercatale”, the Valdarno Farm’s covered market The intention for both is to continue a family tradition, to enhance their institutional and professional experiences in the agricultural sector and more generally on food and rural issues, while as far as the third partner is concerned, Dr. Sandro Pasquinucci – Born in Tuscany, but transplanted to Venice – participation is mainly based on cultural interest and It was a passion for the wines bound to the territory. At the base of the work done by Mannucci Droandi, “Nuova Agricoltura” has decided to place in the center of its activity both the wine production of the province of Arezzo and those of Chianti Classico, in addition to the very interesting line of wines from native vines in Purity, as a sign of the recovery and maintenance of biodiversity.
For Maria Grazia Mammuccini, sole administrator of Nuova Agricoltura “it is essential to follow a path that sees in typical productions of quality, in connection with the territory, in the fundamental social and environmental value of agriculture, organic and in direct relationship with the conscious consumer The core of its strategy. So the choices made in a time not suspected by Mannucci Droandi – traditional wines, organic wines and native grape wines – have not only proved to be just but today they are marrying in full with the strategic goals of the new company ” .
In fact, this is the result of a true passion for the ancient vineyards that Roberto continues to carry on within the new organization as responsible for the vineyards and the cellar : “Until the mid-twentieth century in the Tuscan countryside Hundreds of different varieties were still cultivated and deeper transformations in the wine-growing system took place in the 1960s with the emergence of specialized viticulture. Unfortunately, the old promiscuous plants were polyclonal, as there were no vineyards in the hectares of vineyards, it was really impressive, but this extraordinary biodiversity, which was very positive at the time, proved to be at the same time The weaker aspect of that viticulture: excessive variety did not give a stable quality and recognizability, the only thing that counted was the taste of the individual farmer; The new specialized viticulture, which took the place of the old promise, laid the foundations for remedying these defects, but this was at the expense of biodiversity, with the sacrifice of many existing varieties for the benefit of a few who were held, Even rightly, the most suitable ones, that is to say Tuscany for the Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Trebbiano, Malvasia and a few others … “.
How did you react to this? “The depletion of the varietal heritage, in addition to contributing to the loss of historical memory and cultural traditions of the territory, leads, at medium term, to serious risks of erosion of variability, an important factor for the same genetic improvement. Moreover, in the case of vines, we must not forget the importance of smaller vines to enhance the specificity of the different territories or to characterize the wines from the point of view of the lexical organ. Thus, since the early 1990s, we conducted field research, mainly in marginal areas, where promiscuous breeding forms dating back to the beginning of the last century can still be found. In fact, we try to find in the mountain farms, in the old vineyards and in the abandoned fields the specimens of those vineyards which have lost their memory, also because of the choices of the wine market, but which constitute the native ampelographic heritage of Tuscany in the past Vast and important, as documented by numerous testimonies of ampelographers, technicians and artists of the past centuries. Much of the cultivars have been identified in old obsolete plants and are, however, destined to be eliminated within a short time, mainly due to the age of the owners, the lack of generational replacement, and, if we are thinking of the Montevarchin vivaismo reality, Even the expansion of the urban center. For more than 20 years, this research has been collaborating with the Arezzo Section of the then Experimental Institute for Viticulture in Arezzo of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, now CREA – Council for Research in Agriculture – Research Unit for Viticulture in Arezzo. Under the scientific direction of the Institute, an experimental vineyard was set up for the conservation of the vineyard germplasm of the Province of Arezzo and Tuscany, in which old vineyards were planted, considered at risk of extinction, If not extinct, not only with the aim of conserving genetic resources but also reintegrating into the production chain of the most interesting varieties. The project has also come to fruition thanks to the availability of winemakers, who have made available, in addition to the variety they retain, specific technical and historical-popular knowledge, providing a valuable contribution to the revision of traditional vineyards and their uses. “
But the experimental fields have even become two … “We first planted the first in 1994 with 39 varieties coming from the immense collection of the Aretino Institute, among the first in Italy and the largest in the Center-South, boasting 600 different Variety or clones, is a true open air museum; The second was born in the early twentieth century, set on about a dozen typical local vines in our Valdarno area. “
But for a few years now it is possible to taste something of your production … “In the belief that these vineyards can contribute to the setting of future Tuscan viticulture, from early 2000, the first microvinitions were carried out and the quality was verified. Offered promising directions. Some were so interesting that we decided to bottle small rounds of Leaf Round, Barsaglina and Pugnitello; We make a thousand bottles by type and year to offer you the chance to taste almost unique products in total purity, 100% monovitigno: what will be and what will become we will discover it together with the years … However, the awareness of being among the first to present them The market gives us the feeling of a fulfilled duty and the pleasure of proposing something that returns to life from a remote past. And on the label of the native vine line I wanted to remember my maternal grandmother Isabella Mannucci Carafa, born in Florence in 1887, but descended from an ancient Neapolitan family, here portrayed by Florentine painter Stefano Ussi at the age of about 16 years old. His time
Donated by my family to the Gallery of Modern Art of Palazzo Pitti “.
