The charming and impressive Tuscan vineyard of Monte Chiaro has been run by the Griccioli family since the 1760’s. Since 2005, it has been managed by the equally charismatic Alessandro Griccioli, the winemaker behind our Arteliquida Rosso and Chianti Colli Senesi Riserva ‘345 wines. We take a few moments to talk to him about the history of Monte Chiaro, what ignited his passion for wine and the challenges facing a modern vineyard.
How did you become a winemaker?
Monte Chiaro, our gorgeous family estate used to produce bulk wine since 1760, as part of one of the many agricultural activities, which included extra virgin olive oil, wheat, sunflower seed, barley, cattle rearing. My love for wine and the idea of creating my own winery and exporting bottles all over the world, grew inside me after completing the MBE of Wine Marketing and Management at the Bordeaux Wine Institute.
Previously I completed a degree in Environmental Economics and my Sommelier and Official Taster diplomas were more hobby which then led me to make life changing decisions. Bordeaux, capital of the French wine, and the intimate knowledge of its market structure and wine making, made such an impression on me, that the dream of producing my own wine rapidly became an obsession. I then rented the estate from all the owner relatives and I was able to proudly present my first Super Tuscan “Primum Vinum” 2005 at Vinexpo in 2007.
What do you like most about your job?
The never-ending inspiration that keeps the flame of this job always lighted. My inspiration comes from exceptional wine growers all over the planet and their dedication. I also like the amazing clients and wine lovers, that show so much love and loyalty. I like to embrace the climatic and agricultural challenges and adapt my wine making techniques and managing solutions.
What do you like least about your job?
In the last five years global warming and unpredictable climatic conditions have given me big challenges for wine production. There have been some extreme droughts, spring frosts, hail and animal pests. Wine, unlike any other beverage, is a product from pure agriculture. It is a matter of great satisfaction but also a very risky job that requires lot of flexibility and integrity.
What’s the best wine you’ve made at the vineyard?
All my wines in some specific vintages have been my superstar products. If I have to pick one I’d like to mention Supertuscan Arteliquida Rosso 100% Malvasia Nera 2010. This was my first vintage of this rare grape variety close to Tempranillo. It expressed an exceptional varietal definition with hints of chocolate and black pepper and very long finish. I wish I could still have many bottles of that wine, but they are all gone!
Do you have a favourite wine from outside the Tuscany region? If so, what?
As a true wine lover and recent WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) Diploma student, in order to fulfil a highly regarded qualification as wine expert and communicator, I regularly explore wines from all over the world. I have a special affection for Burgundy wines and all those wines with soul and character, which is not linked to a particular style, grape or region, but more on the harmonic balance of the wine components. If I have to pick one it would be Château Léoville Las Cases 1995, from Saint Julian, Medoc, Bordeaux.
What’s new at Monte Chiaro?
At Monte Chiaro we’ve been replacing some 50% of the vineyards in the last five years. We are working on the new baby vines, which will have an impact on quality and quantity. We work hard to give consistency to our bottle brands and to create the best possible oenotourism activities for visitors and wine lovers.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing the wine industry at this time?
That is a quite big question! Wine is one industry that produces much more than it sells. Being a producer of agricultural products, with a lack of consistency in the quality there is no proper branding as per the beer or spirits industry and also no consolidation, with still very fragmented ownerships. Global warming is an issue we all face as well as an increasing trend towards environmentally respectful and organic farming.
Tell us something about yourself that we might not know.
I love street photography and my favourite hobby is to sneak around the streets of East London, taking photos of some unique people or situations. I sometimes publish and exhibit them. (alegriccio.portfoliobox.net/). I also like to create some gourmet recipes with our full organic vegetable garden from the estate.
Become a 3D Wines member and you can meet Alessandro on our Tuscany event in October!