Ambrogio Folonari, president of Ruffino, one of Tuscany's biggest wine companies, is planning to make wine in the Bolgheri region, made famous by such wines as Sassicaia, Ornellaia and Guado al Tasso.
Folonari and his brother Alberto, who is responsible for Ruffino's financial administration, personally purchased more than 100 acres of land last fall near the area called Bolgherese, neighboring the estates of vintners Lodovico Antinori and Angelo Gaja. The brothers' total investment will be just over $5 million after the construction of a winery, Ambrogio Folonari said.
"Bolgheri's fame is so prestigious for its fine wines that I too wanted to have a little share in it," said Folonari. "I'm not investing in a big property, but I know it will be a successful investment, just as I am sure we will make a great wine."
Folonari is bringing in Michel Rolland, a respected Bordeaux-based consulting enologist best known for his powerfully rich Pomerols. Roland also consults for the Ornellaia estate, in which California's Robert Mondavi Winery recently invested.
Maurizio Boboni, Ruffino's viticulture specialist, will be responsible for the new vineyards, which have been planted primarily to Merlot, along with some Cabernet Franc and Syrah.
"I have many friends here, and I will certainly be able to draw from their experience -- another reason to be here," Folonari said. "I am aiming at a high-quality wine on the lines of an international premium blend."
Folonari expects to produce two red wines -- a 100 percent Merlot and a Syrah blended with either Merlot or Cabernet Franc -- beginning with the 2006 vintage. He has not yet determined a price range. Initial production will start at about 7,000 cases, some of which will be available in the United States.
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