I remember the debate on the disciplinary being very animated and in my own personal opinion I found the rules were not precise enough to really and truly express and guarantee a different and totally “Grand” product. In our wine production at Petroio all those rules were already employed in producing our Riserva, which was for us the true “punta di Diamante” (diamond tip) of our vinification process. I decided that until I had something truly different to offer to my clients I was not going to degrade our Riserva, or just change a label on a bottle, and was going to hold back from producing the Gran Selezione.
Those were also the years in which we were working on our special vineyard, Poggio ai Grilli. After a dispute with technicians of the Province of Siena on some varietals present in my small patch of white grapes from which we did Vinsanto, I was encouraged by Professor Bandinelli from the University of Pisa (an important institution in our territory as far as clonal knowledge is concerned) to protect those varietals and try to re-propagate them. A challenging project yet a fascinating one! Therefore, I decided to go all out and not only work on the white varietals but with all the old clones present in our vineyard planted in 1958. So from 2011 to 2014 my staff and I spent time in that vineyard, identifying clones and then taking specific selected cuttings of Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Malvasia Nera, Colorino, Malvasia Bianca and Trebbiano to a nursery in Viareggio. The nursery used the gems on the cuttings to graft new shoots that were first planted in an“experimental vineyard”, to ensure that they were healthy and free from any diseases. Following this step they were then brought back to shoots and parked in a refrigerated room while waiting for more to arrive the following year. That is how we managed to produce the over 11.000 barbatelle (rootstocks), that were planted in our 3ha Poggio ai Grilli vineyard in the spring of 2015.
My idea at the time was that if I were ever to do a Gran Selezione it would come from that special vineyard that had the true heart of Petroio in it, and was a true grand selection of Petroio.
Meanwhile our usual annual productions were coming along with,as always,better vintages and harder ones. Since 2012 we were converting over to organic farming and were working to overcome the initial challenges of seeing the vines adapt to the new “therapy” against disease. 2013 had been a, small in quantity, but extremely rich in quality vintage, while 2014 had just been the toughest and hardest vintage and harvest of all. A rainy and cold summer with hardly any sun had really challenged us all. We lost over 2/3 of our production that year but ensured that our wines still stayed at the standard of quality that our clients were used to.
So when the first day of harvest of 2015 arrived I think we were all just blown away by how beautiful those abundant ripe healthy grapes looked. We had had a wonderful growing season, with just the right amount of sun, warmth and rain to make the vineyards thrive.
My staff and I stood around our sorting table looking at the grapes and really not finding anything worth throwing out. And knowing how picky we all are I still recall it as a miracle.
We did notice however that every once and a while that first morning of harvest one of us would pick up a grape and show it off to the others: “look at this one” and “did you see this one??” and “have you ever seen anything like this?” was all we could say. And that is when the idea hit. We decided that the next morning we were going to go into the field with our pickers and instruct them on what specifically to pick. We wanted to do a single barrel of grapes that had five stars: the BELLI BELLI BELLI BELLI BELLI grapes.
I woke up the next morning at 6:00 full of excitement and thrilling new energy, but with the typical broken back of Day Two of harvest. I took Maribò for her usual morning walk and stopped in front of the Poggio ai Grilli vineyard to stretch. And that is exactly when this picture was taken.
In December when the wine was finally cleaned off of the dregs,we placed it in our 22,50hl “Pamela 50” barrel, where we left it to age for almost 30 months. During that long period we were constantly watching over our special wine, airing it when it was needed, cleaning it from more residual deposit and making sure the process was always going well, by testing the wine in alaboratory.
In June 2018 we sent the wine to be approved as Gran Selezione and it passed immediately, allowing us to put it in bottle bymid June. We alsodecided that this special new wine needed a special new packaging, that would distinguish it asthe very exclusive and unique product it is. We picked a very important bottle, had very particularwooden boxes createdespecially for it, so that all the 750ml bottles will come in horizontal wooden cases, and finally we decidednot touse a regular capsule, but rather a shellac top.
When it came to choose a name for the wine there was no doubt that it would be called Poggio ai Grilli, in honor of the project we hope soon to complete with our historic vineyard. However, when an image needed to be choosenit was much more complicated. We wanted something original and modern, that would set this wine aside from our other wines. We wanted something representative of the vineyard, our work, and the uniqueness of the story behind this wine, maybe also the fatigue of it.
And that fatigue was exactly what lead us back to that particularphoto, taken that morning during harvest, right before the wine was about to come to life.
It all made sense.