Good ol’ Francesca, also known as my faithful GPS, was in prime working condition. She guided me directly to Villa S. Anna Winery in Abbadia di Montepulciano upon my arrival at Amerigo Vespucci Airport in Firenze (Florence) that bright sunny Saturday afternoon.
Waiting for me was Simona Fabroni Ruggeri, the owner of Villa S. Anna. I had contacted Simona a month before my trip to Tuscany to arrange a meeting. I was fascinated with the idea of meeting Simona, and touring the lovely “feminine” winery that she fondly calls Villa S. Anna.
The vineyards have been a part of the Contini-Ruggeri family for over 200 years and had a stellar reputation for producing very fine Tuscan wines. The family estate was bequeathed to Simona from her grandfather, “Poldo”, whose name is honored on the estate’s best Vino Nobile wine to this day.
For the past 20 years, Simona’s two daughters, Anna and Margherita have taken the lead in the field with the hand selection of the grapes at harvest and in the winery office, taking care of all the bookkeeping, ordering, bottling and labeling from the warehouse on site. The other employees are all women, except for the winemaker, Carlo Ferrini. Simona is extremely dedicated and runs an efficient business, promoting her wines throughout Europe and the United States at top-level wine tasting competitions. This is a huge accomplishment for Simona in a primarily “man’s world” of wine.
Villa S. Anna is considered a small production vineyard on 85 hectares (210 acres) with 15 hectares (37 acres) dedicated to grapes; the rest, interestingly, is farmed in tobacco. This explains why the wines have a slight hint of tobacco in the mouth. Watch the video clip here http://vimeo.com/32284405
The ancient cellars were amazing, located below the 200-year-old villa, where Simona lives. This was the first time I saw the antique glass “decanter-like” bulbs sitting atop the barrels. Simona explained that these fixtures were a type of airlock system used in the primary fermentation process. These fancy airlock glass fixtures were designed to show the level of wine in the barrels and by design, allowed the gases from the barrels to escape from the top of the barrel, thus not allowing oxygen to contaminate the wine, or for the barrels to fill up with carbon monoxide and explode. I would see these elaborate glass bulbs in every wine cellar along my travels in Tuscany! They were so beautiful–I wanted one as a keepsake!
Simona was extremely gracious, proud and very elegant in her presentation of her wines. We had a delightful, private wine tasting in what used to be the horse stables!
The estate wines that we enjoyed were the 2009 Chianti Colli Senesi, Rosso di Montepulciano, 2009 Nobile di Montepulciano and the 2007 Poldo, (Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva), the pride of Villa S. Anna.
When in Montepulciano, I will definitely make a point of stopping here again for another bottle of 2007 Poldo Vino Nobile!