Pier Luigi Tolaini is the founder and visionary of the Tolaini estate, which he founded in 1998. After building a successful transportation and logistics company, he returned to his homeland almost half a century later to search for a top Tuscan vineyard. Four years of searching led him to the prestigious region of Castelnuovo Berardenga in Chianti Classico. When Pier Luigi first set foot on the amphitheater-shaped vineyard at Montebello, he knew he had found the perfect balance of climate, soil, and exposure.
Everything at the Tolaini Estate is an expression of both old and new, both in the vineyards and in the winery. Here, they work with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Sangiovese, following organic principles, producing wines from both classic and international varieties. Tolaini, in order to optimize the manual labor in the vineyard at every stage, developed a special tractor that is driven via knee and foot to free the workers’ hands. The vineyards were planted to a high density between 2000-2004 in this southern corner of the Chianti Classico, with 50 hectares of vineyards in production today between the two crus of Montebello, with its soils of clay and fossils, and San Giovanni, with its tufa and sandy soils.
Everything is hand-harvested, destemmed, and optically sorted, and each parcel undergoes fermentation for 15 days, according to the vintage and grape health, in 26 stainless steel temperature-controlled tanks with a two-chamber system. The best grapes from each harvest are fermented in open-top fermenters made of French Allier oak, a time-tested touch that increases the complexity in the wines.
The wines at Tolaini are then gently matured in the barricaia, a barrel storage cellar with three underground tunnels radiating from a central point. The cellar is one of the Estate’s distinctive features, both for its structure and for the sensitivity devoted to its installation during the renovation of the original historic building. Each vintage, new barriques of Allier and Tronçais oak are purchased from several French coopers for the aging of international varieties: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot; Sangiovese is aged in casks of 20 or 55 hectoliters. With each vintage, the vision of Tolaini is to produce wine of great character – the high-quality fruit of the vineyard balanced by the great integration of the wood creates the power and supple, sexy tannins Tolaini wants to see in his expression of these terroir-driven wines.
Tolaini has assembled a top team of experts charged with delivering the ultimate quality. Luca D’Attoma is the consulting oenologist, and his hand is apparent starting with the 2015 vintage of Tolaini. Ruggero Mazzilli is Tolaini’s consulting agronomist and is based in Gaiole in Chianti where he is the owner and founder of SPEVIS (The Experimental Station for Sustainable Viticulture), which works with the best scientific research institutes to find new solutions to practical vineyard issues by following the principles of organic agriculture and respectful environmental practices. With Ruggero and D’Attoma heading up the team, Tolaini continues to cultivate the maximum expression of Chianti Classico terroir while farming organically and sustainably.
One day I will return to my homeland to make a great wine.