… As I was saying before, there is more behind a bottle of wine than you might imagine. To make this concept even clearer, here is the second part of my interview with Roberto Cipresso, which, I hope might increase your passion and thirst for knowledge… and for more truly good wine.
R: We started by reviving an old tendril. The original was made of 800 vines and today La Fiorita became a 7 hectare estate. Today we have two Cru: Poggio al Sole, which is in the Sant’Angelo al Colle area and one in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, characterized by warm and sunny weather, and Pianbossolino, which is in the area closer to Montalcino, in a high, fresh and vertical position and it expresses different tones. Based on the vintage trend, part of each cru is made into Riserva and the other one is left for the regular Brunello. Today, there’s the idea to build a final block of vines, I’ve already intercepted the piece of land where this could take place, but we are moving slowly so that we do not risk overgrowing. La Fiorita today, with a 7-hectare land produces 20,000 Brunello bottles and a second wine named Laurus that represents the Rosso di Montalcino, but it actually isn’t because it is a blend of Sangiovese that makes it an IGT and a part of Merlot.
G: As you’ve said, you’re from Bassano del Grappa, any cultural shock moving in Toscana?
R: Yeah, Bassano is a different culture and a different type of people, I left with regret, first due to the “Malattia del Campanile” typical of people from Veneto, which is the inability to detach from their perish, and because I had to abandon my first, true passion which was the mountain. Of course, Tuscany has beautiful places, wonderful air, great light so much that I’ve decided to raise my children in that place. Beside the mental shock, at 23 years old, I have to admit that we have a strong elasticity of mind and the ability to rapidly change and revolutionize everything. I have to acknowledge that making such a move today would be much more difficult.
G: So, the encounter with Achaval-Ferrer; the Altamira vineyard discovery: do you remember what have you felt when you found those ancient Malbec plants?
R: Well, the discovery has been spectacular, because I found myself to chase a project in Argentina that in Spanish is called “Deferimento in Positivo” which means: a project promoted by the state offered to all of those in Argentina who were willing to invest in the north area of Mendoza, the one in San Juan, in exchange for a very interesting tax break. For this reason a big group of Cordova asked me to make a feasibility plan. We were supposed to understand if in the San Juan area we could start a relevant project of a certain quality. So, I went and I had an incredible experience, exploring land where I believe that no other human being has stepped foot on before. An experience that has left me a strong heritage: the friendship with Santiago Achaval and Manuel Ferrer, today my partners along with two friends Marcelo Victoria e Diego Rosso in a project that, in this case as well, started as a game and ended in a very important and relevant project. We planted a first vineyard in the Valle de Uco in the Tupungato area that is an hour south of Mendoza. Then, I started searching for an old vineyard looking for a land with an identity as close as possible to the old world. I looked for a higher point to find a peculiar microclimate until I found these old abandoned vines in the Consulta region south of Tupungato near the Rio Tunuyan. This was an amazing place, the vines were abandoned but old, almost secular near the mountain facing north (an ideal exposition for the south hemisphere). No one could ever imagine that, after a few years, those dying vines would have been able to provide such a great outcome. The satisfaction for my partners and me came as a surprise considering the market found for that wine, and the great reviews received by Wine Spectator and Robert Parker, where we were assigned respectively 96 and 98 points. Dazzling numbers.
G: Let’s go back to your consulting job: with so many wineries spread around Italy and around the world, how do you organize yourself to be always on top of your game?
R: In the beginning they were a few and I used to follow them on my own. Then, they increased and so did the people involved. At first, there was the Studio Cipresso, then, Winemaking which is a firm of professionals; six of them helping with the technical matters. Our responsibilities are divided by areas which they follow hand on. I’m the supervisor for this “school”. It is still my philosophy, they all report to me and then I make the decision and ultimately I’m the one responsible for the projects. Luckily I’m now able to make wine with four hands with some really talented professional people who are truly focus on these projects and who, like me, travel miles and miles every year.
G: Now that you have this structure that allows you to have some free time, you’ve decided to take on two new big projects: “Winecircus” and “Le Stazioni del Vino” (The Wine Stations). So tell me: don’t you enjoy resting?
R: (Laughs) This is a good point! I’d like to, but the thirst of research and the ambition to close the circle that started twenty years ago in the wine world is very high. In fact, there are two concurrent projects, Wine Circus and Winemaking, which in reality are the same type of plan but they are expressed in two different platforms. Winemaking deals with consulting, explores the land and meets with many different types of people, both in the work environment and in those with whom I have to mediate in order to find the right compromise into obtaining a feasible wine. On the other hand, Winecircus starts as a gymnasium, a big laboratory where my boys and I go above and beyond. We do not make wine for the market but here is where we deepen specific thesis that in other people’s vineyards cannot be done. So, we try to vinify some stocks of grapes that are impossible, vertical, in mountains, in old places, from old vines, by the sea, on the original rootstock, forgotten and abandoned varietals. Thanks to this project now we have a series of ingredients able to generate some very interesting wines, and among these, one that was released for the first time a few years ago, called La Quadratura del Cerchio. This actually represents a wine that is born with respect to the terroir, and that, at the same time, takes advantage of that terroir as an extraordinary ingredient, able to offer formulas that come out of mathematical theories but that develop into a more philosophical concept, for which, sometimes 1+1 can even be equal to 3. Wine Station, instead, by offering consulting for WineMaking and research for Winecircus, wants to be the Disneyland of wine, a place where the connoisseurs and the people curious about the wine with a sporty spirit can be able to drink in a very peculiar location. This is an old place that we are bringing back, where they can drink great wines, free of ties and lies, this is therefore, a real and original space. This is an area that I hope to be the one where instead of chasing after the world, the vineyards, the people, I welcome and wait for friends and connoisseurs to come and see me in such a suggestive place.
Stay tuned for the 3rd and last part...