When thinking of Tuscany, one often pictures the winding roads and rolling hills lined with sculptural cypress trees. Tuscany is, however, much more than a scene of countryside idyll – this is a region whose climate is also shaped by sea breezes and the warm currents of the Mediterranean. With a 230 km coastline, there is another, pivotal side to the Tuscan identity, which translates into terroirs that create wines with a wholly unique character.
This coastal Tuscany is the home of Tenuta Prima Pietra, an estate spanning across 200 hectares of which 11 are planted to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc vines. With an eponymous IGT, the estate provides a true reflection of this pocket of Tuscany where the sea and the land meet in perfect harmony.
A unique terroir for a talented winemaker
Located just a few kilometres from the Tyrrhenian Sea, close to the picturesque mediaeval village of Riparbella, Tenuta Prima Pietra covers the southern slopes of Poggio di Nocola, above the right bank of the River Cecina. The estate’s vineyard sits 450 metres above sea level, surrounded by Mediterranean shrubs, woodland, and olive groves – both altitude (the vineyard is the highest in the entire appellation) and biodiversity play key roles in the quality of the grapes produced, and in this territory’s natural propensity for sustainable viticulture. With altitude moderating temperatures at night, and the sea breeze providing constant aeration, disease pressure is significantly reduced and the need for treatment is extremely limited. This explains why most of the region’s vineyards are organically and/or biodynamically farmed, with Tenuta Prima Pietra itself having obtained organic certification in 2016.
Winemaker Cecilia Leoneschi, perhaps better known for her work at Tenuta Prima Pietra’s sister estate, Castiglion del Bosco, harnesses the potential of this unique terroir to produce a wine that is both complex and notably lifted, mirroring the essence of the vineyard from which it hails. The vineyard is tended to and harvested exclusively by hand, thus limiting the compaction of the volcanic, quartz-lined soils abundant in fossils and mineral-rich clays – a geological treasure in themselves. This minerality is evident in the wines, lending a firm yet fresh backbone to the complex aromas developed through the slow and long ripening period, extended by the fresh sea breezes and wide diurnal temperature range resulting from the high altitude.
Firm believers that wines are made first and foremost in the vineyard, Leoneschi and her team apply in the cellar the same attention to detail that drives the work in the vineyard – it is this level of care that fundamentally shapes each bottle of Prima Pietra. The varieties are fermented separately using native yeasts only; the wine is then aged in French oak barriques for 10 months before Leoneschi executes the final blending. This is followed by another eight months of ageing in oak before bottling.
An invitation to experience excellence
While expressed in each bottle produced under its roof, the unique elegance of Tenuta Prima Pietra most vividly experienced at the estate itself. In 2019, the construction of a tasting room next to the state-of-the-art winery – both housed in the estate’s centuries-old farmhouse – was completed. Guests from around the world are now invited to discover this place of natural and cultural beauty, which boasts breathtaking views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Guided by Prima Pietra’s wine experts, visitors can enjoy a variety of tasting experiences and discover the wines of both Tenuta Prima Petra and Castiglion del Bosco, as well as a variety of local produce – cheese, cured meats, olive oil, honey – which are also shaped by the local terroir. Other immersive experiences, including cooking classes and lunch, are also available.
Wine Lounge in Florence, a unique tasting experience
If visiting Tenuta Prima Pietra or Castiglion del Bosco, one should make a stop at the latter’s Wine Lounge in Florence – the perfect beginning or end to a trip to Tuscany. A truly one-of-a-kind venue, the lounge is located in the historycal Palazzo Capponi – a Renaissance palace dating back to the 16th century.Guests can enjoy bespoke experiences and taste a range of wines from the Castiglion del Bosco and Prima Pietra estates, gaining insight into Tuscany’s different terroirs and winemaking heritage, while being in the heart of the region’s capital, a stone throw’s away from the iconic Ponte Vecchio.