FLOWER DAY PLANTING SETS THE WHEELS IN MOTION FOR FIRST ORGANIC WINES
The picturesque and historic Tenuta San Leonardo, situated high in the alpine valleys of north-east Italy's Trentino region and already famed for crafting award winning old school Bordeaux blends, is just three years off becoming an EU-certified organic wine producer.
Having halted the use of pesticides and allowed the soil to rest for three years in a section of the 25 hectare vineyard, protected from the cool northerly winds by the imposing Monti Lessini, San Leonardo is now officially in the conversion stage of its agronomic management programme.
Two fallow hectares to be known as Campo Alla Torre were recently planted. Sowing was done on flower days, following the Maria Thun bio-dynamic calendar, which should provide the young plants with the greatest chance of taking root and growing vigorously. And after just three weeks, San Leonardo’s owners report that both the French and Italian Cabernet Sauvignon vines are growing magnificently, and that in just over three years they’ll be trying their first organic wines.
“As our motto says, ‘The soil is the soul of our work’ and this year this has gained even greater significance. The objective is over time to allow our vines to live to an older age, because it is from the ‘wise’ vines that we obtain the most interesting wines.”
And age is something San Leonardo’s vines already have on their side. The winery was founded in 1724 but it’s likely grapes had been grown there as early as 900 AD by monks living in an ancient monastery on the grounds, that still partly stands today and has been incorporated into the current buildings.
The Guerrieri Gonzaga family took up residence on the property in the 18th century and has been running it ever since. Carlo Guerrieri Gonzaga, who has dedicated some fifty years to the business, is still full involved alongside his son Anselmo, and both are also passionately committed to the Trentino area.
The flagship San Leonardo label Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot is released only in vintages where the growing year has offered all the elements the winemaker feels are essential to create a drink of outstanding personality and character. A dedication that has been rewarded by countless accolades, not least of all from the world’s most influential wine journalist, Master of Wine Jancis Robinson, who selected the 1999 vintage as one of just a handful of Italian wines (from her tasting notes on 10,000) she would take with her on Noah’s Ark, in an interview with L’Enologo magazine.
You’ll find a good choice of vintages of the flagship San Leonardo here, plus several other delights from their range: San Leonardo at Planet Wine