Tuscan Terroir in London

On a chilly evening last week, the historic London Sketch Club came alive with a celebration of wine, music and film inspired by the Castello Potentino, an authentically restored castle on the slope of the Monte Amiata south of Siena. Winegrower, Charlotte Horton, pictured here with the Lochrian String Quartet, opened the evening talking about the importance of “place” (terroir). She spoke about the roots of the vines running deep in a very physical way, seeking water and pulling in minerals.

castleHer grapes grow in volcanic soil, surrounded by deep forests at high altitude with big swings in temperature between night and day. Because she farms organically and uses natural methods in the cellar (fermentation with indigenous yeasts), the wine speaks strongly of this wild and pristine place.

She, and her brother, Alexander Greene, offered four Potentino wines for tasting at the event…
all bottles

Piropo 2011 Pinot Nero. Charlotte’s flagship with such earthy elegance…very fine and crisp.
Sacromonte 2009 Sangiovese. Lovely fresh version of this classic Tuscan native variety.
Jaspidem 2012 Sangiovese rosato. A rosé that is refreshing and clean but has enough structure to pair well with food.
Lyncurio 2014 Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) vinified as white wine…think champagne. This wine was the talk of the party. It was light, very dry and easy to drink, but complex at the same time.
White Pinot Nero
When I was at Castello Potentino two years ago, Charlotte had just began bottling it, and spoke to me about it.

Along with the wines, guests were treated to a live performance of Mark Springer’s Potentino Concerto, inspired by his various stays at the castle. Mark explained that the movements represent a passage through the annual lifecycle of the grapes beginning with the vines coming to life in the spring and ending when they are brought into the cellar in the fall.
Mark explaining

Then, he and the Lochrian Quartet from Bristol played the piece in a way that invited the audience in.
strings

To get a sense of Mark’s experience at Potentino and the harmonious but vivacious nature of the music, watch this video. The mood, tenor and character of the music changes with seasons.

The finale was Chronotope, an abstract film about Potentino set to Mark Springer’s piano music that plays with the idea of merging time and space. It was filmed and produced by John Maybury, a British filmmaker whose other credits include: Love is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon, The Edge of Love about Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, and The Jacket, a thriller staring Keira Knightly based on a Jack London story.

In this frame, an aerial view of the trees around the castle becomes an abstract canvas of green.
film

It was a festive evening in a place whose roots run deep in London. The London Sketch Club was founded in the nineteenth century as an organization for artists and illustrators. The Club has changed with the times (chronology) but maintains an authentic aura. The artists were just packing up their easels as the barmen were setting up the event!

Charlotte and Alexander are planning a series of events and weekend workshops over the next few months. For more info on those or to stay at the castle write vino@potentino.com.

Other Blog Posts:
Ancient Wine Basins
Making Wine By Hand and By Foot Etruscan Style
Wine and Classical Music on the Monte Amiata

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