2006 Ciliegiolo San Lorenzo Maremma Toscana IGT

Ciliegiolo •Maremma Toscana IGT

Italy: Tuscany

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What We Say


Today’s unique Tuscan wine is a very special selection indeed. Only once before have we featured a wine that is 100% Ciliegiolo, a unique and rare grape that’s aromas, flavors and texture optimize the region. If you are a fan of Italian wine and have not yet tried Ciliegiolo, then this is one to try!


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Mission Codename: In Search Of More ‘Silly Jell-O’

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Seek out the a wine from the elusive Ciliegiolo varietal

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Sassotondo

Wine Subject: 2006 Ciliegiolo San Lorenzo Maremma Toscana IGT

Winemaker: Edoardo Ventimiglia & Carla Benini


Search for Ciliegiolo in the Sootheby’s Wine Encyclopedia and you wont find it. Do a search for the Ciliegiolo on google and you’ll find a single paragraph on Wikipedia. Try to find a wine from 100% Ciliegiolo and you might only find this one. Extremely rare, the Ciliegiolo varietal is primarily used as a lesser blending grape with Sangiovese in a few Super Tuscans. It is genetically related to Sangiovese. The San Lorenzo cru is located just near the town of Pitigliano in the heart of Tuscany. This particular wine is a cult Super Tuscan and when you taste it you’ll know why. By the way, 2006 was a exceptional year, rated 93 points for the vintage with a ‘hold’ recommendation by Wine Enthusiast.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deep and dark garnet with garnet and ruby red highlights that glisten through its dense but clear core. Along the edges the color remains deep garnet only lightening slightly and when swirled, tightly spaced random clusters of medium thick legs ring the glass.

Smell – Bold and rich with dusty red fruit including Italian cherry and hints of strawberry and blackberry meld with notes of exotic spice, hints of black pepper and toasty oak notes.

Feel – This bone dry, highly textured and almost chewy wine has firm and finely etched tannins that soften as this wine opens but linger long into the finish. Lively acidity and great minerality makes this wine’s mouth feel remarkable.

Taste – Restrained old-world in character with red fruit and specifically rich zesty and tangy Italian cherry along with a touch of black fruit being buttressed by exotic spice, pepper, fresh herbs, toasted oak and subtle cigar box tobacco.

Finish – Extremely long with the tart and tangy fruit and spice and an almost meaty quality fading leaving behind this wine’s finely etched tannins and minerality for several minutes.

Conclusion – The 2006 Sassotondo Ciliegiolo San Lorenzo Maremma Toscana IGT is an impressive old world Italian with great character, elegant and a certain rustic finesse. The ‘pulls no punches’ texture alone is something that just blew us away. Lovely red fruit and spice on the nose and palate. Decant this wine or let it breathe for an hour or more if you are going to enjoy this wine in the near term or cellar for a decade and beyond.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Edoardo Ventimiglia & Carla Benini

WINE EDUCATION: Edoardo’s first life had to do with film making; his family had been involved in it since 1920 with his grandfather, Gaetano, one of the first of Hitchcock’s cameramen; his wine education was mostly made of good drinking in his home town, Rome, and had a good increase when he met his future wife, Carla is an agronomist, original of Trento, one of Italy’s important wine regions. The two developed their passion for wine drinking into wine making when they bought their land in Pitigliano, Southern Tuscany. The growth in competence was accomplished through courses,( professional sommellier, organic and bio-dynamics, grape tasting techniques) exchange visits with other wineries and a lot of good drinking.

WINE JOB BRIEF: The technical competences of Carla and the intuitions of Edoardo grew, working on their own vineyards and cellar, from 1990 to 1998 with their first bottle finally on the market.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Help the “genius loci” come out



AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Carla & Edoardo. We are thrilled to be showing your San Lorenzo today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

WINEMAKERS: Our pleasure – we are excited to be featured on The Wine Spies. We are just about to start harvest, so forgive us if we are not too relaxed.

WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

WINEMAKERS:Carla : I think I fell into a wine barrel when I was young. I mean that I have always been used to wine, my grandmother used to give me wine and sugar with bread;

WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

WINEMAKERS: Edoardo: we have a wine consultant Attilio Pagli, who’s a friend and together we try NOT to have a style but to help the character of the grape (Ciliegiolo) and of the Terroir come out with a natural winemaking.

WHITE: Who do you make wine for?

WINEMAKERS: We make wine for living, so we have to sell it, but since we don’t have to sell million bottles, and we have come know how a good wine tastes like, we can make the wines we really like and up to now we’ve found a good number of people who share our taste.

WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring

WINEMAKERS: We are talking about San Lorenzo 2006: it is made of Ciliegiolo 100% , an ancient Maremma grape variety that we grow in one of our oldest vineyards, just in front of Pitigliano, take a look at it, i’ is one of the most beautiful places in the old world. This variety is great, has an incredible fruit and freshness, ages very well growing spicy, with white pepper and chocolate notes; it is always elegant and not too heavy even in the hottest vintages. 2006 has been a very good vintage for us, one of the few “regular” vintages of the past decade when we have experienced all sorts of extremes. But, again, in our experience, local varieties have always proved to be able to cope with freak weather, where international varieties more frequently fail. Of course, I’m talking about organic farming, with chemistry you can do everything everywhere (???!!).

WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

WINEMAKERS: Roasted lamb, wild boar (or beef) in wine sauce, once I had a mystic experience with a “pastiera napoletana”, but then, as a general rule, “good plus good equals good”.

WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the Tuscan Maremma so special?

WINEMAKERS: We are a small Terroir in Tuscan Maremma, with peculiar characters given by strong identity factors that are: volcanic tufaceous soils (very salty, with high levels of potassium and magnesium), a continental climate (hot days and cool nights during the ripening season), medium altitude (300 mt), always windy…. and some magics with the mysterious Etruscans overlooking woods, fields and cellars.

WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

WINEMAKERS: We are just done with the last bottling of the year, and we are getting ready for the new harvest that, up to now, is really promising.

WHITE: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

WINEMAKERS: With an open mind: our wines are clean and good, but the grapes they are made of are different, so relax and be open to something a little different. And in general don’t be always so concentrated to find something you recognise, a bottle has in it more differences than you can imagine: land, culture, grapes, people.

WHITE: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

WINEMAKERS: Drink well, not much, eat well, not much, be conscious and happy.

WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

he approximate location of Sassotondo can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

Awards & Accolades:

91 PointsRobert Parker’s Wine Advocate – The single-vineyard 2006 Ciliegiolo San Lorenzo is darker, richer and deeper than the regular Ciliegiolo bottling. Two years in French oak confer an additional measure of structure and volume as well, but with completely masking varietal character. Hints of tobacco, mint, smoke, leather and licorice add complexity on the close. Anticipated maturity 2010-2018.

About This Wine:

Sassotondo San Lorenzo is characterized by an intense ruby red color and an impressive texture. Cherry dominates on the nose, but it also presents blackcurrant, pepper and cloves, which reappear on the palate. It is an elegant, well-balanced wine with a persistent finish, fresh and drinkable.

About Ciliegiolo:

Ciliegiolo, an old grape variety typical of the Maremma, has found in the old San Lorenzo vineyard, just in front of the overwhelming landscape of Pitigliano, its ideal terroir: our cru “San Lorenzo”, 100% Ciliegiolo, is made from its grapes.

About The Winery:

We first came here in 1990. My husband, Edoardo Ventimiglia, was a documentary film director in Rome with a small old family studio, his grandfather had been Hitchcok’s first cameramen, and I, Carla Benini, born in Trento, was an agronomist, dreaming a job in the open and spending my days on office work, airplanes and hotels. Slowly but unavoidably we lost interest in our city jobs.

There was not much when we started, only one hectare of vineyard, a house in bad shape and a land that had been abandoned for years, but gradually things evolved. In 1997 the first harvest in our restored cellar, our first bottle.. Each day we revise our project, and work together with our collaborators and our oenologist and friend Attilio Pagli to make it real. Each day we are glad to have crossed over into this dimension.

Managed as an organic farm, sassotondo is a typical farm in this marginal part of the Maremma Toscana where the cultivation of the olive and the vine are side by side with the extensive pastures and woods. The farm’s 72 hectares are located on the boundaries between the Etruscan townships of Sorano and Pitigliano. The area is considered hilly by altitude, but actually is better described as a series of “highlands,” divided by deep creeks carved into the “tufo” stone by semi-permanent watercourses.

We are at the outskirts of the Bolsena volcanic basin, and the volcanic compressed sandstone, “tufo”, is the leading element: on ”tufo grow the vineyards, our houses are mado of “tufo”, our cellars are dug into the tufo stone, and in the middle of a field, rounded by the weather, stands the sassotondo, a big round stone.

Pastures and woodlands enclose the farm; they give it a somewhat wild appearance that makes it seem more isolated than it actually is, at 6 kilometers from Sovana (3 kilometers if you walk on the old trail carved in “tufo”) and 5 kilometers from Pitigliano.

Technical Analysis:

Appelation: Maremma Toscana IGT

Varietals: 100% Ciliegiolo

Vinification: Maceration on the skins for 20 days; natural fermentation at a controlled temperature.

Alcohol: 14.0%

Vineyard: San Lorenzo, 3.5 ha of volcanic soil in the town of Pitigliano; 35 yrs old.

Aging: Aged 18 months in new French oak barriques, then 12 months refinement in bottles.

Harvest: Manual harvest and selection of the best ciliegiolo grapes.

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