Maria Grazia, we are convinced that native vines do not have to be archeo-viticulture wrecks but must start to create income, so let’s start talking about your Round Leaf … “We consider it our beloved son, it is an old vine of Chianti with its excellent characteristics, so much so that it is embedded in various experimental programs: with the bunch and the acorn similar to the Sangiovese, the only problematic it presents is exaggerated productivity, so to reach a certain quality level goes a little bit thwarted. Although there are no reliable elements on the origin, Di Rovasenda (1877) says he found it in the Baron Ricasoli vineyards at the Castello di Brolio in Gaiole. Later Breviglieri and Casini (1964) described a Round Leaf always found in Chianti, in the Arceno area. Slightly widespread, it has been undergoing some years of reintroduction thanks to the recent successful experimental results. It is a grape of interest, able to provide high quality products, giving a robust, ruby-colored wine, a pleasant scent: by synthesizing we can say that it is a Sangiovese enhanced with great tannins and strong acidity, therefore very suitable for ‘ aging”.
But Pugnitello also seems to be a long wine … “From the unknown origin, it is spreading thanks to the excellent qualitative characteristics, albeit of difficult agronomic management and really poorly productive. One can only suppose the name comes from the shape of the cluster, which is small and just remembers a small hand fisted. Vine of good vigor, from small clusters and thick-grained, grape-like grapes, has good resistance to the most common parasitic diseases. It produces a very intense red wine with shades of purple, soft, balanced and well-structured, with soft tannins and notes of ripe cherries. Pugnitello has an oenological quality that is undoubtedly interesting for both pure and grain production to give particular characteristics suitable for aging. “
While it seems that Barsaglina is a younger wine … “A vine native to the northern coast of Tuscany, to date it is still present, but uncommon, in the Province of Massa Carrara. Extremely good for phenolic potentials, it is fairly balanced and characterized by high vigor, low fertility of buds, constant production, the only problem is the foliage, sometimes overly lush; The clusters appear less compact than the Sangiovese and maturation is fairly early, prior to the Sangiovese average of 7-10 days. Particularly high values of total anthocyanins and polyphenols appear. The wine that comes out is characterized by a distinct personality and does not resemble anybody else, it’s really something different and original, we really like both the nose and the mouth. It produces a robust and fruity wine with a high fruity, intense ruby color; The smell is fresh with vegetable hints, the taste is full, intense, sometimes tannic. We also consider it very interesting to use in blends, for example with the Sangiovese, due to its color intensity and the freshness it brings. “ But there are also two other wines from Valdarnia grapes … “In a couple of years the Orpicchio and the Lacrima del Vardarno will be released. The first, with particular risk of genetic erosion, is a white grape variety cultivated in the Mercatale Valdarno area and known since the first half of the nineteenth century. Although characterized by a growing difficulty that I would call exaggerated, it proved to be interesting for the small cluster measures and the promising oenological characteristics, certainly a different Tuscan white. The Lacrima del Valdarno, a varietal enhancer once widespread and then almost disappeared and saved only by the passion of an old nurseryman of Montevarchi, is a very late vine, medium vigor and medium productive capacity, has excellent tolerance to rot and Has a regular pyramid cluster, tending to the compact and very pruinoso, with must rich in acidity. He showed a high content in coloring substances during the observation years and, having an exorbitant structure, was said to be the ‘curator’ of the Sangiovese.
What role can these vines have in the future? “I consider them an important tool especially for small and medium-sized farms, a way of strengthening their ties with the territory, also having an identity function for the local community. Among other things, they may be interesting for their resistance to illnesses, especially in this era of climate change and, at the same time, offer the possibility of a different taste experience, a fundamental aspect in these times of exasperating global homologation Of taste. Small Tuscan producers will only save themselves if they can express the distinctive essence of terroirs, working as ‘farmer farmers’ in the most natural way possible, both by presenting native grape varieties in purity, and in Sangiovese grape varieties, to bring Chianti to express Its own territorial identity, which is increasingly felt in need. “
By Andrea Cappelli
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