New arrival seeks Super Tuscan status

A recently established Italian producer is positioning itself as a new addition to the region’s prestigious Super Tuscan movement.

Monteverro-Monteverro-2011Monteverro began its modern incarnation in 2003, when the 50 hectare estate located one hour south of Bolgheri and 3 kilometres from the coast was bought by German businessman Georg Weber. To date 27ha have been planted and the custom built winery, which employs Michel Rolland as consultant, produced its first vintage in 2008.

Citing producers such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia, Monteverro sale & marketing manager Olympia Romba told the drinks business: “The biggest names in Italy are in this category and so our goal is to be named in this category also. It’s about philosophy and brand building.”

While acknowledging the ambitious nature of this mission to be viewed as a member of this unofficial but exclusive category, Romba pointed to promising progress so far. “In the beginning everyone was very sceptical saying ‘Who needs another Super Tuscan?’”, she recalled. “But once I made people taste the wines they absolutely convinced them. Of course the project is very young and the vines are very young, but after a very strict selection the wines convince.”

Current annual production at the estate stands at around 120,000 bottles. Of this, the majority is accounted for by its €30 second wine Terra di Monteverro at 50-60,000 bottles and €100 flagship Monteverro at 20,000 bottles. Both wines are Bordeaux style blends dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with Merlot and Petit Verdot in supporting roles.

“At the moment it is only a barrel selection,” remarked Romba of the current distinction between the two wines. “But our vineyard manager is getting to know the sites better so it will be more and more a parcel selection in future.”

Driven by his love of Rhône and Burgundy wines, Weber hired soil specialist consultants Claude and Lydia Bourguignon to identify the most appropriate sites for planting small plots of Chardonnay, Syrah and Grenache alongside the estate’s core focus on Bordeaux varieties.

The 2ha of Syrah and Grenache appear in the estate’s €75 Tinata blend. Although Syrah is today reasonably widely planted in Tuscany, Rombo claimed: “We are the only ones doing a really classic Côtes du Rhône style.”

Since 2010 Monteverro’s winemaking team has vinified half its €75 per bottle Chardonnay production in 1,600 litre concrete “eggs”. “Before we invested in concrete eggs, the wines tasted much more like Napa Valley Chardonnay which we didn’t want,” remarked Romba. “Our aim is to be Burgundian.”

The 2013 vintage saw the addition of a €15 Vermentino to the Monteverro range. “I felt I needed something more approachable than Chardonnay and also in Italy we needed an Italian grape variety,” explained Rombo. In addition, she continued, “Chardonnay is a gorgeous wine but it’s too sophisticated for hot summer days.”

Four vintages on from their debut, the Monteverro wines are currently distributed in 25 countries, with Germany and Switzerland the most significant, followed by the UK and their domestic Italian market.

Although suggesting that there remained “a lot of potential” in the US market, which has traditionally proved particularly receptive to the Super Tuscans, Rombo insisted that she saw “huge potential” in the UK, where the producer is represented by Bancroft Wines.

“The UK is very, very important,” she maintained, describing the market as “very knowledgeable”. As for the wider potential for Super Tuscan wines in the UK, she noted that this market “is very loyal to Bordeaux but with the recent ups and downs people are now saying that perhaps there are other regions.”

With growing evidence of diversification within the fine wine market, which saw trading platform Liv–ex introduce a new index, the Fine Wine 1000, at the beginning of this year, Rombo observed: “It’s a very interesting moment for high end Italian wine at the moment.”

In particular, she echoed others in the trade who have recently pointed to the relative value offered by Super Tuscan wines. “We’re seeing all these price evolutions in Bordeaux and at the end of the day people want high end wines at good value”, she remarked. “Super Tuscan wines are absolutely the right product to fill this gap; they have the style and presence of Bordeaux.”

Setting out the company’s future ambitions, Romba revealed: “First of all we want to raise production in our Bordeaux varieties.” On the commercial front, she continued: “We want to build our brand, but not only talking about ratings – it’s about brand recognition. We want to be in the right countries, the right places and the right restaurants.”

One Response to “New arrival seeks Super Tuscan status”

  1. We have the Red Road Winery in Texarkana, TX We represent approximately 45 Texas winery’s out of our store front and get wines of the world from a supplier in north Texas. To get started what would your price and minimum quantity be. We are assuming your wines are mainly dry reds? Please advise if interested in starting at the ground level with a unique small winery but with a vision for great future growth. Could you send a sample or two of the wines you feel would be readily acceptable in our southern portion of the USA. Could you ship shiners where we could private label for our more discriminating customers? Thank you for interest and consideration. Also, indicate your retail prices charged locally…………………..fay j durrant

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