Situated in the picture-perfect Tuscan landscapes of Brunello di Montalcino is the La Serena winery, run by the Mantengoli family. The family currently operates 8.5 hectares of vines by means...Read More
From the picture-perfect Tuscan landscape of gently rolling hills comes a Brunello di Montalcino with timeless charm: La Serena. The Mantengoli family cultivates 8.5 hectares of vines organically, which they believe is the only way to express the diversity of the Montalcino terroir in the glass. The result? Their Brunello di Montalcino and Brunello di Montalcino Riserva “Gemini,” lauded by wine critics around the world for their smooth tannins and nuanced bouquet of black cherries, black plums, warm leather, tar and chocolate-covered espresso beans. These are wines to enjoy on a peaceful evening, in the presence of good company, paired with a rich and cozy meal.
Situated on the eastern edge of the Montalcino region in Tuscany, the La Rasa farm has been in the Mantengoli family since the 1930’s. It was only in 1988, however, that the brothers Andrea and Marcello Mantengoli began to produce wine there for commercial use. And so, the “La Serena” range was born, featuring pure Sangiovese wines of Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino.
The Mantengoli brothers began with just one hectare of vineyards, from which they produced 2,700 0.75-liter bottles of Brunello. Since then, the estate has expanded to 8.5 hectares and production to 30,000 bottles per year.
While the estate has always incorporated organic practices out in the vineyards, their wines have been certified organic since the 2013 vintage. The Mantengoli family has worked closely with agronomist and organic viticulture consultant Ruggero Mazzilli in order to find the organic practices best suited to the Montalcino terroir. Today, the vineyard rows are planted with various species of beneficial grasses, which fix nitrogen. The soil is enriched with compost produced from dry, crushed vine shoots, stalks and recycled grape skins.
According to Andrea Mantengoli - who today manages the family estate with his wife Elisabetta and their son Giorgio – organic viticulture is the only true way to express terroir of origin in a wine. He explains that chemical fertilizers stifle the expression of terroir and make all wines produced this way taste similar.
The wines of La Serena are produced in an eco-friendly cellar designed by Marcello Mantengoli, an organic architect. The entire building is isolated with cork panels and its temperature is regulated by means of a geothermal system, which keeps the interior cool during the summer and warm in the winter. The La Serena cellar also uses solar panels to heat the water used to clean the oak casks. Since 1997, the Mantengoli family has relied on the expertise of winemaking consultant Paolo Caciorgna in the cellar.
The La Serena estate is located in the eastern part of Montalcino, just below the town with the same name, at an altitude of roughly 400 meters above sea level. The terroir here is characterized by a mix of different soil types, including clay with excellent water retention and limestone, which provides structure to this land.
Andrea cultivates his vineyard organically, allowing the grapes grown in each plot to express the soil characteristics of that plot in the glass. Blending grapes from many different soils types thus results in a wonderful complexity and certain balance in the wines of La Serena.
The soil in this area is actually quite similar to the Pertimali and Montosoli Cru areas of Montalcino, though they are a bit less compact, which results in wines that are nicely structure but also slightly more approachable in their youth than wines from neighboring crus.
The estate vineyards enjoy plenty of sunshine, lots of wind, eastern exposure and a great thermal amplitude between night and day, which lends a certain freshness to the wine. The climate here is perfectly suited to Sangiovese, the flagship variety of Tuscany and the only variety planted to produce the La Serena wines.
Typically, fruit from the estate’s younger vines, planted in parcels at a lower altitude in more humid settings, are used to produce their Rosso di Montalcino. Sangiovese from the estate’s more elevated parcels, characterized by poor soils and a higher degree of water drainage, tend to be produced in a much smaller yield, but have a thicker skin and higher quality. These are used to produce their La Serena Brunello di Montalcino wine. Finally, their Brunello di Montalcino Riserva “Gemini” is made from the estate’s best fruit, harvested from the older, more established vines.
Harvest at La Serena typically takes place in the end of September or first few weeks of October, depending on the vintage. The grapes are picked for a period of two or three weeks and in multiple passes, depending on the phenolic ripeness of each separate parcel. Both the harvest and the sorting that follows are carried out manually.
The grapes are then destemmed and partially crushed before being transported to stainless steel tanks, where alcoholic fermentation takes place. Next, malolactic fermentation takes place in large oak casks of 30-40 hectoliters and in truncated cone vats (or French oak barriques for the Riserva).
The wines age for a minimum period of two years (three years for the Brunello) in 20-hectoliter oak casks before further aging in bottle. The Brunello di Montalcino Riserva “Gemini” is aged for 12 months in French oak barriques before being transferred to age an additional 12 months in traditional 20/40 hectoliter oak casks.
In the glass, the Brunello di Montalcino La Serena wines display a deeply concentrated ruby and garnet red color. This Brunello reveals a rush of black cherry and black plum aromas, as well as nuances of worn leather, tar, underbrush, espresso bean and sweet spices. On the palate, this wine unfurls firm but smooth tannins with a balance that will allow it to age many years in the cellar. Meanwhile, these wines are also quite enjoyable in their youth.
The wines of La Serena should be served at a temperature of 18° C and will pair beautifully with boldly flavored meat dishes and seasoned cheeses.