Tenuta Tolaini Tuscany, Italy

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Merlot vine with barley growing at the base for aerating the soil and composting to provide vines with nutrients. Very well thought out.

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Me amongst the vineyards.

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Custom made vine pruning tractors.

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Imperial bottle for 100 people in the cellar.

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Diego and I.

Pier Luigi Tolaini is an Italian who moved to Canada at a young age. He became a trucking magnate and a big wine lover… Pier Luigi is a simple and very successful business man who likes to be called Louie. Half the time he lives in Winnipeg, Canada and the other half under the Tuscan sun. Tolaini’s home and winery are located at Strada Provinciale 9 di Pievasciata, 28
Loc Vallenuova 53019 Castelnuovo Berardenga, Siena.

Since 1998, Pier Luigi’s grapes are ripening into world-class Bourdeaux blend style wines and causing a big stir among the local and international wine world. In the winery, a combination of Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauv., Petit Verdot and Cab. Franc. are being used. For a consultant, Tolaini is working with world renowned French vintner Michel Rolland who has achieved a sort of “rock star” status in the wine world. Michel flies in from time to time to give advice to the Local Italian resident winemaker.

I had the pleasure to tour Pier Luigi’s facilities with Diego Bonato the winery General Manager. Diego is a very knowlegeable and personable young man from the Veneto region of Italy. It was amazing walking the vineyards and learning so much from him. First of all the whole production is 100% organic. During very dry periods, a very costly and intricate system of drip irrigation has been installed and a sort of hygrometer is used to tell how much water the vine stems have inside and when too dry on the gauge, the watering system is activated.

Pier Luigi is also the creator of a small tractor which is custom made and used during pruning times (usually in Spring). He came up with this idea in his garage in Winnipeg and now has them manufactured in Italy specially for his winery. The way these hands-free operated little tractors with tank treads work is that they move sideways along the rows of vines, allowing a field worker to use his hands to prune. The workers achieve momentum by pressing a gas pedal and using a joystick for forward, reverse and sideways motion much like a commercial crane operator does. In turn, an army of workers can cover a vast amount of vineyard in a shorter period of time. This is the only winery I know of in Tuscany using this method of pruning. It is not a cheap investment but when you want to be the best, only the best will do…

Finishing off the tour in the wine cellar was amazing! Pier Luigi bought an ancient Tuscan villa to house all of his wine operation and small winery offices. He actually had the villa gutted out and designed as a winery. The pressing and crushing stages of the winemaking process are all done on the roof of the villa cellar. No pumping over of the juice is done, instead the juice flows by gravity. This allows for the polyphenolic tannins in the grapeskins to not crush in a violent way causing less harsh tannicity. This is a method that I can highly relate to and really believe in myself.

Finally, while in the cellar, Diego was kind enough to let me try three of Tolaini’s wines… I first sampled their entry level Tolaini Chianti Classico Riserva which is of a single vineyard number 7 comprised of 100% Sangiovese (Tuscany’s king grape), grown on Galestra terroir, a sort of Tuscan clay. This wine had a lovely ruby color with notes of dark cherries, black berries, porcini mushrooms, black crushed pepper and red rose flowers. This Chianti Classico was very fresh, with great acidity, showing signs of the unique microclimate of the area. A true, typical Chianti Classico riserva with 13.5% alcohol.

Next up, Diego poured me a sample of their Valdisanti which is comprised of Cab. Sauv. And Cab Franc., a Bourdeaux inspired wine. The fruit for this wine is sourced from their Tenuta San Giovanni. Notes of baking spice permeate the nose and on the palate, lush red fruit coat the mouth with a lingering of tobacco. A fine wine I must say also with 13% alcohol.

Finishing off, I tried their top of the line Picconero which is a blend of 65% Merlot, Cab. Sauv. and Petit Verdot from the Estate’s Tenuta Montebello. The first appearance is of an intense dark purple color with a nose of dark fruit, tobacco and leather. This wine, like the rest, were very elegant in the mouth, smooth and well balanced. Nothing seemed to be out of place… All in all this was an amazing experience and thanks to Diego’s immense passion and knowledge my tour of Tolaini was made even better than expected. When in Tuscany, I highly recommend a stop at Tolaini! Great travels to everyone…

Categories: Wine Wisdom

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For any inquiries please email me at chris@cantinettavintners.com

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