Fattoria di Bacchereto Terre a Mano

Fattoria di Bacchereto Terre a Mano is owned and run by Rossella Bencini Tesi. Terre a Mano is the historical name of the agricultural estate on the premises. The estate is beautifully situated on a hillside overlooking the village of Bacchereto. Bacchereto is part of the Carmignano wine appellation, just west of Florence city limits toward Pisa.

Carmigano is one of the four oldest wine appellations in the world, formally registered by the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III de’ Medici in 1716. The Medici family were instrumental in bringing about the Renaissance and thus putting Florence on the world map. Carmignano was their hunting ground, and still today the hilly area is covered in wild forest. One of the tourist attractions is to visit their hunting lodges which rather qualify as palaces in the Carmignano countryside.

Carmigano is one of the four oldest wine appellations in the world, formally registered
by the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III de’ Medici in 1716.

One of the particularities of this ancient wine appellation is its requirement of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Carmignano DOCG blend. Apparently Catherine de’ Medici, who married the king Henry II of France, imported the first cuttings of Cabernet Sauvignon to the region. Later Cosimo III perfected its cultivation by sending his enologists to Bordeaux.

Carmignano is the smallest DOCG in Italy and there are only 14 producers of Carmignano. Rossella is the only producer of Carmignano who has stepped out of the wine grower’s association due to dissatisfaction with how they work. Thus, it has been relatively easy to get to know all Carmignano producers.

The DOCG requires at least 50% Sangiovese, 10-20% Cabernet, 15% Canaiolo Nero as well as other grapes in the Carmignano blend. It must age at least eight months in oak or chestnut barrels to qualify as Carmignano.

Story

Rossella’s story is typical for our vintner friends in Italy. Her father passed away in the late nineties. She took over the estate with her brother, who in turn passed away, and then Rossella was stuck with running Bacchereto. With no prior wine experience, Rossella left the running of the estate to experts, who continued to run the estate conventionally. Instinctively, Rossella felt uncomfortable with the environment and the wines. By chance she was introduced to a bio-dynamic enologist and then an organic agronomist in 2000. She took a chance on them and after one year the natural habitat was already changing. Before, the earth had formed a hard, impermeable crust which resulted in erosion and poor soil hydration. The vines were malnourished and sad. 12 months after implementing a revitalization program the soil had begun opening up and breathing once more. Vines were greener and happy to lift their faces toward the sky. Rossella was convinced and has never looked back.

Today her estate is not only the only truly natural winery in Carmignano, but also the most exciting wines. When I first began tasting Rossella’s wines early on in the new Millenium they did not create emotion. I later spoke to her about that. The obvious conclusion was that before a revitalization of the natural habitat takes form and translates into a recognizable natural grape approach, then the wine is vinified for three years, bottled and needs to mature, these results are reflected many years after changes have been taken place.

I look forward to enjoying more exciting wines from Rossella every year. I also think that her woodwork will improve with experience, rendering her Carmignano a Tuscan jewel.

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