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Il Poggione Monte Carlo Bianco 1999
Tenuta Il Poggione was founded at the end of 1800 when Lavinio Franceschi, land owner from Florence, decided to visit the area after hearing the stories from a shepherd, who brought his herds around Montalcino during the winter. He fell in love with the landscape and the people who lived in that area, and decided to buy land and establish a grape farm. More than a century later, Tenuta Il Poggione covers an area of 530 hectares (1300 acres), of which 140 hectares (336 acres) are planted with vines and 50 hectares (120 acres) with olive trees; the rest are dedicated to grain fields, forest and livestock.
The estate’s guiding principle is to pay great care to the vines, because the secret of producing great red wines lies in the high-quality vineyard work. The vineyards are at an altitude between 490 – 1475 feet above sea level: this large gap, together with the age of the vineyards, promotes easy harvest to obtain well-structured wines with long aging potential, regardless of the weather conditions. One of the most highly regarded wineries in all of Tuscany, Tenuta Il Poggione makes incredibly powerful wines for collectors and everyday drinkers alike.
Named “Oenotria” by the ancient Greeks for its abundance of grapevines, Italy has always had a culture that is virtually inextricable from wine. Wine grapes are grown just about everywhere throughout the country—a long and narrow boot-shaped peninsula extending into the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas. The defining geographical feature of the country is the Apennine Mountain range, extending from Liguria in the north to Calabria in the south. The island of Sicily nearly grazes the toe of Italy’s boot, while Sardinia lies to the country’s west. Climate varies significantly throughout the country, with temperature being somewhat more dependent on elevation than latitude, though it is safe to generalize that the south is warmer. Much of the highest quality viticulture takes place on gently rolling, picturesque hillsides.
Italy boasts more indigenous varieties than any other country—between 500 and 800, depending on whom you ask—and most wine production relies upon these native grapes. In some regions, international varieties have worked their way in, but their use is declining in popularity, especially as younger growers begun to take interest in rediscovering forgotten local specialties. Sangiovese is the most widely planted variety in the country, reaching its greatest potential in parts of Tuscany. Nebbiolo is the prized grape of Piedmont in the northwest, producing singular, complex and age-worthy wines. Other important varieties include Montepulciano, Trebbiano, Barbera, Nero d’Avola and of course, Pinot Grigio.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.