Tenuta di BisernoClose
The Antinori name resonates throughout the wine world but Marchese Lodovico Antinori is pitched at a unique frequency. Legendary, maverick, genius, headstrong – all apply but his imagination, vision and drive have created unequalled world class wines in the past. This Tenuta de Biserno, his ultimate project, is testimony to his unique talents. Tenuta di Biserno is a 90-hectare estate, situated in coastal, western Tuscany, hidden amongst the hills of Bibbona in the Upper Maremma, cooled by sea breezes – perfect conditions. Lodovico Antinori embarked on this exciting project having sold his famous Bolgheri estate Tenuta dell’Ornellaia. The region, Bibbona, actually borders DOC Bolgheri but the terroir is different. Although both areas are better suited to Bordeaux varietals than the ubiquitous Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc does exceptionally at Biserno as well as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and good proportions of Petit Verdot, which really thrives in these conditions. The wines are outstanding
Photo: Lodovico Antinoriread more
Lodovico Antinori broke ranks with the eponymous family firm, run by his brother Piero , over three decades ago. In 1981 he began planting vines on an estate he had inherited from his mother, in relatively unknown Bolgheri. Single-minded and determined, he was planting on practically uncharted territory in a remote, even ignored area of coastal Tuscany.
Conforming to local custom would have dictated the planting of failsafe, indigenous Sangiovese. However, conformity and Lodovico are ill-suited bedfellows. In his eyes, the geology and relatively cool climate of Bolgheri begged for the land to be planted with classic Bordeaux varietals ¬– and so it came to pass. Tenuta dell’Ornellaia was born.
By the mid-Nineties, both Ornellaia and Masseto – a unique Merlot plot from a button of clay on the Ornellaia estate – had both achieved heady reputations and a place in history. The success of Ornellaia, and Masseto as its standard bearer, really opened up the world’s eyes to Bolgheri as a world-class wine-producing region and arguably was responsible for the creation of one of the smallest and most prestigious of Italy’s DOCs. Masseto was the jewel in the crown.
In 2002, incomprehensibly to outside observers, Lodovico sold out. He did not however last long in exile and was soon motivated by a new vision and focus for his febrile imagination.
Lodovico had spotted the property which would become Tenuta di Biserno in 1994, when he was scouting for land suitable for extending Ornellaia. What he saw excited him but he recognised that the geology and geography was so different from that of Ornellaia, hillier and stonier, that it would have to be a separate project. Free from Ornellaia, Lodovico entered into a partnership with his brother Marchese Piero Antinori in an historic change in their relationship.
The label of Il Pino di Biserno – the third wine of the estate – fittingly depicts a coat of arms with two wild boar and the motto “In Tempore Uniti” – In Time, Unison. The boar reflects Lodovico’s passion for hunting though Marchese Piero points out that it portrays two pigs coming together.
Piero is very much the business brain in the background of Biserno. Its vision, energy and soul are hallmark Lodovico, perhaps even more focused than before as he sees this as his ultimate endeavour, a legacy to his young daughter Sophia. Landowner Umberto Mannoni is the third partner.
Tenuta di Biserno – The Vineyard
Tenuta di Biserno is a 90-hectare estate situated in coastal, western Tuscany , hidden amongst the hills of Bibbona in the Upper Maremma . There are beautiful views across to the Tyrrhenian Sea, a constant reminder of its moderating coastal influence.
Within the estate there is a very individual parcel, set apart, which was found to produce wines of a very particular, unique character and personality which everyone in the team decided ought to be fostered. This parcel, Vigna Lodovico, provides the Biserno estate’s flagship wine Lodovico.
It took great imagination to envisage vines on land which had, until then, been given over to forestry although the Bibbona vineyards actually border the DOC of Bolgheri despite marked differences in the geology. However, what Lodovico did observe was a striking resemblance to the soils of Masseto with silt, alluvial sand and that all-important clay – rather atypical in Bolgheri. The soil is also very rich in minerals. Soils not withstanding and other than a strong gut feeling Lodovico cannot really articulate the reasons for his belief that Cabernet Franc would be at its best here. So, echoing Ornellaia, he planted exclusively Bordeaux varietals – though significantly increasing the proportions of Cabernet Franc, followed by Merlot , some Cabernet Sauvignon and surprisingly high proportions of Petit Verdot.
The vineyards are planted at 6,500 vines per hectare, with grass between the rows to restrict the young vines’ natural vigour. High density maritime sediments and clay, on well-sheltered, north-west slopes provide ideal conditions for Merlot whilst free-draining gravelly sites higher up are perfect for the Cabernets. An aspect of terroir which is often overlooked is luminosity. Biserno has excellent light and benefits from cooling breezes and excellent sun exposure.
Biodynamic viticulture remains a goal for the future but the estate already exercises very high maintenance, sustainable agriculture with minimum intervention. Vineyards, often alarmingly quiet places, are here surrounded by constant birdsong and the humming of insects.
Tenuta di Biserno – The People
Lodovico has an unerring ability to spot good people and he has an inspirational team supporting him. Director of viticulture Ranieri Orsini possesses an intimate knowledge of the vineyards and intuitively knows what Lodovico is looking for, having worked with him at Ornellaia for seven years. Ranieri brought with him Luciano Marcheselli as his assistant, also from Ornellaia. They understand, again instinctively, the grape varieties best suited to individual vineyard plots.
Helena Lindberg is the winemaker, tasked with interpreting the ingredients of the vineyards as faithfully as possible. Unusually perhaps, she developed her passion for wine originally working as a food scientist (she has an MSc in Chemical Engineering). She spent two years in the Australia’s Barossa Valley with Yalumba and then moved with the company to New Zealand for a further three years, returning to Europe to study at the Faculté d’Oenologie in the Languedoc. She joined Lodovico in 1994.
Lodovico of course enjoys the continued help and support of his good friend Michel Rolland as consultant. This is a relationship that goes back to Tenuta dell’Ornellaia and Masseto days in the mid-Eighties and remains strong and constant.
Tenuta di Biserno – The Cellar
The grapes for all the wines undergo a particularly rigorous sorting, on a state-of-the-art vibrating sorting table, before being de-stemmed and softly crushed. Fermentation lasts 3 to 4 weeks at 28ºC. Ageing depends on the wine. The malolactic fermentation of Il Pino is achieved 50% in stainless steel, 50% in barrique. 65% is aged for 12 months in new and second year oak, the remaining 35% in stainless steel. There is then 6 months of maturation in bottle pre-release.
Biserno has malolactic fermentation in 80% barrique, 20% stainless steel. Elevage is 15 months in new oak, followed by 12 months in bottle.
Lodovico undergoes alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel after de-stemming and a light crushing followed by 100% malolactic fermentation in barrique and 16 months in new French oak with 12 months in bottle. The result, in this its first vintage, is astounding, surely a legend in the making.
Wines from Tenuta di Biserno available in the shop...
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