From our dock in the port of Livorno, a small group of us drove an hour south to the beautiful Bolgheri wine region on the west coast of Italy. Bolgheri (also the name of the central town in the region) is the newest wine region in Italy and has become very successful over the past few decades, producing some excellent wines, usually in small quantities. Our first stop was at Le Macchiole (winery) where we had a wonderful personal tour, wine tasting and luncheon. Many thanks to our hostess, Veronica, and Chef Gionata d’Alessi of Io Cucion Restaurant in Bibbona (a municipality in the Province of Livorno and the chef’s birthplace) for an outstanding meal.
“A living legend, Le Macchiole is today recognized as one of Tuscany’s finest wine estates. Indeed, Le Macchiole is lauded as much for the consistency and quality of its wines, as it is for opening doors and increasing the sex appeal of the once little known Bolgheri region.
It began with a dream of one very special couple – Eugenio Campolmi and his wife Cinzia Merli. Living a comfortable life running Eugenio’s parents’ retail business, they longed to make wine in Tuscany, and set about exploring the region to discover the perfect site for their ambitions.
In 1983, Eugenio and Cinzia came across a special piece of land in the then largely unheard-of Bolgheri region, just 5 miles from the coast. It was love at first sight – they planted several hectares of international varieties and produced their first vintage in 1987. Released in 1989, the inaugural Paleo Rosso was received to universal critical acclaim, validating the couple’s pioneering strategy of making varietal wines in the Bolgheri coastline. Critics praised the power, elegance and above all the remarkable concentration inherent to their wines, which has only improved since the initial releases.
Sadly, however, Eugenio died in 2002, leaving his widow Cinzia and her brother Massimo to continue his pioneering work and forge a legacy worthy of the family name. Understanding and enhancing their unique terroir has been the overriding aim, with a painstaking amount of work going into vineyard management and matching a particular variety of vine to a special place.
But, as anyone who has sampled these delicious wines will testify, the rewards have more than justified the team’s hard work. Today, Le Macchiole continues to make some of the greatest wines in the region, characterized by their balance, finesse and yet intense aromas and complexity. Accessible on release, the wines will age gracefully for many years.” — www.cellartours.com/italy/italian-wineries/le-macchiole
“It was 2012, and I had been working for Le Macchiole for barely a year when Cinzia told me that she had a project in mind that would help promote the town of Castagneto Carducci: forty-eight 6-liter Magnum bottles of Messorio 2004 — an extraordinary vintage, even unique in some respects — up for sale. ‘How about doing something with the proceeds from the sale- she said- to help our area?’ I thought it over for a few days. Then I suddenly remembered myself as a child going to markets with my uncle, a street vendor, in his white truck and driving along the road to Volterra. Every single time, my eye was attracted to an old, empty billboard frame on the side of the road near Ponteginori. It was somehow ugly and fascinating at the same time: it framed the landscape perfectly, and never the same landscape. Always different views, depending on the angle of vision, the time of the day, the season of the year. And so, a sunset sky was not only beautiful: all it took was a rusty frame to make it a beautiful, framed sunset sky. Basically, a work of art. So I said to myself: why shouldn’t we do the same thing? After all, Carducci used to come to Bolgheri to observe the landscape. Well, yes, his beloved grandmother was there, waiting for him, but he gained inspiration for his poetry by contemplating the natural beauty of our land. Magnificent landscapes, sweet hills and sunsets. I was thinking of maxi frames, framing some of the town’s loveliest views, made of Corten steel, a metal which has a rust-like appearance and, besides bringing me back to my childhood memories, oozes with history and tradition. And then I came up with the idea of doing it in the 16:9 format, which is the international standard format for multimedia, allowing passers-by and tourists to take a picture and post it on social media with the hashtag #messorio04bolgheri. No two photos of the same place will ever look the same, with the background constantly changing, whether because of a cloud, the sunlight, a nuance or the sky a different shade of blue. And, who knows? Maybe someone, though unaware of it, will be lucky enough to see exactly what the Poet saw.” — Antonio Sanna
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