I am super excited and honored to be the one bringing the Le Coste wines to San Francisco and Los Angeles and very soon in New York and New Jersey. Gianmarco Antonuzi and Clementine Bouveron are the husband and wife team behind this amazing reality. They both worked in Alsace for the iconic Schueller and once married, they relocated in Italy and bought a beautiful abandoned piece of land in Gradoli, facing Lake Bolsena, at the border of Tuscany. Their approach is extremely strict and based on byodinamic principles. These are some of the most natural wines of Italy. Extremely pure and expressive, they are a joy to drink.
Here is some info about the winery and the wines:
Fruit of a passionate interest in wine and the desire to revalue a magnificent territory, Le Coste Vineyard began in February 2004 with the purchase of three hectares of abandoned land known as “Le Coste”, which had once been a “garden” of vines and olives. The vineyard has since grown and now covers about 14 hectares, 3 of young vines planted by us, 4 of old vines (40 to 60 years of age) which we rent, 4 of olive trees, and 3 of ancient terraces returned to woodland which we intend to clear in order to reintroduce the old system of mixed farming and the rearing of local breeds of animals for both meat and milk.
The vineyard is situated in Gradoli, in the province of Viterbo, on the border with Tuscany, 40 kms from the Mediterranean coast and about 150kms from Rome. Lying at 450ms above sea level, in the hills overlooking the Lake of Bolsena (of recent volcanic origin, about one million years old), the soil is loose and friable, derived from the underlying volcanic rocks and ashes, rich in iron and minerals.
On all the property we practice “natural” agriculture, without any official certification, but with great respect for the environment, in order to create a natural balance which intensive farming would certainly disturb. To this end we cultivate mixed crops, vines, olives, fruit trees and green manures.
The first vines were planted in 2005 with the intention to create a healthy and long living vineyard, where the plants grow strong and healthy from the start. We chose a high density of planting, (10000 plants per hectare) as in the past, to favour a healthy competition between the plants and control their productivity. A third of the plants were rooted cuttings, and two thirds were grafted onto rootstock in the field as dormant buds in August 2006. They are the traditional vines of the area, chosen carefully from the remaining old vineyards, all grown as a low bush sustained by a post of chestnut wood.
Red grapes: Greghetto and Aleatico, Ciliegio, Canaiolo, Colorino and Vaiano.
White grapes: Procanico, Moscato, Malvasia, Ansonico, Verdello, Greco, Roscetto, Vermentino, Petino and Romanesco.
.While waiting for these vines to begin producing, we rented about 4 hectares of old vines in the hills around the lake, some cultivated in the old way on narrow terraces called “rasole”, others in open fields together with olive and fruit trees.
In 2010 we planted another 7000m2 of vines on former pasture next to Le Coste, facing south/south east, using the same choice of varieties and the same kind of grafting and pruning. Soon we intend to plant the last and lowest terrace at Le Coste, an area of about 6000m2 facing south east.
To favour the development of humus and a natural fertility, we do not use chemical fertilizers or mineralized organic fertilizers, only our own compost and horn manure 500 preparation.
For weed control and to aerate the soil we limit ourselves to two mechanical diggings and two or three hand diggings between the vines and around the olive trees. On the new vines, the planting density and cultivation as a low bush on a post allows us to work in both directions. We spray with natural sulphur and copper sulphate, helped by biodynamic preparations such as horn silica 501 in the growing season, and infusions of horsetail, yarrow, willow and nettle to discourage the growth of parasitic fungal diseases.
HOW WE PRODUCE OUR WINE.
We harvest by hand from the beginning of September (for early varieties like Aleatico and the old Moscato), up until the beginning of October. The wine is made without technological processing or chemical additives; fermentation occurs spontaneously due to indigenous yeasts without adding sulphur dioxide; malolactic fermentation follows naturally, usually after the alcoholic fermentation, sometimes ending in the spring.
Winemaking varies from season to season depending on the maturity and health of the grapes, the variety and age of the vines. We choose grapes from particular vines according to the wine we wish to make, using several methods of natural fermentation; with skins, with or without stalks, in containers of resin or of wood, carbonic maceration, ageing in vats or in barrels of various sizes.
After one siphoning to prepare the bulk, all the wines are bottled by gravity, without filtering or adding clearing agents or sulphur dioxide.
Currently we produce about 25000 bottles, with more than 14 different wines which vary from year to year depending on the season. A general guide to our wines:
Bianco (white): 80% Procanico, with Tuscan Malvasia, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia Puntinata, Vermentino, Greco, Ansonico and other grapes, macerated briefly with the skins, fermented in vats for about three weeks, matured in barrels of various sizes for about a year.
Le Coste Bianco : 85% Procanico, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia Puntinata, Vermentino, Roscetto, Verdello, Greco Antico, Ansonico, all from Le Coste, crushed briefly by foot, pressed and decanted for a few days, then fermented slowly in a 12 hl barrel of French oak in a natural cave for about a year.
Bianco Vecchie Vigne: Procanico and other local varieties chosen from the best of the old vines (averaging 50 years old), pressed immediately. The first free running must is fermented in barrels of 5 or 10hl of French oak where it ages for about 2 years.
Bianco del Paino: 100% Procanico, the best grapes from plants of limited production (only about 400 grams per plant), picked last, sometimes with a little “muffa nobile”. After removing all the stalks, the grapes ferment with their skins in open wooden vats for between one and three months depending on the season; the wine then ages for 24 months in demi muid (600 litre oak barrels).
Rosato (rosé): made from Aleatico grapes, macerated with the skins for about a week, then fermented in small barrels of Slavonian oak for about six months, where it then ages for another 12 months before bottling.
Rosso (red): mainly Greghetto (a local variety of Sangiovese), with a little Cannaiolo, Colorino, Ciliegiolo, and Vaiano, as they grow mixed on the vines. Fermented for about a month with the skins in vats of French oak and chestnut, then matured for about a year in barrels of Slavonian oak.
Le Coste Rosso: made from the local Greghetto and older strains of Sangiovese, cru Le Coste. Yielding naturally about 30hl per hectare, the whole grapes are macerated in open vats of French oak where they ferment for about two months. After pressing, the wine ages for about two years in small barrels (6 or 7 hl).
Carbo’: (not produced every year). This wine is made from the carbonic maceration of Greghetto and Ciliegio grapes from an old vineyard, in flattened cone shaped vats of French oak for about two months. After pressing the wine finishes fermenting and ages for about two years in demi muid of French oak.
Rosso Riserva: a wine produced instead of Rosso Più, in exceptionally good years using only the highest quality Greghetto grapes from the best of the old vineyards, depending both on the season and on the quality testing of each vineyard. After removing some of the stalks, the must ferments with the skins in chestnut vats for about two months, then ages for 12 months in demi muid, and for a further 12mths after bottling.
Alea Jacta Est: made from an ancient local grape variety, Aleatico, picked a little over ripe. The whole grapes ferment with their skins for about two months, in open vats of French oak. After pressing the wine ages in small 700 litre barrels.
Litrozzo Bianco, Rosso, Rosato: wines produced naturally with the grapes from the pergolas, table grapes and those of lesser quality, with the idea of offering a light unpretentious wine, table wine as it used to be, to drink with meals every day.