Tuscany is not a region one associates with Pinot Noir: much of the region is simply too hot during the summer, and those who plant Pinot Noir in areas where Sangiovese does swimmingly, for example Chianti, do so “as a challenge,” and then find themselves planting stands of trees to shade their Pinot Noir and keep the grapes from ripening quite as soon as they would under full days of sunlight.
The exception to Tuscany’s being too hot for Pinot Noir is in the Mugello, the mountains to the north of Florence, which have long been known for their winemaking qualities: Cosimo III De’Medici included Pomino among the 4 top Tuscan wine making areas in the famed Bando of 1723 (which introduces the concept of appellation). Cosimo’s Pomino region was what is now Chianti Rufina, but Pomino continues to be important, because it is quite high, up to 600 meters, and in the mid 1800s Vittorio Degli Albizzi, who was familiar with Burgundy, successfully planted both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which continue to the the backbone of modern Pomino wines.
Considering how well Pinot Noir grows in Pomino it comes as no surprise that others in the Mugello area are experimenting with it, and this brings us to Podere Fortuna, an estate that belonged to the Medici family – it’s mentioned in Lorenzo de’Medici’s will, with a note on wine production, 6 casks in 1465.
From a winemaking standpoint the activity under Lorenzo is interesting but a historical curiosity. What’s important is that the estate is directly below the Apennines, which result in considerable day nigt temperature excursions – in July temperatures can fall below 10 C at dawn, and climb to 30 or more during the day. When the current owners decided to make wine that had Andrea Paoletti evaluate the terroir and climate, and then went to Bourgogne for the clonal selections they planted in 2001.
Today they have 6 hectares under vine in two vineyards, one called Col D’Aria that is surrounded by woods and has slightly more clay in the soils, and the other called Fortuni. For Pinot Nero, as with any other varietal, what counts is the work in the vineyards, with careful rigorous selections. Minimal treatments; natural composting.
The cellars are in an ex stable, which they will work on in the future. In 2006 they bought tini troncoconici aperti, upright wooden casks of the sort used in Burgundy. They make the wine as vineyard selections, fermenting it in the tini: Careful grape selections as the bunches enter the cellars, followed by destemming and a second grape selection. They make every effort to remove all traces of stems, because their stems tend to be green when the grapes are ripe The tini also allow them to regulate temperature, which they keep below a certain level. 11 months in barriques, followed by cement tanks in the winter to let sediments settle out, and the wine is bottled without filtration.
Podere Fortuna Fortuni 2004
Rainy fall and lower than average temperatures until July, then normal conditions, and harvest on 11 09. This was their first vintage; they used year-old barriques, and had to work at it to find them for this vintage. In subsequent vintages it was easier.
Deep garnet with black reflections and garnet in the rim. The bouquet is elegant, with sour cherry fruit supported by some greenish vegetal accent and strawberry/raspberry jam acidity; it’s graceful but slightly direct, and this is also the youth of the vineyards. On the palate it’s medium bodied, with fairly rich sour cherry fruit supported by raspberry acidity and by smooth slightly greenish tannins that flow into a clean warm greenish finish with a pleasant sour berry fruit tannic underpinning and some savory accents. No traces of overripeness, and quite deft; the palate displays the same sort of directness as the nose, and this is vineyard youth. The savory notes are quite pleasant and contribute considerably. Impressive, especially considering the youth of the vineyards.
Podere Fortuna Fortuni 2005
The vintage was similar to 2010; normal conditions, dry and hot until August, which was cooler and wetter. They got their cement tanks during the summer. They extended the maceration on the skins here, establishing a pattern that they have continued to follow.
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim paling to orange. The bouquet is less intense than that of the 2004 at first swish, and more earthy, with underbrush and wet leaves mingled with some tree bark; it gives an impression of coolness, and as it opens savory accents also emerge. On the palate it’s medium bodied, with moderately intense softer sour cherry and raspberry fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins that have savory greenish accents, and flow into a clean slightly greenish tannic finish supported by mineral acidity and peppery spice. It comes across as cooler on the palate too, and a touch softer; the fruit isn’t quite as bright as that of the 2004. A somewhat weaker vintage. Interesting however and has a story to tell.
