I have been thinking about Arezzo the last few weeks for a number of reasons. I just went to see Roberto Benigni’s show in New York, Tutto Dante, which was a true joy. Benigni’s film, La vita e’ bella was filmed in the city. When I lived in Florence, I used to go the Arezzo antique market on the first Sunday of every month to peruse the lovely objects for sale. I couldn’t afford the big old wooden tables, frattini, that I loved but I have a great bottle collection.
Arezzo is a wonderful city that many people unfortunately skip over on their travels. It has a series of wonderful churches and piazzas and one of my all time favorite affresco cycles, the History of the True Cross by the 15th century artist Piero della Francesca, a masterly painter. If none of this interests you, Arezzo is also very well known for its goldsmiths and for its wines as well.
At Vinitaly this year, I tasted a few wines from a new winery called Camperchi. The enologist on this property, Roberto Cipresso, is a very well known winemaker both in Italy and abroad. He is also a friend.
I met Roberto in Argentina while visiting another winery where he makes fabulous wines, Archaval-Ferrer. Apparently, the owners of Camperchi also met Roberto in Argentina and wanted him to make wines for them there. He refused.
If Mohammad couldn’t come to the mountain in Argentina, the mountain came to Roberto. The Argentinian owners of Camperchi followed Roberto to Italy and asked him to make wines for them in Italy instead.
The winery was taken over by the new owners in 2005 and the first harvest was in 2006. The winery has 24 hectares planted primarily with Sangiovese and with a smaller percentage of Merlot. Maurizio Saettini, the agronomist who works with Cipresso said that they did a lot of work in the vineyard including raising the trellising system and changing technique thereby making the rows higher and more densely planted as well as increasing sun exposure and aeration. He also said that have some Merlot vines from 25 years earlier.
The climate in Arezzo is very different from that of Florence and Siena. It is much closer to the Appenine mountains and has a continental climate. Arezzo sees considerable rain throughout the year and is also influenced by the Arno river.
In terms of the soil, Saettini said it was similar to that found in Montalcino with small marine fossils and organic, friable materials mixed with sand. This infertile soil helps urge the plants to dig deeper for nutrients and tends to produce wines that have a concentrated structure. Camperchi currents makes three wines, all IGTs.
The first one I tried was Anno Zero, or Year “0.” The wine is 85-90% Sangiovese and 10%-15% other grapes. It ferments in stainless steel and ages for six months in large botti (oak barrels). It had fleshy, red fruit and spice aromas as well as ripe, fine tannins. It was imminently drinkable with a long finish.
The second wine, a 100% Sangiovese 2006, also an IGT, ferments in large oak barrels and ages in smaller French barriques. The grapes which go into this wine have low yields and good concentration of sugars. This wine shows a lot of red plummy fruit, berries, some violet notes and oak flavors.
The third wine I tried was a 100% Merlot IGT. Fermented in large oak
barrels and aged in smaller barriques for 12 months before spending 10 months in the bottle, this wine was spicy with black and red fruit flavors and had balsamic notes to it. The wine was full bodied and had a long finish to boot. In my notes, I wrote a “vino importante” or an important wine. It was also very persistence and made me truly want to eat a Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a traditional Tuscan steak. I try to not eat meat too often but a few times a year, a Bistecca alla Fiorentina calls my name and I come running.
This winery is just starting out but I expect good things in years to come.
A new wine event is now held in Arezzo in February, Arezzo Wine. This was the second year for the event. I would like to go next year, hoping that it will also coincide with the antique fair so I can finally buy one of those tables I have coveted for so many years while enjoying and discovering delicious new wines.