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It is easy to think that all Tuscan wines taste similar. But recently, I had lunch with Nicolò D’Afflitto, the winemaker for Frescobaldi Toscana who shared the Cru wines from the most prized vineyards in the Frescobaldi portfolio. In my column in the Napa Valley Register, reposted below, Nicolò D’Afflitto shared his thoughts about terroir over variety as we tasted his wine. “A variety can be from anywhere. I sell terroir,” said winemaker Nicolò D’Afflitto as I sat down to have lunch with him.
D’Afflitto is the director of winemaking for Frescobaldi Toscana. The 700-plus year-old Frescobaldi family owns seven estates in Tuscany that cover 1,400 hectares (3,560 acres). He oversees all of the Tuscan estates and, as he believes that the quality of the wine begins with the vine, he manages each of the vineyards as if they were his own children. “I know each vineyard, the rootstock, the clones,” he explained.
D’Afflitto grew up on a farm and studied in Bordeaux. He moved to the U.S. and worked in Monterey before returning to Tuscany to consult. In 1991, Nicolò joined Frescobaldi, working at Castel Giocondo and by 1995 he was overseeing all of the estates.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
For 700 years and 30 generations, the Frescobaldi family has been an iconic name in the wine industry. With an eye on celebrating the diversity of Tuscany’s terroir, the family owns six estates in Tuscany and produces what some consider to be some of Italy’s finest wines.
One of these wines is Luce della Vita from the hill town of Montalcino. A region famous for its Brunello di Montalcino, Luce della Vita was the first winery to blend sangiovese and merlot. The idea was to produce a wine that blended the Old World and New World together, with the traditional sangiovese offering structure and elegance and the non-traditional merlot adding roundness and smoothness. Luce Della Vite, “the light of life”, is a winery that is steeped in tradition while embracing the future.
Luce della Vita was created in 1995, initially as a collaboration between two great winemaking families, Marchese de Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi. Today, the winery is under the sole proprietorship of Lamberto Frescobaldi. The Luce della Vita estate is located southwest of the medieval town of Montalcino. The first vineyards were purchased in 1996, with additional vineyards purchased in 2001 and 2016. Today, there are 88 hectares planted to merlot and sangiovese on southwest-facing vineyards with mixed-clay, sandy schistose and sandstone soils.