Women In Wine: Susanna Crociani From Crociani Winery in Montepulciano

I wrote this post about Susanna many years ago. I am reposting it today because it is her birthday today and because I would have just seen her had I been at the Anteprime Toscane. It’s been a year since we last saw each other but what’s a year among friends. We’ve been friends now for a long time now, 14 years and I have come to appreciate Susanna and her wines in so many ways. Buon compleanno amica mia! Today is also the start to Women’s history month and I’ve decided I will write about women in wine everyday this month.

This is an edited version of my original post:

I have been tasting and drinking Susanna’s wines for about nine years now and think they are terrific. My favorite 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 everytime I visit her at her Agritourism farm called Le Cantastorie look forward to going back soon, maybe next summer, if I am lucky.


  1. Regarding Vin Santo, I learned this summer that the original or as the folks on the island told me, the “real” Vin Santo has its origins on the Greek island of Santorini (Wine of Santorini…Vin Santo). They are produced similar to Vin Santo of Italy…sun dried to concentrate the flavor and sugars. Similarly-named Schilfwein of Austria, and I presume many other countries are variants.

  2. Steve- Thanks for writing in. I bet the Tuscans would beg to differ about the origins of Vin Santo but no matter, what is important is that they produce the stuff.

    I love dessert wines made from dried grapes, a tradition which is actually followed up and down the Italian peninsula. What I really would like is for there to be more Italian dessert wines on restaurant menus.

  3. Susannah:

    Nice post- sorry I didn’t taste the Crociani wines this past Friday, but too much going on! I’ll remember the next time.

    Some interesting comments from Susanna, especially about the grape varieties being used in Vino Nobile. I do agree that this wine is being squeezed in between Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino, which is a shame, as it’s a lovely, important wine in its own right. But she is correct that the wine must have a separate identity.

  4. Great post, and thanks for posting that conference.
    Nobile definitely flies under the radar in many senses, but that also means there is good QPR there, so this may be their time to shine!

    Steve, in my sommelier course here in Italy they told us that the grapes used for vin santo are/were often harvested on holy friday (?), before easter, and hence the name. Many also say it is because at one time it was the traditional wine drunk at mass. There are probably several stories!

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