Who we are
Andrea Franchetti works with two very different vineyard projects. Franchetti created his first estate Tenuta di Trinoro from scratch, on rough farm and woodland in the far-flung reaches of southwest Tuscany. Though a significant challenge, this was equaled by his endeavor on the slopes of Mt. Etna, which involved the renaissance of reclaimed formerly abandoned terraces of vines upon Sicily’s live volcano.
Both sites are extraordinary, complex, and poles apart in terms of terroir. From both his Tuscan and Sicilian estates, Franchetti has produced a portfolio of wines that is rich and diverse. Each wine expresses the characteristics of the vintage, the particulars of the locations, and the fullest potential of the varieties.
Tenuta di Trinoro is considered one of the most iconic wines produced in Italy today. The estate, planted on virgin soil following the vision of owner and winemaker Andrea Franchetti, is planted solely with Bordelais grapes, with a strong preponderance of Cabernet Franc. The isolated estate occupies an area of about 200 hectares, of which 22 are planted with vines. It is located in the Val d’Orcia, between 450 and 600 meters above sea level, where the eroded rock of the mountain gives way to the limestone and clay of an ancient sea floor. These Super Tuscan wines are unique in their area, expressing the particular conditions of this elevated, inland valley.
Tenuta di Trinoro is the flagship wine of its namesake winery, and only several hundred cases are produced each vintage, making it highly sought-after by collectors. The flagship blend varies based on the vintage, but it is predominantly Cabernet Franc and Merlot, along with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Trinoro also produces other distinctive red wines focused on single varieties including Palazzi, a selection of 100% Merlot; the Campi, three single vineyard wines of 100% Cabernet Franc; and Le Cupole, the second wine to Tenuta di Trinoro.
Andrea Franchetti arrived on Mt. Etna in 2000 and helped to initiate the renaissance of viticulture on the mountain and an international discovery of the region as a quality wine region. Franchetti makes eight different wines at his winery Passopisciaro, fewer than 8,000 total cases annually. Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe, given to relatively frequent lava spills. These spills devastate the landscape, yet each flow leaves a unique mineral profile, giving rise to the notion of various terroirs, here called Contrade. The borders of the Contrade reflect old feudal property lines, which are still mapped out on the local land registry. As Passopisciaro, we respect and play to the strengths of the terroir on Etna, producing wines of remarkable complexity and individual personality.
Six of these wines are focused on the indigenous grape Nerello Mascalese, a late-ripening grape with little color, large bunches, strong skins, ancient vines grown on restored terraces at various altitudes across the mountain, selected for their density, vine age, and exposition. The wine Passorosso is a bright, holistic rendering of the grape that is unique and ever-present on the volcano, blending from different altitudes and lava flows. First made in 2001, it has been a textbook example of Etna wine ever since. Starting in 2008, Passopiscaro began to bottle the top sites separately, helping to usher in a cru system on Etna. These five Contrada wines — Chiappemacine, Porcaria, Guardiola, Sciaranuova, and Rampante — each come from vineyards of different ages and are each on a lava flow with different minerals, grain size, and altitudes.
In addition to the wines made of Nerello Mascalese, Passopisciaro produces two wines from international varieties, densely planted in the Contrada of Guardiola: a pure, mineral-driven Chardonnay, reminiscent of the great whites of Burgundy, as well as a produces a striking red, Franchetti, made with the grapes Petit Verdot and Cesanese d’Affile, denser and more concentrated than the wines of the local variety. Thus, while the Nerello wines are “wines of place” expressing their unique terroir, Franchetti is a true winemaker’s wine, expressing a particular vision of the maker. Likened to Sassicaia in terms of the attention it first brought to its region, these wines demonstrate a particular genius and forethought to produce wines that could rank amongst the finest in the world.
Sancaba is a new Pinot Noir project from Tenuta di Trinoro and Passopisciaro. Situated high in the hills above San Casciano dei Bagni, on the southern edge of the province of Siena, the vineyards of Sancaba lie in ideal conditions for growing pinot noir: Cool winds, changes between temperatures from warm days to cool nights, scarce rainfall, and crumbling soils of calcium-rich clay and shale. Its high elevation with a peculiar nordic influence means a longer growing season and harvests that last well into the month of October. Today, what was once inhospitable and remote borderland is prime terroir for a most surprising Pinot Noir.
“I like making wine. It is a work of art that changes with every year. A person is influenced during that year by the landscape of the place where he makes it. He is impressed by the natural scenery of the every day, through the changing seasons, and transfers this impression to the wine he makes. So, first: every year the wine is different. Second: as I change, my winemaking changes. Wines carry the signature of who makes them. Wines are very much like the winemakers who made them. In the beginning you are relaxed, and only need to focus on the viticulture, which you have time to learn because the first grapes come on the plants after 4-5 years. Then comes picking – the most difficult thing to decide when to do it, and you need a lot of experience to pick at the right ripeness, not under ripe nor overripe. One day of difference changes the wine completely. Then you have to manage the fermentation, and all the hundreds of stages of winemaking after that, each one of which calls for a decision, and they all accumulate, giving a particular style to the wine. It is too complicated to describe them, but it continues until you bottle, some twenty months later. The first times I panicked a lot. But I had talent and I had good teachers, winemakers whom I called on.” – Andrea Franchetti