When Elisabetta Fagiuoli and Sergio Muratori arrived in 1965, San Gimignano was not known world-wide as one of the most ravishingly beautiful areas to visit and Montenidoli was a 200+ hectare overgrown abandoned property with a moderate potential of producing good Chianti. They set about restoring the olive groves and vineyards that mother nature was in the process of reclaiming, and the rest is history. To this day, only a small percentage of the acreage is planted as the choice was made long ago to retain the natural ecosystem of the mountain.
Their first vintage in 1971 produced only red wines, but together they soon realized that there was great potential in other indigenous varietals, especially Vernaccia, the historic grape of San Gimignano, a town that played an oversized role on the Silk Road for centuries, long before the founding of the modern Italian state. Sergio worked tirelessly to restore the olive groves, vineyards and fields of Montenidoli, translated as “mountain of little nests,” to their former glory and allowed Elisabetta the task of growing the grapes, making the wine and showing the world what they were doing and why they were doing it. He preferred to remain in the background. Sergio passed away in 2012 and Elisabetta shows no signs of letting up.
Elisabetta Fagiuoli is proud of the fact that her land has never seen the use of pesticides. She has farmed organically as long as she has had the property and can attest that previous to her it had been farmed organically. Given that her property is isolated on a mountainside, she has the added benefit of not having any close neighbors, relieving her of any concern about systemic, non-organic treatments being used in adjacent vineyards. The soil at Montenidoli was impacted greatly by the Ligurian Sea which extended into much of what is now Tuscany millions of years ago. You can still often find large prehistoric oyster fossils in the soil, many of which are on display in the winery. On the higher elevation parcels of their property, you find a deep, red, mineral-rich soil where they source their top reds, the Triassico and the Sono Montenidoli.
It’s safe to say that land of Montenidoli has NEVER seen the use of systemic chemicals. She has been called the soul of Tuscany and was without question THE visionary that elevated Vernaccia di San Gimignano to higher levels of quality than were previously imaginable in the region.
She also was influenced at a young age by a French uncle who used to visit her family and would always bring White Burgundy with him. This left an early imprint on her about the art of making fine white wine. Her Vernaccia “Carato” is inspired by those memories and is fermented and aged in new and used barriques, creating something akin to a fine White Burgundy. Her most known whites, however, the Vernaccio di San Gimignano “Tradizionale” and “Fiore” bottlings are vinified in stainless steel with skin contact, of course. The Fiore is made from free-run juice and sees extended aging time on its lees, usually for one year. Both wines are aged in the bottle before release as well. The Fiore is incredibly nuanced and textured and showcases the age-worthiness and complexity of her wines. In addition to these whites, Elisabetta makes a fantastic rosato made from Canaiolo, a grape which, she says, has the power of a red wine and the finesse and cut of a white wine, and because of that it makes the perfect rosato…for any season!