Pietro Beconcini Agricola ss

Exclusive US importer:  SullaTavola LLC
Distributors may contact us at wine@sullatavola.com or call 615.336.4500



In 1958 Leonardo Beconcini’s grandfather purchased the property on which he and his family previously worked as sharecroppers, with its vineyards, olive trees, and farmhouse.  Now, three generations later, Pietro Beconcini Agricola is producing some of the best grapes in this part of Tuscany Leonardo dedicated his life as a wine grower in the early 1990s.
 
“I grew up playing on the land that I now work, as a child escaping into the vine rows anytime I wanted to hide.  I still preserve, with profound respect, the ancient, austere vines that my grandfather already found growing here.”

He brought a new vitality to the family business, re-inventing it, renewing its image and its very soul. The drive for excellence was absolutely fundamental to his professional philosophy as he introduced a radical change in vineyard practices and winemaking procedures, exercising painstaking care over everything, leaving not one thing to chance.

Working closely with agronomist Alfredo Tocchini, Leonardo’s years of dedication and hard work have gained Pietro Beconcini Agricola the praise and respect of some of the most important wine journalists and critics in Italy.

 

 

The Philosophy

In contrast to the great number of those aiming to cash in on international trends, Leonardo Beconcini focuses on the cultivation of grape varieties that have always grown and naturally thrive on this property; those that exhibit distinctive and complex qualities, the result of the soils and the climate in the San Miniato area. 

“Such have always been the underpinnings of my efforts, plus much patience and a fierce desire to learn the sum of all of those small lessons that the land and its vineyards release ever so slowly. I have gradually absorbed these lessons since the early 1990s, and they have enabled me to produce wines that faithfully express the qualities of this corner of the earth.”

His interest in experimentation has not kept him from attempting international varieties as well, but the results from those plantings have not been valuable enough to continue that research.

“To allow the local terroir to express itself in terms that will display its unique qualities: this is the challenge.”

This modest enclave has such a great diversity, partly due to the geographical composition of its soils.  The strata that make up these soils contain quite different characteristics, which, if utilized with good judgment can yield wines of great complexity.

 

bv

”The first replanting of sangiovese took place in 1990, and today over 12 hectares have been totally replanted. These plantings are based on in-depth observation of how the different varieties perform in various soils, exposures, and weather conditions, making an effort not to miss the smallest details.”



The Vines

vs“The varieties that I cultivate today are mainly two: the Sangiovese and Malvasia Nera. Point of departure has been the old vineyards of family, and all my experiences today derive from a long and careful job of observation, selection and small microvinifications of grapes of all the different clones and present varietals in the small vineyards. Besides the two main varietals I have implanted small smaller amounts of native vines: some clones of Colorino and Ciliegiolo, Malvasia Bianca and San Colombano, and Canaiolo Rosa with which I am now producing rosato and white wines.”

 

 

 

The Discovery of a mysterious variety

seven

“I have a project that has now been in the works for at least fifteen years: an unidentified varietal, currently in the process of varietale acknowledgment, that I and Alfredo noticed from the first times that we worked together. It had characteristics different than Sangiovese with which it cohabited for who knows how much time. My father said that it was Malvasia Nera because that was what his father and the old peasants had passed on. “But I did not agree. It is of some different varietal we found in one of our oldest vineyards, in conjunction with a section of the ancient pilgrim road, Via Francigena that leads to Rome from northern Europe.  It was carried perhaps by some traveler coming from far away, who planted the seeds, which have adapted over time to these lands.  The sure fact is that for 10 years these plants give the best grapes to us out of all on the farm and this has pushed to me to deepen the argument and to begin the propagation of this variety, beginning the production of a very powerful red wine.”

 

Historical Hypothesis

map“I have put together a hypothesis regarding the historical roots of this variety, based on research that is still ongoing, research that will soon give us more certainty than we can at this moment attain. So, in the meantime, we can go back in time at least to the 18th century, but we can easily conjure up a more remote period, when that ancient Via Francigena, which passed through my property, right next to the vineyard in question, was the “superhighway of the era,” travelled every day by considerable number of people--families even and entire communities. They used it for short trips or, more often, as a pilgrimage route to Rome from every corner of Europe, since the two main feeder routes into the Francigena began in Canterbury in England and in Santiago di Compostela in Spain. And it is precisely Spain, according to our reconstruction of the facts, that could very well be the origin of our vines.” 

 


Technical Research

“We have been studying these vines for over ten years now, right from the moment I noticed their presence in our property’s oldest vineyard.  In-depth, very lengthy historical research was necessary, trying to go back in time to the youth of this small vineyard, which seems to date back to the years just after World War II, and even perhaps as far back as the 1930s.

ONETHREE“We began our research by selecting the best and healthiest vines from the 113 survivors, then we propagated a small number of cuttings from their buds, and then made a further selection from the young vines that grew up. At the same time, we experimented with various practices both in the vineyard and in the winemaking facility so that we as winegrowers could gain the experience required to cultivate a variety that we were not familiar with and to make wine we didn’t know existed.”

“We did have one advantage however right from the beginning: the superb quality of those few clusters of grapes that we harvested every year from those venerable vines.”  

