Wine and architecture in Tuscany

In the right hands a winery can be far more than simply a functional centre for processing grapes and producing wine. After all, making great wine is as much an art form as a science

By Lele Gobbi
Nov 02, 2021
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Wine and architecture in Tuscany

In Tuscany, we can find certain wineries that contribute not only to the world of fine wines, but also to the history of local art, and therefore also have an immediate impact on tourism.  

 

Some in the industry would claim that a winery’s objectives must take into account the needs of multiple figures, including the client, the architect, the agronomist, the oenologist, and all the way across the spectrum to the landscape architect.  

 

Which wine estates in Tuscany already correspond to these ambitions?
Let’s look closer at the Tenuta Ammiraglia, Tenuta Le Ripalte, and Caiarossa for an answer. These three wineries are excellent examples of local wineries of (enological) excellence and design, created by great masters of contemporary architecture: genuine temples of wine constructed by the great Pietro Sartogo and Tobia Scarpa.

 

 

These visually stunning buildings, where the masterful local wines are crafted, are seamlessly integrated with the surrounding panoramas, and at the same time, express the most modern production and construction processes.

 

These three wineries also highlight the fundamental themes of sustainability. And not just sustainability as it pertains to ecology (as applied to the worlds of nature and landscapes), but also in parallel to innovative technologies and the worlds of underground architecture.  

 

Tenuta Ammiraglia: Sea-focused Tuscany

Tenuta Ammiraglia dates back to 2011, and represents a more modern Mediterranean facet of Tuscany, in this territory bursting with high-quality wines. The Tenuta also maximizes the territory’s bountiful natural beauty, a land that’s entirely fascinating and yet uncontaminated.  

 

We can find this winery in Magliano in Toscana, in the very heart of southern Maremma. The winery was designed by expert architect Piero Sartogo. Today, the winery is a pure representation of design when working in synchronization with production quality and maximum respect for the surrounding environment. We can see this as the winery itself is entirely integrated into its surrounding landscape.  

 

Perfectly in tune with the hills around it, and shaded by the area’s abundant greenery and trees, the winery structure brings to mind the modern angles and lines of a ship’s prow pointing towards the sea, in search of new horizons as it embodies the finest of modern technological innovation.  

 

Here the vineyards paint evocative geometric patterns on the hills leading to the nearby Tyrrhenian coast. The area reaps the benefits of top-notch sun and light quality, as well as the particularly favorable general conditions created by the beneficial sea breezes.  

 

A local rain basin has recently been constructed in order to further enhance the territory’s unique character. This allows the vineyards to remain irrigated even during the driest months of the year.  

 

All the factors each lend a hand as the Tenuta Ammiraglia ultimately creates wines with exceptional variety and a wealth of aromas that are very site-specific to the Maremma area. 

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The elegant wines of Tenuta Ammiraglia

Pietraregia Morellino di Scansano is a tribute to the local territory and its traditions, whereas he Terre More Maremma Toscana Cabernet DOC (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah) gives us an intense, elegant wine that manages to ethereally exude the land’s warmth and strength. Its spicy notes and vigorous personality go a long way in expressing its ties with the local lands.

 

Last but not least, the Aurea Gran Rosé Toscana IGT is a most elegant rosé wine crafted with Syrah and Vermentino. Finally, we have Massovivo Toscana IGT, a pure Vermentino example with an innate freshness and minerality we love.

 

Caiarossa: an intact and sustainable oasis in the heart of val di cecina

The Caiarossa wine estate has been part of the holdings of Dutch Eric Albada Jelgersma since 2004, joining the wine maker’s Château Giscours and Château du Tertre estates, impressive Grand Crus Classé estates that are part of the prestigious appellation of Château Margaux, north of Bordeaux.

 

Jelgersma devotes much of his interests to wine-making, nourishing these holdings with fundamentals of biodynamic wine-making principles. The connection with nature and earth is ever reaffirmed throughout the estate, with the fundamentals of agriculture being honored daily.

 

Here, the vineyards consistently give rise to a magnificent natural amphitheater that surrounds the Caiarossa property, which is located in the heart of the Val di Cecina area.

