Castello di Potentino: Ancient Wine Basins In Volcanic Terroir

Charlotte Horton, who makes exceptional wines on a pristine slope of the Monte Amiata, is spearheading research on the ancient wine basins she and others have found there. She recently hosted a presentation of Graziano Mantiloni’s book on the topic at Castle Potentino.

On the evening of the presentation, she showed attendees articles about research that she and others are doing.

The winemaking stones tend to be constructed with a larger, square basin joined by a spout to a smaller round basin. There is evidence that the basins on the Amiata and elsewhere in Italy date back to the Etruscans. The twenty basins documented in Mantiloni’s book exceed the capacity for what would have been local consumption. They are strategically placed near rivers where the wine would have been shipped down to the sea for trading.

In this video, Charlotte explains how she first discovered the basins and how they function. Beginning seven years ago, she makes wine in the basin near the Castle. She was initially surprised at how elegant and full of color and taste the wine turned out. She realized that the volcanic rock basins pulls lots of tannin and color from the skins of the grapes, and the sediment (minuscule particles of rock that crumble off) perform a natural filtration as they pass through the wine and rest in the bottom of the fermentation vat.

The same terroir that gives her such good wine now did the same for the Etruscans (volcanic soil, sunny slope of the mountain at relatively high altitude, large changes between day and nighttime temperatures, sea breezes to keep grapes healthy and mitigate climate).

She went on to explain that these Etruscan Wine Basins, known as pestarole, have been found throughout Italy, notably in volcanic areas.

We also enjoyed drinking Potentino wines:
Castello di Potentino Sacromonte Toscana IGT 2011
100% Sangiovese. Fresh and clean with lots of minerality. Different from Chianti Sangiovese because of the high altitude and volcanic soil.

Castello di Potentino Piropo Toscana IGT 2011
100% Pinot Noir (Pinot Nero). Charlotte was the first to discover what a natural terroir the Amiata is for this variety. I still remember my first taste of the wine. Elegant, clean, fresh with delicate and complex aromas and flavors from this wild and beautiful spot.

Charlotte works with the philosophy of allowing the grapes and the place to express themselves, doing minimal intervention in the cellar.

Almost unbelievably, all Potentino grapes are pressed using this hand press. (I don’t know of any other vineyard that does this.)

The grapes ferment with indigenous yeasts in these wooden vats, tini di legno.

Then, age in large wooden barrels. No barriques.

At Potentino, wine is an intimate expression of place, history and culture.
Read post: Castello Potentino, Wine and Classical Music on the Amiata

Castello Potentino
Potentino Società Agricola SRL
Seggiano 58038 (GR) Italy
+39 0564 950014

On my Wine Database

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