In the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, outside the gated enclave of Montepulciano, a few miles down La Strada di Vino Nobile, you will find La Ciarliana winery. This little crown jewel is a small, family run winery, gently situated on 22 acres, that produces very notable Vino Nobile wines.
The winery’s logo pays tribute to La Chiesa di San Michele’s famous bell tower, which lay in ruin in the distance. The founder of La Ciarliana was Santo Pellegrino Frangiosa, who was born and raised on the podere (farm), just a stone’s throw from centro Montepulciano. Santo Pellegrino was one of the first wine pioneers in the valley to plant the famed Prugnolo Gentile, otherwise known as Sangiovese, in the early 1960’s.
Thirty-five years later, grandson Luigi Frangiosa inherited the family wine estate. Under Luigi’s careful guise, intensive soil studies were done and the vineyards were replanted with Sangiovese clones, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and other local red varietals.
I had the pleasure of meeting Luigi and his sister Gessica for a private wine tasting and cellar tour. Luigi was gracious, kind and humble, speaking slowly in Italian, with a twinkle in his eyes.
The tour was very unique in that it was conducted mostly in Italian by Luigi himself, with translation by Gessica. At one point in the tour, we were at a loss for words for a specific wine making method, so Luigi pulled out his Italian-English Wine Dictionary. It was a most memorable afternoon filled with laughs and good stories. What could be better than drinking wine and playing Italian charades?
WIthin the last 10 years, La Ciarliana’s wine cellars were updated and modernized with steel fermenting tanks, replacing the concrete tanks that were common used in the early 1960’s. French and Slavonia oak barrels were stacked from floor to ceiling, filled with the estate Vino Nobile wine.
As with all wines in Italy, the Vino Nobile is strictly regulated by the Italian government and the Consorzio di Vino di Montepulciano. The minimum aging requirement for Vino Nobile is 24 months with at least 12 months in the barrels and 12 months in the bottles.
In classic Italian fanfare, I was welcomed with a large piatta (plate) of salume, proscuitto, pecorino, pane (bread) and fresh olive oil from the podere. Four bottles of the estate wine were presented ~ the 2010 Vino Nobile (Sangiovese/Merlot blend), the 2009 Rosso di Montacpulciano (Sangiovese, Caniolo, and Merlot), the 2010 Santo Pellegrino Toscana IGT (Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot and Sangiovese) and the 2007 Vigna Scianello, (100% Sangiovese).
Today, La Ciarliana produces around 50,000 bottles of Vino Nobile and Rosso di Montepulciano. The estate grown wines are widely distributed throughout Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland and the United States and are often showcased at European wine tasting competitions.
I will always feel like a special invited guest at La Ciarliana and will definitely return to visit my new amico, Luigi, and to share a glass of his wonderful Vino Nobile! Private wine tastings and specialized vineyard experiences are available by appointment. www.laciarliana.it