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Ampeleia: A taste of Mediterranean Tuscany

Some projects are born under very auspicious signs. When three friends meet in a restaurant and decide that they are going to start an agricultural and enological project, conceived from the beginning as ground breaking, and destined to change the perception of Tuscan wine it helps that one of them is one of the greatest vignerons in Italy, the other is an agronomist and politician and the third a business man from the region with the lay of the land imprinted in his brain.

In 2002 Elizabetta Foradori, of Teroldego fame, Thomas Widmann, who later will forsake his interest in the project to dedicate himself completely to his political career, and Giovani Podini launched Ampelaia, a farm, vineyard and winery in total harmony with its surroundings, committed to produce honest wines, clear reflection of the terroir and expressions of Tuscany as part of the Mediterranean.

They purchased a decrepit estate in the medieval town of Roccatederighi, a fortified hilltop village of small important in the middle Ages that slipped over the centuries into poverty and isolation. A small portion of the 120 hectares of the estate were planted by the previous owners with Cabernet Franc in the 1960s; the new team kept those vines and started immediately re-planting at high density, selecting the best exposures and most appropriate varietals for the distinct soils of the property. Now the vineyard covers 40 hectares.

Ampeleia is formed by three different areas, with different soils, at different altitudes, and each one with a particular microclimate: -Ampeleia di Sopra, the highest altitude of the estate, between 450 and 600 meters above sea level, home of the old Cabernet Franc vines with calcareous and volcanic soils. -Ampeleia di Mezzo, at about 400 meters above sea level, planted mostly with Sangiovese, and complemented with Mediterranean grapes. -Ampelaia di Sotto, the closest to the sea in altitude, with sandy soils and an evident maritime influence, planted with Mourvedre, Alicante, Grenache and other Mediterranean grapes.

The farming practices are biodynamic and the certification process still ongoing for the Ampeleia di Sotto. The winemaking is non-interventionist: Indigenous yeast, no fining, no filtering and no sulphur added. The whole range of wines show incredible freshness, beautiful fruit and the core minerality of the Colline Metallifere. They are certainly original wines inspired by tradition.

At Eli’s List

-IGT Costa Toscana Ampeleia 2012, old vines of cabernet franc and Sangiovese from Ampeleia di Sopra.

IGT Costa Toscan Kepos 2013, blend of Mediterranean varietals, mainly Grenache, Carignan and Alicante Bouschet.