Tenuta di Trinoro lies in southern Tuscany in the Val d'Orcia – far removed from the ochre hues of Chiantishire. This is an amazing property, the brainchild of Andrea Franchetti who created Trinoro, from scratch, against all the odds, producing trail-blazing wines which turned heads from the outset. Tenuta di Trinoro lies between 500 and 700 metres above sea level, facing west-south-west and is protected by two mountains, Cetona and Amiata, which flank the ten mile wide valley. The climate is continental, with very hot days but cool autumnal nights. Dry, it is perfect for prolonged ripening. Planting at 10,000 vines per hectare and pruning back to five clusters per vine greatly restricts yield and concentrates the grapes so that the wines exhibit astonishing richness and complexity. The grapes are picked bunch by bunch, with several passages through the vines to ensure optimum ripeness. No herbicides or pesticides are used and the only fertiliser is from vine cuttings.
Andrea Franchetti is an enthusiastic apologist for the great wines of Bordeaux. Knowing Bordeaux so well, having studied there, he is absolutely convinced by the concept of terroir. In a vivid, extraordinary flight of imagination, Andrea determined that the plot of land destined to become Tenuta di Trinoro was ideally suited to produce one of the best red wines in Italy – quite a challenge. Is it recklessness, daring or genius which drives such ambition? Quite apart from any other considerations, such as centuries of know-how, history and tradition behind others wines, Andrea did not yet even have a vineyard. There was only a steep slope of wooded scrubland and a couple of dilapidated buildings without access roads: the surrounding countryside was almost uniquely populated by sheep. All of these impediments seem to have had little bearing on Andrea's determination to produce top quality wine here. Had Andrea Franchetti been offered the two diverging roads in Robert Frost's famous poem, one suspects that he would have built a third.
After clearing the land and building terraces, soil analysis helped inform Andrea’s choice of varietals for planting. So steeped in Bordeaux when he arrived, Andrea did not even particularly like Italian wine, favouring Bordeaux styles. After examining the soil – clay and fossil-rich limestone and gravels which he dubs the Graves and Côtes, he elected to plant Bordeaux varietals, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, spurning the region's haloed Sangiovese. He also has small parcels of indigenous vines Cesanese d'Affile and Uva de Troia. In fact, Andrea’s reverential attitude to Bordeaux still allows him to question their relative disregard towards Cabernet Franc – which Andrea favours over Cabernet Sauvignon. Likewise he is a great supporter of Petit Verdot, which does brilliantly at Trinoro.
Tenuta di Trinoro – winemaking philosophy
Rather reticent about his role, Andrea plays down the impact he has on Trinoro terroir but he can have over fifty vats on the go at one time, each fermenting for around ten days. The extended nature of the harvest means supervision is required over two months. On average, there is one pumping over per day, with the cap being punched down three times a day.
Tenuta di Trinoro – the wines
There are currently just two wines emerging from Trinoro; Le Cupole di Trinoro and Tenuta di Trinoro. The award-winning Palazzi, a gorgeous Merlot with Cabernet Franc was dismissed ultimately by Andrea as being a bit too straightforward and despite rancorous objections, he simply doesn’t make it any more. The wines are legally designed indicazione geografica tipica – a misnomer if ever there was one. There is nothing typical about Andrea nor his wines.
Tenuta di Trinoro
Andrea fashions Tenuta di Trinoro from severely selected grapes which have been rigorously pruned to restrict yields. The vines, after all, are still rather young at around sixteen years. The blend varies according to the ingredients set by the climate and vintage but the most important variety tends to be Cabernet Franc, with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon playing second fiddle. A sizeable quantity of Petit Verdot adds intrigue and complexity.
Le Cupole di Trinoro
By no stretch of the imagination can Le Cupole be considered a second wine. It is undeniably a very great wine in its own right. Again, the blend changes with every vintage, but is usually Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, in decreasing proportions, often with a small percentage of indigenous varietals Cesanese d’Affile and Uva di Troia.
It is difficult to imagine that this was uncharted wasteland just twenty years before Andrea put his unique stamp on it – eccentricity and genius in equal measure. The wines are phenomenal.