Who: Pierfranca Lattuada, her son, plus Luciano Bandini in the cellar and Elio Galardi in the fields, both part-time.
Where: Gambassi Terme, close to San Gimignano in Southwestern Tuscany
What grapes: Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Malvasia, Canaiolo, Colorino
How many bottles: 15,000
Key facts: Of 37 hectares total, only 5ha are vineyard and 1ha olive grove; the rest is left to nature. Pietralta have a sustainable, integrated approach to farming. The cellar is in a renovated 13th century building.
Pietralta Bianco Toscano IGT
Soil type: Gallestro and red clay-limestone, stony.
Method of fermentation: Saignee method, skin contact for a few hours. Fermentation happens in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks then it is aged in 5hl enameled lined cement tanks.
Pietralta Chianti DOCG
Pietralta Chianti Practicing organic. 85% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and Colorino. From a southeast facing Guyot-trained vineyard planted in 1968 that sits 360 meters above sea level. 3,500 plants per hectare, hand-harvested into small baskets. Vinified in temperature-controlled stainless steel and aged in enamel-lined cement tanks, 12 months in tank and three in bottle before release. 5,000 bottles produced. Acidity 5.5g/l, pH 3.5, 18 mg/l free sulfur.
I drove through San Gimignano for the first time because of Pietralta. It was pretty nice! Sure, tourists were there, but I can see the appeal of a longer visit. Pietralta is close, in the country, nominally in a commune called Gambassi Terme but actually all alone, a cluster of small buildings (and a pool: we are in Tuscany) that are sited quite a distance down a choppy, grated dirt and gravel road. Olive trees are everywhere, and as you approach the cellar and tasting room a significant chunk of the estate’s vines are planted along your path.
“Our wine must be natural.” These statements make me smile. Pierfranca Lattuada continued, “Our oenologist also agrees not to manipulate.”
Pietralta spans 37 hectares, but only six hectares are planted. Olive trees are the other significant agricultural endeavor, but also plenty of space is left forested, full of the wild boar that grace their label. On such a remote-feeling farm it is not surprising that solitude is a preoccupation of Lattuada’s.
“Solivagus, our top award-winning wine, is named after when an animal decides to go off into the woods, alone.” To prepare itself for the next stage of existence.
Pierfranca Lattuada is energetic and very much in charge at Pietralta, but a clear generational transition has been charted. Her twenty-something son was working the vines with one other laborer when I arrived, a sign of a vital, healthy relationship between family and land in the decades ahead. Of all the estates in Tuscany that we represent, Pietralta is the most filled with promise. Today their wines are direct, enjoyable (try not to polish off a bottle of the bianco Toscana on a hot NC afternoon) and capture Gambassi Terme’s more southern terroir with absolute fidelity. There is real potential. You can feel the upward arc.
Lattuada’s son recently completed a two year sommelier’s program at a local university. I sense the application of his keen palate in the current vintages, and am eager to see what this tiny cellar delivers to us in the decades ahead.