01 Sep 2017
The jewelin the vineyard
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The young Tenuta Sanoner winery produces biodynamic wines which reflect the character and beauty of Tuscany.

Picture yourself walking through Tuscany. Narrow lanes transport you past box hedges, olive trees and cypresses. Small pockets of woodland alternate with undulating meadows, sometimes punctuated by gnarled oak trees jutting out of the hillside. And amongst it all are the vineyards. Mile after mile of vineyards. The strict geometry of the vines provides a striking contrast to the gently rolling hills in which they stand. It is a picture of exceptional beauty.

Nestled in the midst of this idyll, just a short walk from the ADLER Thermae Spa hotel, is the Tenuta Sanoner winery. Today, it covers an area of 30 hectares, of which twelve are suitable for wine growing, and five of these are already planted with vines. Added to this there are somewhere in the region of 500 olive trees. At the centre of the estate, commanding a breathtaking view of the Val d’Orcia, lies the winery itself. Its elegant, curved façade nestles comfortably into the landscape. Its contemporary, linear interior in natural colours offers an ideal location to while away the hours and savour the estate’s produce. The panoramic terrace affords magnificent views of the Val d’Orcia, making it the perfect place to sample a glass of wine.

In 2007, the Sanoner family was offered a small piece of land above the ADLER Thermae hotel. Three hectares were suitable for agriculture and the remainder was woodland. ‘When we were thinking about what we could do with it’, explains Andreas Sanoner, ‘we said: Why don’t we make wine?’ Introducing agricultural operations to supplement the hotel business seemed an obvious approach. The first vines were planted in 2009. But just a few months later disappointment set in. The majority of the young plants had died, and the soil had dried up as a result of unskilled preparation. The realisation dawned that passion alone was not enough. Knowledge, experience and dedication were lacking. This approach was never going to yield a quality product. So should we give up? Finish the experiment and turn the land into a pretty meadow? Quite the contrary. In the words of Andreas Sanoner: ‘Sooner or later we all harbour an ambition that drives us, which is perhaps a blessing or a curse’. Anyone who visits Tenuta Sanoner today enters a highly professional operation. The cellars are managed by Giuseppe Basta, a man 26 years young who was born and raised in the heart of Tuscany and attended the agricultural college there. Basta did not have to look very far to find a professional role 
model, since his father is working for 30 years for one of the leading Brunello producers. Even in childhood, the wine cellar was ‘a magical place’ for Basta, enchanting him with the ‘aromas, colours and continuous transformations of the wine’.

Supporting Basta in his work is agronomist Alessandro Fonseca, who was already well known by the Sanoner family through mutual friends. The Fonsecas have produced outstanding agronomists and oenologists for centuries, and Alessandro Fonseca has devoted himself to biodynamic cultivation. He believes that "when water, light, wind and soil are in perfect balance, the vines and olive trees will find their own equilibrium. This is why we should be extremely restrained in the work that we do". It is therefore fitting that Tenuta Sanoner’s external oenologist, Matteo Giustiniani, also works for two world-famous Tuscan wineries that employ organic and biodynamic cultivation techniques. Biodynamic cultivation adheres to the guiding principle of minimising interventions in natural growth processes. ‘We are aware’, says Andreas Sanoner, ‘that we are just a
small link in nature’s cycles’. It was a legendary saying by Native American Chief Seattle, which he discovered whilst visiting a mystical site in Sedona in the US state of Arizona, that inspired this realisation. 

‘Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together’.

The aim of the Tenuta Sanoner winery is to produce wines that bear within them the typical characteristics of the landscape, its soil and its climate. For years, numerous clones of the Sangiovese grape have been planted in a variety of locations. The quality and yield are subject to regular analysis. How they are cultivated determines the results that are achieved. For this reason, just a few years ago we succeeded in producing outstanding wines, including the Aetos Sangiovese DOC, aged in oak barrels, the Aetos Rosé and the Aetos Sparkling Rosé. The technical equipment in the cellar has a major impact on the quality of the Aetos wines.
Anyone joining Giuseppe Basta on a tour learns how a sophisticated system is used to regulate room temperature and air humidity — in each room, individually. A ventilation system prevents mould from forming and also extracts carbon dioxide. Even temperatures in the concrete and stainless steel vats can be altered to ensure consistent fermentation.

Each aspect of processing follows a dedicated flow system, meaning wines are developed in a set of steps that are logically arranged within the cellar. The clarity afforded by this approach is also very helpful for visitors. By the time they are greeted by Barbara Coppi for a wine tasting in the visitor area, they have a clear understanding of how everything works. Any anyone who hasn’t yet succumbed to the fascination of Tenuta Sanoner will do so when they meet Ms Coppi. She is a small and vivacious person whose cheerfulness is infectious. When she came to Tenuta Sanoner in 2008, she ‘didn’t know anything about wine’. She had previously worked in fashion, selling shoes and clothing. Andyet she felt from the very beginning that she was in the right place: ‘I was immediately impressed by the Sanoner family philosophy’. Embracing it posed no problem at all. In her own words, Coppi believes that "many new paths and opportunities open up for those who approach things with enthusiasm". Now, Barbara Coppi is a qualified sommelier, having achieved the highest level of training within just a few months. At the same time, she also completed all the training needed to deal with the many and varied bureaucratic challenges that go hand in hand with her job. After all, she is responsible for tours, tastings, cookery courses and sales as well as for accounting and ensuring that the winery complies with all legal stipulations.

Andreas Sanoner says that ‘when it comes to wine, we men like to dream, but Barbara always brings us back down to earth’. That is  a good thing. Nevertheless, in a place as fascinating as Tenuta Sanoner, dreaming is definitely allowed.

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