 

 

 

Evolution

“Grapevines were propagated by seed in those times, mainly because in people’s travels it was easier to carry a small container of seeds rather than a heavy load of vine cuttings. This practice matches the results obtained by our research, which revealed a significant genetic match to a vine known in Spain as the tempranillo variety. And the obvious differences that we saw were due to the natural evolution of a vine that is grown from seed, rather than cloned from budwood, and which is then grown in a terroir different from its homeland, and which, finally, has the time required (at least 100 years) to adapt itself to its new environment.”

 

WINE

VERT“September 2007 was the first release of a wine made 100% from these grapes, which we think will tell its own very distinctive tale and will offer palates some very novel experiences.

“We have adopted a production process that we could call extreme, but one that the grape itself has suggested: The grape clusters are semi-dried for four weeks, then the must is fermented in glass-lined cement vats with natural yeasts; the wine is then given a very long maceration on the pomace, often with malolactic fermentation. It then matures 20 months in barrels, 70% French and 30% American, followed by ageing in the bottle, for a period that we would like to extend to at least 24 months.

“All of this to exploit to the fullest the qualities of a grape that even on its own holds so many surprises.”

“Finally, it is crucial to explain how these vines manage, totally on their own, but in our soils, to grow and to yield fruit so well balanced that it is far and away superior even to varieties that are nobler and more preferred. The growth cycle is shorter, but the ripening process is slow and steady, which allows us to select the precise best moment for the harvest. Thus every day we have increased evidence of its perfect acclimatisation to our own terroir.”

 

 

Locating the Vineyard

“For the vineyard, I selected a spot midway up a hill slope, not too hot, and facing southeast, in order to obtain grapes with good levels of acid that would dry well after harvesting. But the main criterion was the great variety of mineral elements gathered in this one small parcel of land, where the plenitude of local Pleistocene fossil shells (in the local Tuscan tongue, nicchie) seems to concentrate. And thus the name of this wine:  Vigna Alle Nicchie, or Vineyard of the Shells.”

 

 

Geneology 

sixteenSan Miniato sits on rock, which consists of marine-origin sandstone, formed  from Pliocene-era seabeds when the waters advanced and
receded some three million years ago. 
Sandstones and clays are the chief influences in San Miniato, and the
soils are rich in fossils and marine organisms. The clayey hills have
eroded over the years, creating gentle slopes, while those mainly of sand
are higher and show sharper profiles.
In the area where San Miniato declines towards the plain, where we are located, there is different soil profile, with sediments composed of sandstone, silts, and clays from a large ancient lakebed that some 600,000 years ago extended from Monte Serra as far as Montalbano.

 


Climate

The climate is Mediterranean in character: summers that are not too hot and mild winters. Rainfall is mainly in the autumn, with rare exceptions, and in late winter.
The Mediterranean climate brings high pressure areas that ensure clear, sunny skies but also temperature extremes. These summer and winter highs keep the high pressures in place, driving up temperatures to over 30°C in summer and bringing subzero temperatures in winter.
 
The climate in this small enclave can be summarized under four headings:
1) complete protection from weather disturbances from the north and from the east;
2) full exposure to the winds coming in from the coast, thus from the south and from the west; 
3) almost no rainfall from May through October
4) intense sunlight through that same period

These may seem extreme conditions, but careful vineyard management practices can achieve a distinctive and beneficent growth cycle, which yields grapes capable of producing wines displaying unique characteristics and a strong bond with their terroir.

 

 

The Wind

The prevailing winds are in general those coming from the north/west (the maestrale) and from the south/west (the libeccio and scirocco).

On fine summer days, the temperature rises, and the warmed air in the internal valleys creates upwelling breezes and sucks in the cooler air from the sea, which in turn flows into the valleys and creates the cool winds so pleasant on these hot days. 
In some periods during the winter, and particularly during the harvest period, the tramontana blows, a cool, dry wind coming out of the northeast. Although it is not always in force in this area, its influence during these periods is decisive, since it helps with the last stages of the ripening process and, later, keeps the soils relatively dry.

 

 

The Hills

 

MICRO

Morphologically, San Miniato is characterised by gently-rolling hills that in general do not rise beyond 200 metres.
All around, one sees the typical landscapes of Tuscany: vine-clad hillslopes alternate with fields of wheat, sunflowers, truck gardens, and pastures. Wildlife-rich woods also abound in many areas. Many of the hamlets and farms preserve intact their medieval character.
The river Arno marks San Miniato’s northern border, and three of its major tributaries course through the area. The Elsa divides it to the east from the commune of Empoli and the province of Florence, while the smaller Egola and Chiesina run in the north.

 

 

The Area

eighteenSan Miniato is located in the lower Arno valley, on the south-eastern hills dominating the river plains, halfway between Pisa and Florence, Italy. The mediaeval village of San Miniato is in the centre of Tuscany and it preserves an historic centre set on the hill top with the Cathedral, the Episcopal Palace, the Municipal Palace and the Tower Fortress dominating all the surrounding Arno, Era and Egola valleys.

 

 

 

 

Please visit their web site: www.pietrobeconcini.com 

Exclusive US importer:  SullaTavola LLC
Distributors may contact us at wine@sullatavola.com or call 615.336.4500