From the start our objective has been high quality, combined with a first class service and great attention to detail. Passion for nature, hard manual work in the vineyards, extremely low yields, modern technology in the cellar and a lot of patience come together to produce the following wines:
The grapes are of the Sangiovese variety, also called Brunello in Montalcino. This clone's characteristics include a low productivity and a high content of extractive substances in the skin, thanks to the soil and the particularly favorable microclimate of Montalcino.
Only the best of these grapes make it through the rigorous three-step pruning process during the growing year. The first selection occurs in the spring, when the vines start budding. Shoots in excess are sacrificed in order to strengthen those that are left to grow. A second selection, called "green harvest," takes place in July, when some of the bunches are removed so that the remainder can ripen better. The third selection takes place about ten days before the harvest: each single bunch is checked by our full-time trained staff who leave only the best to enjoy the last days of sunshine and concentrated nutrition. Moreover, this prevents the harvest crew picking the grapes that would not reach our quality standards.
Plastic crates are used for transport from the vineyards to the cellar in order to prevent damage to the grapes. Because the cellar is located in the geographic center of the property, the grapes travel only a minimum distance before being processed.
The use of two special sorting tables follows this concept logically with their ability to facilitate a hyper manual selection of each individual berry. One such table placed before destemming allows for bunches with excessive fruit variance (under-maturity) to be easily identified and removed. A second sort after destemming provides an ultimate opportunity to pick out green berries, if any, or those with jacks, as well as any vegetal matter and/or any crushed berries. Imagine, only pristinely ripe, juicy, concentrated fruit arriving in the fermentation tanks… The results are astounding and “quality control” takes on a whole new dimension here at Poggio Antico.
To ensure the best quality, yields are kept intentionally low and may vary - even considerably - from year to year depending on the characteristics of each vintage. The production per hectare does not, in any case, exceed 50 quintals of grapes per hectare (2,00 metric tons per acre), although the regulations for Brunello di Montalcino allow up to 80 quintals per hectare (3.4 metric tons per acre).
Today, the total annual wine production averages 100,000 bottles (about 8,300 cases). This will gradually increase to 130,000 bottles (about 10,800 cases) as new vineyards - planted in the past few years to renew older ones - will also come into production.
The use of natural cork as the closure for the bottles of Poggio Antico is vital for the interaction of micro quantities of oxygen together with the wine for a healthy ageing process. In keeping with our trademark quest for the highest of standards, the estate uses only the very best cork available on the market. In fact, we require our purveyor to supply us with corks which have gone through additional manual selections, above and beyond those already done by the most sophisticated machines. Due to the exacting work involved in supplying this kind of choice selection we are required to commit to, and pre-order the quantities we need one year in advance. Poggio Antico uses 100% Italian corks, from Sardinia.
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July 2002 marked the end of the construction project for a new wing of the cellar. The newly increased production required more room for winemaking, storage and bottle aging. Moreover, the cylindrical vats that were used in the past for fermentation were completely replaced with 23 truncated cone-shaped stainless steel tanks with removable lids. The 2000 vintage was the first one to ferment in these special vats. Their unique features are their relatively small size and a skin "punch-down" system, operated semi-mechanically thereby substituting the more common process of "pump-over". The result is a better and more gentle extraction of color, fruit and sweet tannins by entirely avoiding the use of pumps while thoroughly, but delicately breaking up the entire surface of the cap. All steel tanks are computer controlled to ensure that the fermentation temperature - decided on a daily basis - does not in any event exceed 32° C (90° F).
To increase space for bottle aging before release, three air-conditioned and humidity-controlled rooms have been built, bringing the total storage capacity to 450,000 bottles.
In the natural cool of the underground cellar, there are both new Slavonian oak barrels and French 500-liter tonneaux. The two sizes of barrels affect bouquet and tannin differently, so they may be alternated to differentiate the wines.