Nov. 16, 2012
-- Not a play of words, but rather the Pugnitello-based boxed set San Felice has just released, which includes a bottle of IGT Toscana Pugnitello, the Chianti expression of the ancient varietal, and two new wines, also from San Felice: Mater Vitis, a cuvée of Pugnitelo (60%) and Ciliegiolo (40%), and Arkeos, a cuvée of Pugnitello (60%) and Sangiovese (40%).
And Pugnitello is...? Its modern history began about 20 years ago, when San Felice, working with the Università di Agraria di Firenze, planted about 250 almost-forgotten varietals at San Felice. With time Pugnitello rose above the others thanks to its distinctive personality and its ability to blend happily with other Tuscan varietals. Thus, with the 2003 vintage San Felice introduced the IGT Toscana Pugnitello, though it was clear this would not be the only use made of the varietal. Indeed, research, one of the driving forces of this historic Tuscan estate, continued, and the technical team decided the varietal should not just be planted at San Felice, the estate's headquarters in the heart of Chianti Classico (where the IGT Pugnitello is made), but on its other properties as well: Campogiovanni in Montalcino and Perolla in Maremma. The first results came in 2008, and now the fruits of these labors are Arkeos, from Montalcino, and Mater Vitis, from the Maremma.
For now the production of these wines, which are literally taking their first steps, is quite limited, about 3,000 bottles, but this didn't keep San Felice from presenting them with their "big brother," in 600 specially boxed sets. The spirit of the project, says Alessandro Marchionne, the Estate's general manager, is tied to the understanding and love they have of their territory, following the very modern trend of authenticity and originality. To blend Sangiovese and Ciliegiolo with a varietal from the past poses an exciting challenge, and more importantly shows that one can -- and must -- find in one's roots the paths to innovation