 

The wine estate’s geo-biological architecture and adherence to Feng Shui principles define the structure's lights, colors, materials, and substance. The complex also incorporates nature’s innate characteristics to its benefit, taking advantage in this case of the surrounding hillside’s natural slopes in order to carry out specific production phases. During the gravity-based phase of production, the hillside’s gravity proves an ideal match for when the production cycle requires the use of 4 separate floors with distinctive heights.

 

The winery makes the most of its natural woods used in its construction, with an exposed gabled roof that’s simply breathtaking. Also easy on the eyes is the use of concrete for its wine making tanks, where light enters naturally through large windows and reflects off the yellow tints of the interior walls.  

 

In the ageing area, we find the color red instead, as a dominant presence on the external walls in order to create a color-focused connection with the color of the exterior landscapes in the surrounding vineyard.  

 

The personality of Caiarossa's wines

The wines of Caiarossa exude a strong sense of personality, the result of attentive, precise grape selections. The end result is a sapidiy that comes through as a sweetness during the wines’ first years of bottle aging. The wines also obtain distinctive high-quality tannins and a melodic, rich, evocative complexity.  

 

Caiarossa, the top of the line of the wine selection, is a red wine with a refined tannins presence. The wine is exemplary thanks to the purity of its bouquet, and its instinctive elegance on the palate.  

 

The Caiarossa white wine instead, is equally energetic and finely proportioned. The wine features a lively mineral content perfectly integrated with the wine’s mature, floral tones with a lingering finish.  

 

Oro di Caiarossa is a sweet passito. This wine is dense, juicy, and characterized by clear aromatic notes of candied citrus fruit, whereas the Caiaraossa Pergolaia selection succeeds in combining depth and thickness, resulting in a level of excellent drinkability.

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Tenuta Ripalte: Elba’s own corner of paradise

Heading on to the idyllic Tuscan island of Elba, we can still find a corner that’s mainly wild and untouched - meet the Capoliveri area. Here, we can find a wine estate with many ties to the hospitality and tourism industries. 

 

The concept of “natural isolation” finds great resonance here, with vineyards and estate structures impeccably restored and maintained in a fashion that recalls the area’s flourishing Mediterranean scrub.

 

The freshness of Tenuta Ripalte's wines

This winery was completely restored by 2010 by the renowned architect Tobia Scarpa. Overlooking the stone slope on the property, the renovations serve to enhance the natural stones’ properties, and result in an increased perception of rhyme and momentum in the winery’s openings.

 

The narrow sides of the building virtually disappear into the surrounding earth, while on the other side of the building, the shape creates a wedge in the ground, adhering strictly to the local building regulations, creating a modern distribution of space worthy of the most highly-regarded vertical wine estates.  

 

The views from this winery are simply magnificent, and sweep more than 180° to the south, so that on particularly clear days, the eastern Tuscan coast of Castiglion della Pescaia and Marina di Grosseto can easily be identified. Heading further south, the area of Argentario can be identified, while to the south and smack-dab in the middle of the waters, you can spot the island of Giglio, followed by Montecristo and Pianosa headin west.  

 

Le Ripalte Estate's crisp wines

The wines from Le Ripalte are willfully fresh and a delight to drink. Mediterranean tastes and aromas are present, asserting the excellent wine-making process used to create these intriguing selections. Bianco delle Ripalte (predominantly Vermentino with a small part of Petit Manseng) is a notable wine thanks to the presence of fruit, great minerality and notable sapidity.  

 

Rosato delle Ripalte (predominantly Alicante and a small segment of Carignano) is a lovely fruity, floral selection. The wine features a silky tannic texture, with a delightfully fresh and mineral aroma.  

 

Why we should visit these wineries and enjoy their vintages?

With many reasons that these wineries merit a visit and their wines a tasting, the most important reasons can be boiled down to the following: because great masters of contemporary architecture have hand-created these masterful wine estates. 

 

Because the wineries are beautifully incorporated and integrated into their surrounding landscapes. And finally, because the inclusion of advanced construction techniques and materials is perfectly paired with the creation of tremendous high-quality wine selections.

 

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