Category Archives: Fiorano Bianco

Fiorano: A visit to Azienda Agricola Boncompagni Ludovisi

Alessia Fiorano Rosso Azienda Agricola Boncompagni Ludovisi.

On a June day in Rome last year, the temperature was over 100 degrees as we waited outside the city records hall for Alessia Antinori to pick us up and take us to her winery. Not one of her father, Piero Antinori’s wineries, but to the winery of the late Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Venosa, her grandfather.  I was finally going to see where Fiorano, my favorite red wine, was made.

When the Principe died a few years ago, he left half of the estate to his daughter, who is Piero Antinori’s wife and mother of Alessia.  She then gave her share of the estate to her three daughters.  Alessia lives in Rome and since the winery is only twenty minutes away, just across from the Ciampino Airport, Alessia took over the management of the estate.

The other half of the Boncompagni Ludovisi estate was left to a distant cousin of the Principe who has released a 2006 Fiorano Rosso with the original Fiorano label under his own name, Principe Alessandro Jacopo Boncompagni Ludovisi. He also made a white Fiorano, but is using different grapes than the original.  Alessia said that she hoped they could come to some agreement about the label without going to court.

Restored Tank

Restored Tank

As we were driving to the winery Alessia told us that she was making a number of improvements since her part of the winery was in disrepair. It fact there was not much left and Alessia has undertaken a major restoration.IMG_1915

I asked her about the vines and she said that the people who had worked for her grandfather told her that he ordered them covered with dirt but then a few years later ordered them to be uncovered. In an interview with the late Italian wine writer Luigi Veronelli, Alessias Grandfather said that he would destroy all the vines so that his son-in-law would not get them because Piero did not make wine the way he did. I guess he changed his mind.IMG_1914

Alessia said that her first vintage was going to come from the vines that were uncovered.  Later, when new vineyards are planted, there will be a massal selection of old vines.  She said that the winery was almost ready for its first harvest.  Alessia said that she and her sisters hope to continue the legacy of their grandfather and of the Estate.  This is very good news.

The 1985

The 1985

Despite the very hot day, when Alessia offered to open a bottle of the 1988 Fiorano Rosso, I could not refuse the offer. As I sipped the wine I did not think about the heat only of the well-structured, elegant and smooth wine with aromas of cherry and leather, the long finish and the wonderful lingering aftertaste. This is a great wine!

The 1995

The 1995

A few months later Alessia was in New York and came to dinner at my apartment along with her husband. She brought with her a bottle of the 1995 Fiorano Bianco and a bottle of a 2010 red, which she had made. She said that this wine will be the second wine of the Tenuta di Fiorano and a label and name had not yet been chosen.IMG_2255

 In Rome I had bought a bottle of the 2006 Firoano Rosso made by the new Principe to compare.  It was an easy-drinking wine in a modern style and did not bear any resemblance to the original Fiorano Rosso.  Alessia’s wine was a much bigger, more complex wine with good fruit, but since it was a 2010 it was difficult to judge and needs time to develop.IMG_2254

I also opened a 1994 Fiorano Rosso (made by the grandfather) and it needed at least 10 more years to be ready to drink.   I believe Alessia said that the last vintage made by her grandfather was 1995.

Next time:  the story continues with a visit to the winery in May of 2013 and the improvements Alessia has made.

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Filed under Alessia Antinori, Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Vernosa, Fiorano Bianco, Fiorano Rosso, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Uncategorized

The Fiorano Rosso Dinners

The idea for the Fiorano dinners started when I saw an article with the title by Eric Asimov entitled An Italian Prince and His Magic Cellar in the New York Times. In his magic cellar, Boncompagni Ludovisi, Principe di Venosa, had two white wines one made from Malvasia di Candia and the other from Semillon.  Both were called Fiorano.  What the magic cellar used to contain, but no longer did, was the Fiorano Rosso made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

 Mr. Asimov praised the Fiorano Bianco, and rightly so. They are unique wines that can last 30 years or more. When I visited Rome I would drink Fiorano Bianco and even today it can still be found in Roman restaurants as well as in restaurants and wine stores in NYC.  There were 14,000 bottles of Fiorano Bianco in the cellar but all of the Fiorano Rosso was gone.  I like the Fiorano Bianco, but I love the Fiorano Rosso and would drink it and buy it whenever I could! 

 After reading the article I realized that Mr. Asimov had never tasted the Rosso. Once when I was invited to the Times to take part in the tasting panel, I told him that I had a few bottles of Rosso and would like him to come for dinner so that he could taste them.  It took two years before we could arrange our first dinner.  Eric wrote about the first dinner in an article entitled Mysteries With a Menu in the Times’ Diners Journal and another dinner in the same column in an article entitled Bygone Bottles.

 Altogether there have been four dinners, the last taking place in April.  As far as I know the last vintage of white or red Fiorano was 1995. The elderly prince has since passed away.  There was much speculation about what would happen to the property.  Luigi Veronelli, a well-known wine and food writer, who had interviewed the prince before his death quoted him as saying that he rather would pull up all the vines than see his son-in-law Piero Antinori get them. When he asked the prince about Piero’s daughters, his granddaughters, inheriting the property, he replied, “they follow their father and not me.” There was talk of building apartment buildings on the property because it was so close to Rome.

 All hope was lost – there was no more rosso to be found.  In December of last year, Mr.  Asimov wrote A Family Gets Back to Their Roots.  In the article he wrote,

“Now, though, the deed is done. The estate has been divided among various members of the Antinori family, and the 25 acres or so where the vineyard was planted is now in the hands of the three daughters of Piero and Francesca Antinori. They plan to replant the vineyard. Turns out that when the prince pulled up the vineyard he didn’t destroy it entirely. Some of the vines, which are by nature tenacious and tough, managed to survive. Using cuttings from the surviving vines, the three Antinoris, along with Renzo Cotarella, the Antinori wine director, hope to replant the original vineyard little by little beginning in 2011.” 

Two months ago I was invited to a tasting of Antinori wines given by Renzo Cotarella at Eataly. When Renzo walked in the room and saw me, he walked over and said “We have to talk about Fiorano”. I had to wait until the class was over before we could talk. Renzo said that they were able to find a few vines for the red grapes on the property and had produced a 2010. He said that I had more experience with Fiorano Rosso than anyone else. We agreed that we liked the red better than the white. I believe the only bottles of the red that he had in his possession were from 1988. I had a number of questions about how the made wine was made and would it be the same. Renzo said that he would be back in October and I immediately began planning our next Fiorano dinner so we could continue our discussion.

 In my opinion, Fiorano Rosso is a unique wine. At the dinner last year we had a 1967 that was given to me by a man from Holland. The wine was 43 years old, the fill was almost to the top, and the wine was fantastic showing no signs of age.  The big question for me is, will the Antinori daughters and Renzo Cotarella make a wine that is like other wines, or will they make Fiorano Rosso.

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Filed under Fiorano Bianco, Fiorano Rosso, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine