Historic Tuscan producer Marchesi de' Frescobaldi has spent $1.5 million to purchase a nearly 300-acre estate, called Vigneti di Nugola, on Tuscany's west coast. There, the family firm -- well-known for high-end reds such as its Brunellos, Mormoreto Cabernet Sauvignon and Lamaione Merlot -- intends to produce a new Bordeaux-style blend priced at less than $20 a bottle. .
The Frescobaldis already own more than 2,500 acres of vineyards on nine estates in other areas of Tuscany, such as Chianti Classico, Chianti Rufina, Montalcino and Pomino. In addition, the family set up a high-profile joint venture with California's Robert Mondavi Corp. in 1995 to make the super Tuscan reds Luce and Lucente. The Frescobaldis also recently bought a 70 percent stake in an estate in the Collio appellation in northeastern Italy.
Though the purchase agreement for the new Tuscan estate is being signed only this week, the tractors had already moved in earlier this winter to clear an initial 60 acres for vineyards, which are being planted to Cabernet Sauvignon.
According to Lamberto Frescobaldi, the company's director of viticulture and winemaking, another 85 acres will be planted next year, followed by more plantings over the next few years, for a total of about 250 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, with some Syrah on the higher ground. In addition, Frescobaldi said, the family firm is setting up a five-year project for a new winery on the estate.
"We aim to produce a lightly oaked red Bordeaux blend that will retail for under $20," said Frescobaldi. "There are enough big, oaky reds on the market," he added. "We want to produce a wine, with a nice bouquet and soft tannins, that fills a gap in the market -- the sort of wine that we feel Tuscany isn't currently delivering."
The new estate is located in the village of Nugola, about 25 miles north of Bolgheri and 10 miles east of Livorno -- a hitherto little-known area for winemaking in Tuscany, with no officially designated Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC). The new wine will therefore carry the broader Indicazione Geographica Tipica (IGT) designation.
"We feel a bit like pioneers in this new area," said Frescobaldi. "While it's always exciting to make a premium red like Luce, the prospect of a new estate producing a quality, medium-priced wine in good quantity is also very stimulating indeed."
Check our recent ratings of Marchesi de' Frescobaldi wines.
Read recent news about Frescobaldi: