Podere Marcampo, Volterra

Podere Marcampo, Volterra

“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.”
Paulo Coelho

Podere Marcampo, Volterra, Tuscany

Six years ago two things happened to change my life. First of all I fell in love with Tuscany and then I became a sommelier. These were the starting points allowing me to discover the hidden delights of the Pisa wine country, a charming sun kissed land, stretching from the hills to the sea, blessed by God, as beautiful as unexpected!

Wine runs deep in the veins of Tuscany, being woven into the cultural identity of this central Italian paradise. Pisa wines are synonymous with excellence thanks to the efforts of many skilled professionals.‘Podere Marcampo’ is one of the most important wineries in the area being representative of Pisa and its province.  ‘Pisa Hills is not only a ‘DOC label’ but also a ‘wine road’ playing an increasingly important role in wine production in Tuscany and it is a wine area that is on the rise only recently starting to get the recognition that is deserves. ‘Pisa Hills meanders through the hills of the valley of the Era River and the lower part of the Arno Valley crossing a territory with traditions dating back to the time of the Etruscans. If you head towards this entrancing place you will be greeted by an environment almost untouched by modernity ranging from picturesque scenery of mesmerising color set amongst the trees to places where wine and oil are still cultivated and produced in the traditional way. ‘Podere Marcampo’ is an organic biodynamic wine estate which reflects all the beauty and wine production potential of the ‘Pisa Hills’ area.

Claudia del Duca

I sipped the elegant ‘Podere Marcampo’ wines for the first time at ‘Terre di Toscana’, a wine exhibition which took place at the ‘Luna Hotel’ in Viarreggio. I really liked these wines and Claudia Del Duca, the owner of ‘Podere Marcampo’, described them with reverence.

Claudia was very friendly, professional and kind, though what impressed me the most about her was her dedication to her work and her love for wine which was shared with her parents Genuino and Ivana. I promised myself to return again to her winery for another memorable experience! I arrived at ‘Podere Marcampo’ on a rainy day in late November in Volterra. ‘Podere Marcampo’ is a family farm business which produces both excellent and also rare red and white wines, extra virgin olive oil and grappa. At the front of her estate surrounded by lush and verdant countryside, Claudia welcomed me with a big smile. Looking at this scene where sky and sea converge at the Tuscan horizon in an endless embrace I felt overcome with emotion as we sat down in a small patio near the front of her private residence, where we talked about the history of her family . 

Genuino del Duca

Claudia explained that ‘Podere Marcampo’ was born in 1971 when her father Genuino , having been promoted at work as a policeman, had moved from Abruzzo to Volterra and came up with the idea of transforming his passion for food and wine into a full time job. He wanted to create a new career in food and wine, so that he could resign from his day to day work as a policeman, and worked hard to make this dream come true! In the beginning it was not easy, though having climbed through the ranks at work in 2001 he was able to open a small inn in Saline, a small town near Volterra. By 2003 he had earned enough money to be able to open an exclusive restaurant in the center of Volterra, ‘Enoteca del Duca’ which is still running today! In 2005 he managed to buy ‘Marcampo’ a historic homestead, which had been abandoned though captured his heart as well as sparking his imagination. Genuino restored ‘Marcampo’ shortly afterwards transforming it into what ‘Podere Marcampo’ is today, an extraordinary holiday home as well as a farm and winery surrounded by four hectares of countryside, where to produce his wine he takes care of the best local grapes (Vermentino, Merlot, Sangiovese, Pugnitello and Ciliegiolo). Genuino  had to work hard to make his land suitable for wine growing because of the original salt and clay content of the soil. He had to plant the best rootstocks with roots to a maximum depth of 1 meter and having made sure that his preparation has been the best winemaking is now not so much of a challenge as more of an opportunity. Today, ‘Podere Marcampo’ is a real gem situated within the National Park known as ‘Le Balze’, a magical place where visitors can slow down and unwind. There is an outdoor swimming pool, a sunlit terrace, vineyards, gardens and imposing vistas of the Tuscan countryside encouraging guests to explore this modern wine country retreat, a corner of the world created for relaxation of body and soul with manicured cypress trees, sunflowers, olive groves and vineyards.

 

Podere Marcampo Tour

After a short walk through the vineyards Claudia explained the winemaking process starting with the working of the land to the bottling in the wine cellar and this for me was the best part of the tour.

In the tasting room I sampled high quality wines paired with homemade cured meats and local cheeses. ‘Podere Marcampo’ is completely handworked by Genuino and Claudia and is organic, completely free of any pesticides. A couple of million years ago this area lay at the bottom of the sea so the soil is rich in fossil shells and is characterised by a particular geology of sand, silt, clay and limestone which has been stable for centuries giving a complexity, structure and minerality to these well balanced wines. These are the best award winning labels I tasted:

‘Terrablu’: made from Vermentino and Malvasia the grapes are first processed by the modern technique of maceration in order to preserve all the aromas of the variety followed by four months of fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. On the palate there are notes of lime, almond, green apple and white florals with a unique sense of refreshing acidity, its charm being in its delicate, briny nose and long, fresh palate;

‘Giusto alle Balze’: made from a careful and limited selection of 100% Merlot, vinified in stainless steel vats, then aged in oak barrels for 12 months the wine is then left to settle for another 6 months before bottling. It is my favourite wine because of its soft and sensual texture and approachable style being a velvety red wine that pairs well with the best Tuscan foods. This wine has won the Silver Medal at ‘Mondial du Merlot’ in Lugano and the ‘Concours Mondial Merlot’ in Brussels;

‘Severus’: made from a selection of 100% Sangiovese, vinified in stainless steel vats then aged in oak barrels for 12 months, this wine is then left to settle for another 12 months before bottling. Tasting of clove spice and cherries this wine is like drinking Christmas. It is also savoury providing a wide range of tastes from the very earthy and rustic to the rounded and red fruit;

‘Marcampo’: made from 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot, these two varieties are vinified separately in stainless steel vats and blended after 12 months in oak barrels. The wine is left to settle for another 6 months before being bottled. It is a powerful combination of the sweet, juicy, fruit flavors of Merlot and the rustic, sour-cherry tang of Sangiovese. It reminds me of a duet between a soprano and a bass as you can hear each one distinctly since they sing at different frequencies and the feeling is one of absolute pleasure;

‘Genuino’: made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot, these two varieties are vinified separately in stainless steel vats and then blended and bottled after 10 months. ‘Genuino’ is a medium bodied moderately tannic wine with a lovely cherry flavor which impresses with its ruby red, vinous though also fruity and floral, dry and firm taste.

From the start Genuino and Claudia make wines just as they envisage them. Their winemaking takes its course, the grapes being gently guided through a gentle process until they arrive at carefully selected barrels for resting, maturing and evolving. The more I meet the winemakers of Italy, the more I gain an appreciation for what is in my glass. Years of hard work, research and experimentation have gone into tending the vines to create a product that brings so much pleasure and joy to the palate.

Enoteca del Duca restaurant Volterra
Enoteca del Duca restaurant Volterra

L’Enoteca del Duca. Volterra

After our fantastic wine tasting, Genuino , Claudia and myself made our way down to ‘Enoteca del Duca’ their restaurant in the centre of Volterra. Genuino’s wife, Ivana runs this fine and intimate restaurant which is equipped with a terrific outdoor garden and excellent wine cellar housed in a historic building situated between the ‘acropolis’ and ‘Priori Square’

L ‘Enoteca del Duca’ offers gourmet cuisine and the menu changes according to the season and the availability of ingredients. My lunch there was really wonderful and the service impeccable. I tried their best wines along with the ‘burrata’ and vegetable soufflé as well as their home-made pasta in beef broth and their boar stew. The quality of food was outstanding, the ambience wonderfully inviting and the exquisite wine list to die for. When you go, ask to see their beautiful wine cellar which is packed with many unknown treasures! Genuino’s family form a perfect team when it comes to satisfying food and wine lovers. Claudia also organizes cooking classes at their farm demonstrating how to make fresh pasta or ‘focaccia’ whilst also allowing you to discover the secrets of homemade cake making all under the guidance of a professional Italian chef.

Volterra

It was time to go and I thanked Genuino and Claudia warmly for the wonderful memories they had provided me. They had made me feel at home and now I have yet another good reason to return to Volterra to be able to admire its considerable treasures.

