A Biodynamic Winemaker Tends the Soil That Crafts The Wine
Podere Erica is a beautifully restored farmhouse and winery located halfway between Florence and Siena. The scenery here is classic Tuscany, with meticulously groomed vineyards and groves of olive trees. The wines they produce here are not simply organic, they're crafted using biodynamic methods to nourish and supplement the soil. And the Muscat, Canaiolo, and Sangiovese grapes they grow yield some exquisite wines.
Marco, the estate's winemaker, lead us around the vines and through the production process. Farming here is done not just organically by avoiding the use of chemicals - it is done biodynamically. This ecologically sound method revitalizes and restores the soil and keeps the growing process more in concert with nature. Accordingly, only natural products are used on the vines such as orange oil to repel insects.
But it’s the wines and their production that was most interesting — visiting Podere Erica was a great slow travel way to experience Tuscany.
Il Picchio is a beautiful Super Tuscan red made from only Sangiovese grapes and aged for eighteen months in French oak barrels and traditional cement tanks. Then it spends a year to a year and a half in the bottle. It's a smooth and elegant wine, ruby red in color with a bouquet of ripe cherries, sweet tobacco and a peppery finish.
La Ghiandaia is the estate’s blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Canaiolo grapes which are fermented together. This one spends fourteen months in cement and stainless vats, then another six months in the bottle. It has a beautiful slightly spicy flavor is luxurious with soft tannins.
After a tour of the production, we sat down in their tasting room to enjoy a yummy lunch made by Jan, the lovely owner of Podere Erica. She laid out delicious appetizers of Fig & Pecorino Crostini, homemade Mortadella, and Caponata Crostini before bringing out a huge bowl of Penne with Pesto, which we all happily devoured. It was a perfect Tuscan lunch and sampling of some of Italy's most delicious regional foods.
The estate also makes a sweet golden wine from the estate's Muscat grapes, Le Colombe. Once harvested, the grapes are left to dry in the sun on straw mats for forty days to concentrate their flavor.
This is a very small production wine that exhibits a hint of honey and apricot flavor when its ready to enjoy. Unfortunately for us, it wasn’t quite there yet. But that’s okay. We’ll just have to visit again. How bad would that be?
We were struck by the hard work and unique talent it takes to create a successful wine estate in Tuscany. Jan and her family have renovated a centuries old farmhouse into a beautiful holiday villa, and encourage their young winemaker Marco to follow his passion for producing high-quality wines which remain true to the terroir. Together, the land and tradition are well preserved. Clearly they're doing it right.
IF YOU GO
Are you a food and wine lover? Love learning about organic and natural methods of gardening, farming, and winemaking?
Contact Arianna and Alessio at Km Zero Tours or email Arianna@KmZeroTours.com. They live and work in Chianti, and organize slow-travel, local, producer-oriented tours throughout Tuscany that are specially curated to what interests you. We had a great experience with them!