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Le Tenute del Leone Alato boosts holdings in Piedmont

Veneto-based wine group Le Tenute del Leone Alato has continued its expansion in Piedmont with the acquisition of the Vigneti Fassione estate in the Colli Tortonesi, including vineyards planted with rare local variety Timorasso.

The estate is based in Monleale in the Val Curone, a small valley a few kilometres form Tortona, in the province of Alessandria  in the south east corner of Piedmont, bordering Lombardy, Liguria and Emilia Romagna. The estate, which was founded in 2018, lies on clay-marl soils, comprises 5 hectares of vineyards, four of which are planted with Timorasso (with an average of age of five year) and one of old vine Barbera, which the company says it will replace with more Timorasso. The estate currently produces around 7,500 bottles a year.

Timorasso, a white white grape variety, capable of producing wines that has “exceptional ageing and evolutionary potential” had been grown in this part of Piedmont for centuries – it is referred to in texts from the 12th century, and in the Middle Ages was considered the leading white grape in the area. Following the Phylloxera outbreak in 1879, the variety fell into disuse, accelerated by the growth and domination of red grapes after the Second World War, but the variety was saved in the 1980s by Italian winemakers Walter Massa and Andrea Mutti. They carefully rescused old vines were possible and planted new ones, sparking a renaissance for the variety. It is worth noting that since 2000, many producers have chosen to label their Timorasso as coming from ‘Derthona’ – the ancient Roman name for Tortona.

The acquisition marks the group’s first venture with the ancient variety, but will boost its holdings in the region. It already has a presence in Monferrato, having  owned Bricco dei Guazzi, including its historic ‘infernot’ cellars, which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, since 1978.

As Leone Alato’s CEO Igor Boccardo said in a statement, the acquisition strengthened the company’s presence in Piedmont.

“The investment in high-quality hectares, such as those of Vigneti Fassone in the Colli Tortonesi, reflects the strategy of the Leone Alato Group,” he said. “[This] aims to increase sales by enhancing high-quality products, thanks to agricultural companies with a strong identity located in regions with the highest viticultural vocation.”

A spokesman told db that the Bricco dei Guazzi philosophy was to maintain “its heart in Monferrato while keeping an eye on Piedmont”.

“The Bricco range has always been characterized by great reds – the Barbera superiore, the Albarossa, the Presidenta blend – but perhaps the most important denomination for whites in Piedmont was missing. In the path of premiumization that we have been pursuing for years, it seemed like a piece that could not be missing in telling the style and authenticity of a territory at its best,” they said.

The expansion is the latest in a recent spree, after the group added its first Tuscan estate, biodynamic producer Duemani to the portfolio in May, including vineyards in Riparbella and Castellina Marittima. Other holdings include Torre Rosazza (Colli Orientali del Friuli), Costa Arènte (Valpantena di Valpolicella), Bricco dei Guazzi (Olivola, in the province of Alessandria), Tenuta Sant’Anna (Eastern Veneto), and Prosecceo brand, V8+.

It also signed distribution deals with estates in Champagne (Maison Burtin in Épernay),  Montalcino (Agricola Pinino) and Salento (Masseria Li Veli) in a bid to expand its portfolio with premium and super premium segments and products “from highly-suitable wine areas where we are still not yet present”.

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