Actually I am familiar with Volterra as three years ago I started working there as an English teacher. At the time it was really challenging having to go to Volterra every day from Pisa, considering that I was also attending a sommelier course in Lucca at the time though everything worked out well in the end and now I am really happy.I had enough time during this period to explore Volterra, a delightful, old hamlet full of history dating back to before 7BC with Etruscan, Roman and Medieval art and culture. The narrow streets are full of old are full of old churches, palaces, secret chapels, intimate restaurants and alabaster shops where you can watch artisans at work. Alabaster has long been a big industry in Volterra. Softer and easier to work than marble, this translucent material was traditionally thinly sliced to provide windows for Italy’s medieval churches. The best way to appreciate Volterra is to walk through its cobbled lanes, enjoying the beautiful ‘Palazzo dei Priori’, the Cathedral, the evocative ruins of the ‘Roman Amphitheater’ and the beautiful park dominated by the ‘Medicean Fortress’ with its ‘Rocca del Mastio’.

Other things to see in Volterra include:

The Alabaster Eco Museum’: Volterra has an ancient alabaster tradition. Art fans can watch sculptors at work and can purchase locally made alabaster in the studio shop;

The Etruscan Museum’: The museum is full of rare artefacts from centuries before Christ. There are decorated pot handles and crafted jewellery, the museum’s extensive collection of urns being a reminder that the Etruscans believed that the afterlife could be fun;

The Volterra City Museum and Art Gallery’: Housed in the ‘Minucci-Solaini Palace’, it contains the famous painting ‘The Deposition’ by Rosso Fiorentino;

• ‘Roman Cistern’: Located at the top of the hill by the ‘Medicean Fortress’, the it can be accessed by a winding iron staircase.

In recent years Volterra has attracted international recognition for its connection with the ‘Twilight’ series of books and movies, part of the second movie ‘New Moon’ being set in Volterra though most of the movie was actually filmed in another Tuscan town. More than 2000 years ago Volterra was a key trading center and one of the most important Etruscan cities and was protected by a wall four miles long, twice the length of the wall that encircles Volterra today. You can still see the mighty Etruscan gate, built from volcanic stone.

Tuscany is a pretty large region, and all of it is stunning. There is so much to see and do that I can’t suggest any particula good guide or website! But even in the short time I spent here, there’s so much to recommend to you I don’t even know where to start! It would be a good idea to enjoy any good wines here,  not just to drink them, but to experience the people, places, and cultures  . Even Bacchus, the god of wine, would envy a road trip through Tuscany’s wine heartlands, marveling at the most spectacular scenery on earth. To taste, drink and dine exceedingly well, this magical land has no peers. For who could resist the sumptuous, extravagantly green, the undulating farm fields that look like a painting, the twisty rural roads, the dreamy sunsets, and the circles of trees perched just so in resplendent tableaus? But it’s not just the culture, the art, the food, the wine, and the landscape. Beauty is in the DNA of Tuscans. The  Tuscans consider themselves the inheritors and stewards of a centuries-long legacy of beauty. Every tree that’s planted, every farmhouse that’s restored, every road that’s re-routed — it’s all carefully considered not only on practical or economic merits, but also on aesthetics. Get lost among  this huge amount of artistic wonders! 

Fattoria di Fibbiano

Fattoria di Fibbiano

Pisa Hills Wines

On the 6th December 2018 I attended a Conference Press hold by the Pisa Chamber of Commerce  for the lunch of “Terre di Pisa”, the New Tourist Brand and Project for promoting Pisa’s Cultural Heritage and its Wine Making Tradition.

On that occasion I met Nicola Cantoni, who participated as  moderator and as President of Pisa Consortium Wine . This  was founded in 2018 to protect  the Appellation of  “Terre di Pisa Wines” and to develop an internationally-renowned model for producing High-Quality Wines in Pisa and its Province.  That event was open to the Members of  “Terre di Pisa” , and during our Wine Tasting Break , I had the pleasure to exchange two words with Nicola,who invited me to visit his estate at Fattoria di Fibbiano  in order to comprehend better his Love for his job and his complex and fascinating Tourist & Wine Affair Management in Tuscany. With the sunny season approaching fast, It was time to go to Fattoria di Fibbiano , but It was quite impossible to fix a date ,  as Nicola was always really busy  !  I was afraid of losing this great chance to be there, but few days ago  his brother  Matteo Cantoni welcomed me at their  Fattoria di Fibbiano with open arms. I came in this beautiful place as a guest, and  left as a friend! Matteo did everything possible to be available for My Interview and my  Exclusive Wine Tasting despite his daily commitments. Lucky me! As I arrived at Fattoria di Fibbiano , Matteo  greeted me with a friendly smile and a firm handshake. First Matteo told me all about his Family’s History and activity , then I visited the cellar and the vineyards , and finally I had my Great Wine Tasting. I had lots of fun with him for the whole duration of my tour in a sunny day of  March. Moreover, I learned lot of things about this stunning part of Tuscany where his estate is, that is called the Era Valley, close to Pisa and Volterra, which is not well-known to a general public for its Wine production. This territory is fast becoming an essential reference point for Tuscan Wine, indeed for Italian Wine. Matteo‘s Kindness , and  Passion for What he Does  deserve a honorable mention! Let’s discover together his treasure hidden among  Tuscan sunflowers.

Fattoria di Fibbiano’s History

In 1997 Giuseppe Cantoni, with his wife Tiziana and sons Matteo and Nicola, moved from  Lombardy to Tuscany. They were looking for  a successful  Wine Making business living a life far away from the noise of the city and close to nature. Therefore, they purchased a  Medieval Villa at that time, that belonged to the noble family Gherardi del Testa Barasaglia in the 12th century . They  renovated it all and turned it into what Fattoria di Fibbiano is today, a thriving Agricultural Entrepreneurship.

Their adventure from North Italy in Tuscany  was not only the result of a  desire to search for  their El Dorado, but  also  a sign of Destiny printed in one of their first  label “Fonte delle Donne” (“Women Fountain”) .  This exquisite White Wine is made from Colombana, an old grape that grew spontaneously around a miraculous water source near the estate. According to tradition, the Colombana grape was introduced by San Columbanus ‘ followers in the 17th century , when these famous Irish abbots decided to settle here living behind their Milan area. Upon their arrival in their estate, Cantoni Family realized they were not the only foreigners who fell  in love with Tuscany,  finding  the right place where to be ! Bringing to light  the old farmstead was not easy, but all that work  devoted to transform an old ruin into a jewelry was fully rewarded, as Cantoni Family carries on a prospering farming activity today, respecting land and the local traditions. Giuseppe, the father, deals with the General Management of the Middle Age Estate and takes care of the vineyards and countryside. Matteo, the eldest of the two sons, is in charge of Marketing the Wines and his brother, Nicola, is the Winemaker . 

Fattoria di Fibbiano, a Corner of Tuscan Paradise

Fattoria di Fibbiano is not only home to a prestigious Agritourism with a pool,  but also to an exclusive Modern Winery and an amazing Lounge Bar .  It is  located at n. 2 via Fibbiano , in the municipality of Terricciola.

Terricciola is a delicious hamlet surrounded by high walls and defense towers,  in the heart of Tuscan countryside, where History, Culture and Art, join the magnificent Beauty of the Nature in a unique way. Fattoria di Fibbiano is situated in a territory, that has its roots in the culture of the Etruscan civilization, and where Wine is produced  since more than 3000 years and it is  a part of the Local Identity and Culture.  Fibbiano’s philosophy is to continue on this thread of Culture and Tradition, cultivating indigenous grape varieties, suc as Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo, ColorinoS. Colombana, and Vermentino ,  instead of more international grapes. Fattoria di Fibbiano extends over an area of about 20 hectares of vineyards, 5 hectares of olive groves, 12 hectares of woodland and the rest is arable land. Some vineyards (around 2.5 hectares) are over 100 years old and 17.5 hectares are up to 20 years old. This  mixture of Old Vines and New Vines  keeps the vineyard alive, with red grapes planted on the top of the hill, and white grapes on the lower parts.  Due to Fibbiano‘s proximity to the Mediterranean and Ligurian seas, the soil originates from the sea and is rich in fossil shells from the Pliocene epoch, and medium-textured corals .  In terms of climate, this part of Tuscany has warm sea breezes during the day and cooler nights, which helps the grapes to retain acidity and develop flavor. This particular terroir provides to complex Wines with a certain minerality,  and aging capability.  I appreciated a lot of things, above all that Fattoria di Fibbiano is certified organic. Their Practices, Farming and Wine-Growing Methods are truly natural. They even use  their own wood for central heating. Further, this Sustainable Winery uses a solar plant to conserve energy and produce fresh water. They are always ready  to face new challenges, not least of which  exporting 80% of their Wine to the following countries: United States, Canada, Norway, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, China, Russia, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Lebanon, Mexico. 

