Christian Le Sommer, the former technical director of famed Bordeaux first-growth estate Chbteau Latour, is now making wine in Tuscany. He has signed on as consulting enologist for Fattoria Le Pupille, the highly regarded Italian wine estate that produces superb reds in the region of Morellino di Scansano.
Le Sommer spent more than a decade making outstanding wines at the Pauillac estate, including the superb 1990 Latour, which earned a perfect 100 points from Wine Spectator. He left about a year ago to work as a consulting enologist; his other projects include the Portuguese and Chilean wines of Domaines Barons de Rothschild, owner of Chbteau Lafite Rothschild.
"We are very excited with Christian joining us," said Stefano Rizzi, who runs the 10,000- to 12,000-case Fattoria Le Pupille with his wife, Elizabetta. "The French really have a great attention to detail in winemaking and viticulture. In just a few weeks, we have already learned a great deal."
The Rizzis have already been making great wines -- for example, their 1997 Saffredi, a Cabernet Sauvignon-based red, received 95 points. The powerful, rich wine has masses of fruit and tannins, yet shows an amazing harmony and finesse.
The couple is currently building a new winery and planting more than 85 acres of new vineyards. "I see huge potential in the region, not only for Sangiovese, but for other varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot," said Rizzi.
Morellino de Scansano, about 20 minutes' drive east of the coastal city of Grosseto, is one of the hottest new regions in Tuscany. Although Le Pupille has made the region's reputation, dozens of producers from Italy, as well as a few from abroad, have recently invested in vineyards there. These investors include California-based Robert Mondavi Winery, along with Marchesi de' Frescobaldi, Badia a Coltibuono, Poliziano, Jacopo Biondi-Santi, the Mazzei family of Chianti Classico's Castello di Fonterutoli and the Barbi family of Montalcino's Fattoria dei Barbi.
"The region is amazing," said Le Sommer, who has already visited the Rizzis twice in the last month. "Also, the Rizzis' motivation and dynamism are fantastic. I am very happy to be working with them ... plus, the wines are an inspiration."
Learn more about Chbteau Latour:
Read senior editor James Suckling's recent reports on Tuscany: