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Top Italian Sparkling-Wine Producer Invests in Tuscan Estate

Michèle Shah
Posted: October 28, 2000

One of Italy's best sparkling-wine producers, Bellavista, in the Franciacorta region, has invested in a large property in an up-and-coming Tuscan appellation, Monteregio di Massa Marittima DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata), near the coastal town of Castiglione della Pescaia.

Bellavista's proprietor, Vittorio Moretti, who owns Gruppo Moretti, a holding company with interests in the construction industry, plans to build a winery and establish vineyards on the 1,235-acre property. The estate, called Tenuta La Badiola, currently includes 150 acres of olive trees, a 19th-century villa and several other farm buildings.

By spring 2002, Moretti also wants to convert the estate's existing buildings into a Relais & Chateaux hotel with about 40 rooms, a gourmet restaurant and a nine-hole golf course. The Moretti family already owns a Relais & Chateaux hotel, L'Albereta, near Bellavista.

The Monteregio di Massa Marittima DOC is known for red wines made from Sangiovese, in a style similar to the wines of Chianti. Producers in the region also make a rosH from Sangiovese, dry white wines from Trebbiano Toscano, Vermentino and other varieties, and two types of Vin Santo, the traditional sweet Tuscan wine made from dried grapes.

La Badiola will not begin making its first vintage before 2005. "We are planning to plant an initial 50 acres of vines this November," said Martino de Rosa, 36, Moretti's son-in-law and general manager of Gruppo Moretti, who is in charge of the La Badiola project. "Over the next two years, we aim to gradually increase the vines to a total of 125 acres."

While de Rosa declined to reveal what varieties they would be planting, he said they intended to make one Monteregio DOC wine, as well as "something more innovative, something on the lines of a blockbuster IGT."

In addition to Bellavista, Gruppo Moretti owns two other wineries: the 37,500-case Contadi Castaldi, also in Franciacorta, and Petra in the Tuscan area of Suvereto, which carries the Val di Cornia DOC. Moretti bought Petra in 1997 and expanded the vineyards from 37 acres to 296 acres over three years. Next spring, Petra is releasing its first bottling, a total of 500 cases of a Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend from the 1997 vintage.

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