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La Calcinara

La Calcinara

Monte Cònero, the mountain inland from the port of Ancona, gives its name to a local DOC wine as well as a DOCG Risera. This wine is produced at a vineyard called La Calcinara and here we met Eleonora who, together with her brother, Paolo, founded the business in its current form. There is a family background in wine on this land; their grandfather Gualtiero moved here in the 1970s but he was producing bulk wines sold unbottled, or sfuso as the Italians term it.

After obtaining degrees in viticulture and oenology, the siblings decided to join forces and to move the business in a different direction. The first vines for the new project were planted in 2000 and the first harvest was 2007. Their concerns are sustainability and respect for the environment and, above all, exploring what the vines of Monte Cònero with its particular soil and climate can give to us in wines. Theirs is a small scale operation with a distinctly artisan flavour. They grow just eleven and a half hectares of certified organic vines from which they produce around 42,000 bottles per annum. The red wines from the area around the mountain were granted DOC status in 1967 and in 2004 the Riserva achieved DOCG recognition and it was these that we were anxious to try.

The first wine we sampled was called Cacciatore di Sogni or Dream Hunter and was from 2019. This is made from 100% Montepulciano grapes and is fermented in steel, using naturally occurring yeasts, and spending five days on the skins. The wine then matures for around 12 months, half in botti and half in steel. The colour of the wine was an almost impenetrable dark ruby with a fruity bouquet full of raspberries and blackberries. On the palate there was good acidity with moderate tannins and a definite freshness that would make this a great accompaniment to roast red meat.

We next tried a 2018 named Terra Calcinara Riserva, a DOCG wine. Produced using spontaneous fermentation in open vessels, it remains on the skins for 10 to 12 days with a gentle ‘punching down’ of the floating cap undertaken by hand. It then matures on the lees for two years in oak botti. This is a wine with a lighter colour than the Cacciatore due to the presence of 10% Sangiovese. On the nose there is bitter cherry with a hint of vanilla. In the mouth it is more severe with extra tannins due to the presence of the Sangiovese and the length of time it has spent in oak but these are soft and speak of a wine that has at least 15 years of life and it will become more complex with time. The strong flavour on display here will complement barbecued meat or dishes with truffle – try it also with mature cheese.

The final wine we tasted was again a DOCG Riserva from 2018 but this is made from 100% Montepulciano grapes. They have christened this wine Folle, which translates as crazy; when we explain how it is produced the aptness of the name will become apparent. After fermentation, using indigenous yeast, the wine remains on the skins for up to 7 weeks before spending 12 to 18 months in barrique of French oak. Here, the wine is left on the lees and is periodically stirred, a technique known by the French term batonnage. Finally, the wine is decanted into large cement vessels where it remains for one to two years before being bottled. The result of this insane degree of effort is a colour that is deep ruby. The bouquet is rich and complex with cloves and warm, peppery spices as well as coffee and chocolate. On the palate it is full and well-structured with the strong tannins that come from the oak. The ageing potential for this wine has yet to be fully explored but is at least 15 years. With its strong and complex flavours this is a wine that will accompany wild game or strong mature cheeses or could even be enjoyed on its own as a vino di meditazione.

Eleonora and Paolo have a strong affinity to Monte Cònero and the flavours that can be coaxed from the Montepulciano vines that grow there. However, they are not shackled by tradition as is immediately apparent when you enter the winery with its range of equipment allowing them to constantly experiment. We look forward to tasting the results of their efforts.

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