“I want my wine to be true and authentic. Harmony in a glass.” Matteo Giustiniani, CEO, Winemaker Avignonesi winery
Just outside the quiet little village of Valiano di Montepulciano, settled between Cortona and Montepulciano, sits the decades old winery, Avignonesi. Founded in 1974 by the Avignonesi family, the winery was purchased in 2009 by Virginie Saverys with the intent of “back to basics winemaking with no unnatural intervention,” by taking over an established winery with a history of fine wine production and raising it to a new level of excellence. Since that time, Avignonesi has become the largest regenerative wine estate in Italy. She has banned the use of any and all pesticides, yeasts, dyes, tannins and other synthetic biocides, which she feels are all too prevalent in the industry.
All wine production begins with grapes. To say that a good grape will produce a good wine seems like good sense. Further, a superior grape will produce a superior wine, which is the stated goal here. The production of wines that are a pleasure to drink is the driving force. All wines are biodynamic, organic and made only from grapes grown on the 444 acres of vineyards on the estate.
Coming from the Montepulciano region, this wine already has a superior ring to it in my opinion because this is the region that produces some of the best, most drinkable wines in the world. I have often said, and I firmly believe that any wine coming from this region is truly a can’t miss. The wines are generally full-bodied with a genuine nod to the grape. Any other fruit taste or aroma is purely coincidental and takes a back seat to the main ingredient, in this case the Sangiovese grape.
With a hearty aroma, this wine is fairly typical of the Sangiovese coming out of this region. With a deep, ruby-red color that borders on purple, reflecting the quality of the fruit. Hints of strawberry, raspberry and black currants meld with those of cinnamon and an earthy scent all of which gets richer with about a two-hour decanting. But be advised, during that time the aroma can fill a room so be ready to pour at any given moment. In the glass the color is actually deeper than in the decanter and is quite beautiful as it reflects natural sunlight. On the palate, it is surprisingly soft and refreshing with good acidity and a very generous aftertaste. This is an excellent wine that begs for a dish of pasta, grilled steak or beef ribs. But even though it is an accompaniment for a fussed over meal, it is even better alone, as a “welcome to our home” wine, served as guests arrive.
Made proudly from 100% Sangiovese grapes harvested between the end of August and September, alcoholic fermentation takes place for at least 15 days with skins in large oak casks, followed by a six month aging in oak barrels and three months in the bottle. The 2018 vintage which I sampled was blessed by a warm spring and mild summer with just enough rain producing a very abundant and concentrated crop.
This wine has become a family favorite in my household for every reason stated above. It is not a mass-produced wine, the 2018 vintage was limited to about 130,000 bottles which is not very much when you consider its distribution, and as pride and quality are virtues, they are really out in front here. James Suckling awarded it 92 points and it has won acclaim at competitions all over the world. But as always, the ultimate test of any wine is the taste. The color or appearance can be inviting and the aroma is just a tease. It is the arrival of the first sip that is most memorable, and this is one wine that will not disappoint.
Alcohol content – 13.5%
Price – $19
Also worth noting here is that the estate is open for vacations and tours. You can customize your stay to include a cooking class, a gourmet dining experience or private dinner. But I have to mention the ultimate experience: use the estate as a base for your vacation as you tour the countryside… in your own FERRARI! This includes a three hour drive through the Tuscan countryside, a two hour tour of the estate and lunch. Food, wine and a Ferrari. It doesn’t get any better than that!