Women In Wine: Susanna Crociani From Crociani Winery in Montepulciano

I wrote this post about Susanna many years ago. I am reposting it because I’m about to be a panelist on a webinar where she is speaking. We’ve been friends now for a long time and I have come to appreciate Susanna in so many  ways. 


I have been tasting and drinking Susanna’s wines for about 13 years now and

think they are terrific. One of my favorites is her Vin Santo. I wanted to share a

conversation that we had about Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Wine has been made in Montepulciano for 2500 years starting with the Etruscan

King Porsenna. Throughout the centuries it has been a favorite of illustrious men

including two American statesmen, Thomas Jefferson and Vian Buren.

The Consorzio for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano was created in 1965 and it

became a DOCG wine or Denominazione d’orgine controllata e garantita in 1980,

long before many other famous wines. Most of the vineyards are located at

between 250 and 600 meters above sea level. Vino Nobile spends at least one year

aging in wood and another in the bottle before it is released into the market.

Many producers put it into oak barrels for a longer period of time. In order to

have the denomination, Riserva on the label, the wine must spend three years

aging with at least six months in the bottle.

“Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has a marketing problem because it is squeezed

between Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico,” Susanna said in our chat.

“We are also making the wrong choices.”

“Look at the new legislation. Now you are allowed to add 30% of any grape to the

blend while 70% must be Sangiovese Grosso. This is a huge problem because the

wines aren’t comparable if everyone uses different grapes and you are taking

away our tradition. What we have is a strong tradition and that is what we

should be promoting,” She added.

Previously the wine was supposed to have 70% Prugnolo Gentile, at most 20%

Canaiolo Nero or 20% other grapes with only 10% white grapes allowed.

Alessandro Baricco, a noted Italian writer coined the phrase Hollywood wines for

wines that try to hide their identity or use lots of make up. According to Susanna,

Vino Nobile doesn’t need make-up but needs more attention.

When I asked about collaboration between producers, Susanna said that there

was a considerable amount of fragmentation and not as much collaboration as

she would like. However, she sounded a note of optimism stating that there

seems to be some movement towards working together.

Reflecting on her Vino Nobile, Susanna noted “This wine can age 10 to 15 years

easily,” She added. The 2007 bottling was her first without her dear brother

Giorgio who passed away in May 2007 at the too young age of 50. Susanna has

dedicated a wine to Giorgio called Il Segreto di Giorgio. She refuses to say what’s

in the wine and smiles enigmatically when I press her.

She also has a wine dedicated to her father, Arnaldo, which isn’t sold in the

United States, at least not yet. I love that wine and drink it happily every time I

visit her at her Agritourism farm called Le Cantastorie look forward to going

back soon, maybe next summer, if I am lucky.

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