The Tuscany region is responsible for producing some of the greatest wines that Italy has to offer, but there are times when the larger producers who call it home overshadow smaller ones that are just as capable of providing consumers with fine wines that are capable of enchanting with their complex aromas and wonderful taste.
This week, instead of focusing on a winemaker from the region that is already well-known throughout the world, we have decided to take a look at a producer that has quietly been building a reputation for quality since it was founded. Today, we look at Argentiera.
Not to be confused with the Sardinian ghost town that shares its name, Argentiera calls the beautiful coast of the Alta Maremma its home. This beautiful seaside location, that is approximately a hundred kilometres from the city of Florence, is where the DOC region of Bolgheri is located and, nestled within that small area lies Tenuta Argentiera.
The estate is a beautiful reminder of classical Florentine architecture and design, which should come as no surprise seeing as it has been developed around the old Estate of Donoratico, which was once owned by the Serristori family. The name may sound familiar to those who have visited the palazzo that also bears their name and at one point in Florentine history they were amongst the most powerful families that the city had to offer. Given the political strength of many of the old Florentine families, this is no small boast.
Despite this rich history, the story of the estate actually stretches back even further. In Etruscan times, when the winemaking industry was in its infancy, the plateau of Tenuta that lends the company its name was actually rich in natural springs, waterways and silver mines, all of which contributed to the unique qualities of the land that is now used to grow the grapes used in Tenuta Argentiera’s wines.
Though no longer an important mining area, Tenuta still carries its reputation for agriculture, which is embodied now in this wonderful company that is owned by Stanislaus Turnauer and brothers Corrado and Marcello Fratini.
These men have always placed their land at the forefront of their business decisions, ensuring it continues to embody the qualities that make the wines it produces so special in the first place. In every way possible they celebrate the virtues of the land that has allowed them to introduce their wines to the world, placing their focus predominantly on red varieties and spending hours upon hours tending their vineyards to ensure they produce the best possible crop while also giving back to the land itself.
The estate is made up of 500 hectares, 75 of which have been planted with specialised vineyards that fall into the DOC Bolgheri region we mentioned previously. While these are perhaps the more famous areas to cultivate, much of the 500 hectares is also made up of grapes that go into the production of the company’s IGT Toscana wines, with annual production reaching 500,000 bottles per year.
However, let’s take another moment to focus on the parts of the estate that fall within the DOC Bolgheri region. With a wine so infamous for its quality, it is important for producers to offer something that sets them apart from everybody else. In Tenuta Argentiera’s case, that something is the fact that the estate lies closest to the sea of any in the DOC Bolgheri region, while also reaching the highest altitudes. This variance between plains and hills, coupled with the unique conditions offered by being so close to the coast, allows the wines produced by the company to take on a special flavour that bears all of the hallmarks of this famous region, while also offering something unique to Tenuta Argentiera as well.
Surrounded by beautiful Mediterranean vegetation that is coaxed out of the ground by the seaside climate, alongside gorgeous maritime pines and olive groves, the countryside surrounding the estate is made up of lush vegetation that both makes the estate look wonderful at all times and contributes to the quality of the grapes that are grown there. In fact, many visitors to the region comment on the remarkable aroma that greets them upon arrival and this can be put down to this remarkable and varied landscape.
As for the grapes, Tenuta Argentiera specializes in growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah, each of which have become typical of the DOC Bolgheri region.
However, for all of this focus on DOC regions, the wine we will be examining in more detail this month actually carries the IGT Toscano designation. Using 100% Cabernet Franc, it stands as one of the most remarkable wines produced by the company and demonstrates that their expertise extends far beyond Bolgheri and their passion makes them capable of producing unique wines that offer something entirely different.
The first thing you will notice upon pouring a glass of Argentiera Cabernet Franc Lavinia Maria 2012 is the beautifully deep ruby red colouring, which almost shimmers in the glass as you take a moment to admire it. The purple hues that whisk their way through this deep red are equally enchanting, offering the glimmer of promise for the wine you are about to enjoy.
When introduced to the nose, the wine absorbs the drinker with a fruity bouquet that offers notes of plums, cassis and blackberries. Exploring these scents a little deeper will also reveal notes of black pepper, cloves, mint and eucalyptus, demonstrating just how much of an effect the unique climate and conditions offered by the land have had on the wine it produces.
Once tasted, these notes intensify, with the plum and blackberry taking the wheel. As you drink you will notice that the body of the wine is beautifully structured, offering complexity in flavour while also being defined and elegant with a silky smooth texture.
The lingering aftertaste of plum is a final reminder of the quality of the wine and encourages you to take just one more sip so you can enjoy this unique blend of flavours all over again.