Monday, March 16, 2009


Giovanella Stianti in vineyards at her new estate in the Maremma called Prelius (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Just a brief post today as I am packing my bags for a five-day trip to Sicily to participate in Sicilia en Premeur, an event that has several dozen Sicilian wineries presenting their newest releases to journalists from around the world. I’ll write about this event upon my return.

This post is about a new estate called Prelius in the Maremma district of Tuscany. Located near the popular seaside town of Castiglione della Pescaia, the estate is owned by Giovanella Stianti, the dynamic owner of Castello di Volpaia, one of Chianti Classico’s great estates. Stianti was kind enough to take me to the estate after my visit to Montalcino as I was headed up to Bolgheri for a few days. It’s a long drive and I’m grateful to her for taking the time to make these arrangements.

This is a 10 hectare (25 acre) estate planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese. The plans are to produce one white, a Vermentino plus two reds. The first red is called (at this point) Prelius and it’s from the 2007 vintage, made primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Giovanella also told me there is another red in the works, which will be a more full-bodied effort, but beyond that, she did not disclose much information.

I tasted the 2007 Prelius with her over lunch at Ristorante il Votapentole, a small, outstanding restaurant in Castiglione della Pescaia. The wine has deep purple color like many Maremma reds with appealing aromas of ripe blackberry, myrtle and vanilla and has very good concentration. There are young, graceful tannins, very good acidity and plenty of fruit in the finish. The wine is very well made and offers beautiful complexity. While it is ripe, it is not overdone; this can be a problem in this warm, sunny area. Although it’s a little early to judge the wine now, as it will not be released until the fall, I think it is very good right now and has the potential to become an excellent wine in a year or two. (The Prelius wines will be represented in the United States by Wilson Daniels, which also represents the wines of Castello di Volpaia.)

Given the oustanding work done by Giovanella and her team at Volpaia, especially over the past decade, the new Prelius project is definitely one to watch over the coming months and years.

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