Podere Fortuna Fortuni 2006
This year they bought the fermentini troncoconici and the selection tables. New technology makes a major difference, and with this year they cut back on pump overs, while macerating for 25 days with just a minimum of delestages.
Almandine with black reflections and almandine rim; there’s a little more orange to it. The bouquet is elegant, with rich sour cherry fruit supported by greenish accents and some berry fruit acidity, and also greenish underbrush and some hummus. Quite a bit going on and graceful. On the palate it’s medium bodied, with deft moderately sweet cherry fruit supported by spice and greenish acidity, and by tannins that are smooth and sweet, with a slight brambly underpinning, and flow into a clean bright slightly greenish finish. Deft, and lithe; it’s quick on its toes and has quite a bit to say, and also has the capacity to age nicely for several more years. Nice balance and harmony, and a step up from the first two vintages. The vines are ripening, though they need time if one considers that in Burgundy vines under 20 years of age are considered young.
Podere Fortuna Fortuni 2007
2007 was a good vintage, with high summer temperatures and a mild August with some rain; they worried that the temperatures – 35 C – might be too high for Pinot Noir. They anticipated the harvest to August 28, macerated it slightly less than the 06 – 18-20 days, and cofermented the various clones.
Almandine with brownish black reflections and almandine rim paling to orange. The bouquet is delicate, with floral accents and strawberry raspberry fruit supported by delicate berry fruit acidity that has some bright raspberry notes, and some greenish notes as well coupled with hints of underbrush. On the palate it’s bright, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by deft greenish accents and mineral underbrush more tan acidity, while the tannins are smooth and slightly greenish, flowing into a clean greenish finish. Quite elegant, though more alcoholic, and a wine that will also age well for a number of years.
2008 didn’t work, because it was very wet in the spring and they got peronospera in the vineyards.
Podere Fortuna Fortuni 2009
A perfect vintage, not too hot, dry, and good for Pinot Noir. Except for the heat that came at the end of August, which led them to anticipate the harvest to August 31, a Sunday.
Deep cherry ruby with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is deft, with floral accents mingled with some greenish notes and delicate cherry fruit; it is somewhat closed, and this is something Pinot Noir can do; Andrea says that he expects it to bounce back with time. On the palate it’s elegant, with rich sour cherry fruit supported by clean greenish vegetal acidity and by tannins that are smooth, albeit with a slight greenish youthful burr, and flow into a clean rather savory finish. The palate is superior to the nose and this is due to the phase the wine is in; it needs a few years to get its bearings and promises well.
Podere Fortuna Fortuni 2010
A different vintage, with lower temperatures and rainfall close to the harvest; they brought the grapes in when it was time to cut things short, on September 12 — they feared further rain would bring botrytis. 21 days maceration.
Elegant cherry ruby with delicate black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is still coming together, with some berry fruit supported by hints of graphite shavings and some vegetal notes, supported by some underbrush as well. It’s a bit more direct than the others, and this is in part youth and in part the anticipation of the harvest. On the palate it’s medium bodied, with bright slightly greenish savory berry fruit supported by deft sour cherry acidity and by tannins that have a peppery spicy youthful burr and flow into a clean bright greenish berry fruit finish. Quite pleasant, and shows considerable promise. By comparison with the hotter vintages it has a little more balance because there’s less alcohol in it.
Taken as a group these wines are definitely a step above most of the attempts at making Pinot Noir that one encounters in Tuscany; the temperatures and day night temperature excursions in this area are such that the grapes are ripe but not overripe, and this of course benefits the wines, which are cut from the same cloth, with deft acidities and and tannins that confer considerable elegance, and fine balance.