One of Tuscany's up-and-coming producers, Antonio Moretti of Tenuta Sette Ponti, recently bought 74 acres of vineyards on the island of Sicily, where he hopes to produce a Nero d'Avola red, a white wine and a passito dessert wine, made from raisined grapes. The purchase price was not disclosed.
The vineyards are located in the commune of Noto, in the southeast corner of the island, about 15 miles from Avola itself. About one-third of the vineyards are already planted to 20-year-old Nero d'Avola vines, and Moretti is in no hurry to rip them up and replant. "This is a great area for Nero d'Avola," he said. "I want to see what the existing vines can produce before making any great changes in the vineyards."
Moretti has not yet determined prices or total case production for his new Baglio "Le Palme" wines, and added that plans for a winery on the property were at a very early stage.
His original 750-acre estate, Sette Ponti, set on the east side of the Valdarno (Valley of the River Arno), between Florence and Arezzo, produces two wines: Crognolo, which is mainly Sangiovese, and Oreno, a Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend. The 1999 vintage was the first for Oreno and the second for Crognolo, and both received outstanding reviews. Carlo Ferrini, one of Italy's top consulting enologists, helped Moretti create the Sette Ponti wines and will also be working with him at the Sicilian estate.
Moretti, 51, began widening his wine horizons in 1999, when he bought a second Tuscan property, the 110-acre Le Fornaci estate in the coastal region of Maremma. To date, he has invested around $2 million in the estate, with the goal of producing a single wine -- a Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend. Called Poggio al Lupo, it is due for its first release in 2004.
Moretti is still, perhaps, better known as a fashion entrepreneur -- last year, he set up a joint venture with fashion-house Prada to market his Car Shoe driving shoes -- yet he is steadily becoming a force to be reckoned with on the Italian winemaking scene.
Check our recent ratings of Sette Ponti wines.