Giulio Caporali is proud of his grapes, his wines and his daughters, and not necessarily in that order. He grew up making wine. His career steered him to the railway industry. In the 70s, Guilio decided to get into the wine business, buying a choice piece of land in southern Tuscany, close to Montepulciano.
Tenuta Valdipiatta is a family-owned winery producing about 100,000 bottles a year. And oh what bottles! These are award-winning wines that have shared the spotlight with the much-heralded Super Tuscans Sassicaia and Ornellaia.
Giulio took us through the stunning grounds. He gave us a primer on the status of the vines and the way they are trained to produce the best grapes. Everything here is done by hand. The aging room was dug out of tufa rock. Etruscan relics found on the property are mounted on the walls. And inside the barrels… pure magic.
We started with 100% Pinot Noir, unusual for this area. Critics said it could not be done but Guilio doesn’t really care about going against the grain, or the grape. He follows his own path – something his daughters learned from their father.
Miriam – an economist, runs the winery and Cinzia, a mechanical engineer is co-owner of La Locanda di San Francesco, the most romantic & luxurious B & B in Montepulciano with a wine bar where I first sampled Valdipiatta (in fact our group like it so much we cleaned them out of all 12 bottles that night – hey, before you get judgey, there WERE 8 of us.)
Each tasting came with a story of an evolution, a discovery or a philosophy.
Guilio on Decanting: 90% is theatre. A good wine, is a good wine. But if I were having friends over I would open the bottle the day before. How would you feel if you were locked up in a bottle for 10 years? You need to stretch.
On Super Tuscans: Great marketing strategy.
On Oak Barrels: Russian Oak was the thing until the Revolution and the French saw an opportunity to step in.
Today Valdipiatta uses Slavonian, French and some Russian oak.
I am not sure which I enjoyed most: the wine, which was spectacular or the conversation. Though I know exactly which wine I loved the most. The 2005 Riserva. 100% Sangiovese. So smooth. So spicy. So Savoury – with flavours that live on. When you are only allowed to bring 2 bottles each through Canadian customs, you become rather choosy about what those bottles will be, but the Valdipiatta Riserva has a permanent spot in my heart and my luggage.
Luckily Valdipiatta is available on occasion at the LCBO.
There are dozens of producers of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, but this tasting was one of the best. If you find yourself in the area, I highly recommend it for the wine and for the experience. Go to their web site – www.TenutaValdipiatta.it for a full list of tours and tastings available.