 

Fibbiano’s Wines 

The best part of this incredible Life Experience was my Top Wine Tasting. I was led to a lovely Wine Bar with a large wooden table full with  Fibbiano  Best Wines and platters of Tuscan salami, pecorino and bread.  I sampled 6 different Wines, guided by Matteo who talked me through what I was enjoying, from the colour/appearance, the bouquet/smell and then the flavor. Each Wine was different, but wonderful in its own way.  I tried Red and White Wines, but the majority of the ones I  tried were Red. Most of them are  made from the Sangiovese grapes and some are mixed with other grapes to produce  new fantastic blends. 

White and Rosé:

Red Wines:

  • Le Pianette IGT Toscana : This is a 70% Sangiovese and 30% Colorino Wine;  It  is aged for 6 months in barrels of Slavonian oak and 3 months in bottle;
  • Casalini Chianti Superiore DOCG : This is an 80% Sangiovese and 20% Ciliegiolo Wine. It is aged for 8 months in barrels of Slavonian oak and 3 months in bottle. It has the typical notes of cherry . It is  a well-structured Wine with smooth tannins;
  • L’Aspetto IGT Toscana :  This is a 50% Sangiovese and 50% Canaiolo Wine. It is aged for 12 months in tonneaux, 6 months in cement tanks, and 6 months in bottle. This is an intense ruby Red Wwine with notes of mature red fruit and spices; 
  • Ceppatella IGT Toscana : This is a 100% Sangiovese Wine, which is made with grapes selected from the oldest vineyard of the estate – it’s a 120 years old vineyard . It is a wine aged for 6 months in tonneaux , 14 months in barrels of Slavonian oak, and 5 months in bottle. It has notes of marmalade, spices, tobacco, and cacao and a long persistence. 

Matteo entertained me happily and answered all my questions  by sharing  the secrets of their Quality Wines: “Sun, soil and patience”! 

Pisa Hills Wines 

Fattoria di Fibbiano offers up a bunch of very Tasty Wines for Wine Lovers and Experts to experience.

Fattoria di Fibbiano is situated predominantly in the Wine Trail of the Pisa Hills, an itinerary through the Tuscan countryside, which highlights many small towns that boast great traditions. It’s an area between Pisa and Volterra, and it  extends in the vicinity of the Arno, Egola and Elsa rivers. It embraces  stunning landscapes and places, such as  Casciana Terme, Capannoli, Chianni, Crespina, Lari, Palaia, Ponsacco, Terricciola, Cascina, Collesalvetti, Fauglia, Laiatico, Lorenzana, Montopoli Valdarno, Peccioli, Pontedera, Santa Luce, San Miniato and Collesalvetti .

The rolling Hills of Pisa  gives birth to Top Red & White Wines:

Like other talented Wine Producers within  this zone , Fattoria Fibbiano is an example  of Pisa’s Great Winemaking Potential, that is  only to be revealed in all its splendour.  I am feeling optimistic that this area is set to receive long overdue attention. Matteo was an Excellent Guide and Wine Educator. It was so natural for him to explain all that concerned his farm and how Wine is made from Grapes to Wine. His Passionate Wine Tasting remains for a long time among my memory . I am eager  to learn much more about the Super Wines of Pisa, that’s why another visit to Fattoria di Fibbiano will be a must!

I can just  imagine myself relaxing and sipping a Glass of Your fabulous Wines under a grape vine trellis with a  view of green cypresses marking the contours of the  gentle Tuscan hills! 

Grazie mille Matteo! 

 

 

Enjoy it! 

Stefania