The Podere Salicutti estate is situated in the south-eastern part of the municipality of Montalcino, on route SP 55 to Castelnuovo dell’Abate/S. Antimo Abbey, approximately one and a half hours drive from Florence. The estate comprises eleven hectares of land; of these four hectares of vineyards, one hectare of olive grove, and about three hectares of forest.
At the heart of the estate is the restored original farm house in which the wine cellar with its wooden barrels is located. A new building mostly dedicated to the estate’s business activities was added in 1999. It houses the fermenting cellar, a storage space and the office. A new barrel aging cellar is currently being planned. The Eichbauer family who owns the estate, and its previous owner, Francesco Leanza, co-manage Podere Salicutti and personally supervise all matters concerning the winemaking and the wine cellar as well as administration and sales. Podere Salicutti is the first certified organic vineyard in Montalcino.
The name Salicutti is derived from the stream of the same name, which defines the estate’s southern border. The farm was already mentioned by this name in a cadastral map of the early 19th century when it was still much smaller than today. Over time, it was probably extended twice, for the second time in the late 19th or early 20th century.
A fine example of simple, spontaneous rural architecture, the farm house dates back to the time of sharefarming. Built from stones found in the surrounding fields, the building had stables and storage rooms on the ground floor and living quarters on the upper floor.
Francesco Leanza acquired Podere Salicutti in 1990 with the intention to make wine. Back then, the residents were an old peasant couple who still did without electricity or a bathroom. The grounds were neglected, and the buildings were falling into disrepair. In 1992, Francesco Leanza began to cultivate the land again. He started out by enlarging and modernizing parts of an old olive grove before taking the decisive step in 1994: planting vines on three plots. As the first Montalcino winemaker, Francesco Leanza decided to do without chemical fertilizers and pesticides making Podere Salicutti the first certified organic vineyard in the Montalcino region.
The name of this vineyard is based on its shape, which is reminiscent of an ancient Greek amphitheater. Depending on the climatic conditions, the grapes here develop about the same characteristics as those in the Piaggione. The Sangiovese grapes of this vineyard are usually also processed for the Brunello.
The grapes from the Piaggione vineyard are reserved for our Brunello. Of the estate’s three vineyards, the Piaggione is the one where the grape ripen fastest, namely five to seven days earlier than on the other two sites. They also have a slightly higher sugar content and produce wines rich in polyphenols and extracts with a deeper coloring.
In this vineyard, maturation is slightly delayed compared to the Piaggione and the Teatro. Grapes are a little lower in sugar and color content. The Sangiovese grapes from this vineyard are generally used for the Rosso di Montalcino.
Location: south-southeast to south-southwest
Altitude: 420−470 m / 1380–1540 feet above sea level
Gradient: 14° to 20°, which means the vineyards benefit from optimum sun exposure and ventilation and are protected against north winds.
Average annual rainfall: 510 mm / 20 inches
Winds: primarily southwest (Libeccio) and southeast (Scirocco) winds. Facing south, the vineyards are well protected against north winds (Tramontana and Maestrale).
Climate: located close to the Mediterranean Sea (35 km / 22 miles), the climate is mild and well suited to grape ripening. It tends to be very hot and dry between July 15 to August 15, while in June and September, it is usually mild with some rainfall.
The soils of the different vineyards are typical for the Monte Amiata hillsides. Derived primarily from the pedogenesis of the rock subsoil, these soils are part of the Austroalpine nappes. The predominant formation of sedimentary subsoil (clay, sandstone, lime sand) is called marls, which is thinly layered and brittle. It formed approx. 60 to 80 million years ago during the Paleocene, when sediments settled on the sea and lake beds of igneous plutonic rock commonly called Formation of Santa Fiora or Alberese.
On the eastern part of the estate, from north-northeast toward the south-southwest, the soils are different. They are comprised of rock types such as argillite (clayey layers) and sand lime rock (lime sand).
All soils contain a certain share of younger rock types that have accumulated due to erosion or landslides in relatively recent epochs.
All soils are fairly calcareous, with an average to high share of active limestone and manifest an alkaline reaction.
The Wine Cellar
Stainless steel vats
The cellar is equipped with stainless steel vats of varying capacities, ranging from 390 to 2,080 gallons, adding up to a total of 8,450 gallons. All vats are automatically temperature-controlled and equipped with autonomous electronic control switches. For the pressing of the marc, a traditional hydraulic press with a wooden cage is used.
The air-conditioned, 850 square feet vinification cellar is located in a partly submerged new annex that merges unobtrusively with the old building complex. Its walls and ceilings are insulated and the external walls feature traditional walling material such as local stones and salvaged bricks
The Barrel Aging Cellar
Well protected by the thick, old stone walls, the air-conditioned, 850 square feet barrel aging cellar is located in the former stables of the old farm house whose original architectural features were maintained and enhanced through careful renovation.
Wines are aged in tonneaux barrels of French oak (130 gallons) and a range of wooden barrels of French and Slavonian oak, with the applied capacities increasing slowly over the course of the aging process (from 260 to 520, 780 and finally 1,040 gallons).