My Little Tuscany in USA I

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Sangiovese’s long history is closely tied to that of Italy itself. To analyze Sangiovese from a historical point of view, it is necessary to consider two important elements – the myth of the origin of its name, and its typicality.

MITH. Myths are created by societies to give a particular significance to the phenomena and events they experience. The myth related to Sangiovese revolves around the origin of its name. Many hypothesis connect the name Sangiovese to blood, the symbol most closely linked to wine. Roma mythology made Jupiter a powerful God – the name “Sanguis Jovis” /Blood of Jupiter was most likely bestowed on the wine. Others connect the name to the idea that it was “good for the blood” – a belief strongly held among some traditional Tuscan families to this day.

Yet it is the Etruscans who early on make wine an integral part of their celebrations and rituals. Even though we do not have a complete understanding of the Etruscan language, we know that the word “vinum” forms part of it, as does the word “sanisva”/ father or ancestor., The latter is very similar to a dialect word used in Romagna “sanzvè” or Sangiovese. No wonder that to these days, Tuscany and Romagna argue about what should be the real birthplace of Sangiovese.

TYPICALITY. Typicality is a wide concept whose story and tradition go back more than 6000 years. It is strictly linked to the territory, the production style and to the point in time and its social context. Wine is a product with a strong typicality, and as such includes both tangible and intangible features. Consumers of wine then and now acquire more than simple tangible aspects of the wine. They often associate the drinking of wine with special occasions or rituals seeking the notion that they are enjoying quality product by which a variety of emotions can be experienced.


TYPICALITY I. Prior to 1500, there is no written mention of Sangiovese. The first to write about Sangiovese is Gioanvettorio Soderini in his book “Trattato sulla coltivazione delle viti” Firenze 1590. In his work Soderini testifies, “Sangiogheto is a juicy and full wine that never fails”. Later on, Cosimo Trinci from Pistoia in his “Agricoltore sperimentato” – Lucca 1726 – says that “San Zoveto is a grape of beautiful quality and very abundant”. Cosimo Villifranchi in his “Oenology Toscana” defines San Gioveto as the most important grape variety present in the best of Tuscan wines. While in Tuscany a few authors write about Sangiovese, in Romagna, where there is no written records, the name Sangiovese frequently appears in oral literature and performances. During the 18th century, the evidence of Sangiovese grows more abundant. Countless are the authors who consider Sangiovese the king of the Tuscan grape variety, and names such as Montalcino, Montepulciano appear as the territory of great quality. In its long history Prugnolo, Brunello and Sangiovese are studied and analyzed first as separate varieties than as having a common ancestor. It is Apelle Dei, Secretary of the Ampelographical Commission of the Siena Province, who in 1876 affirms that the three names actually refer to the same variety and that the variety is Sangiovese. In the following decades the variety, whether called Sangiovese, San Gioveto, Brunello, Prugnolo or even other names, is steadily and continuously cited everywhere, and it is in the forefront of every improvement applied to wineries and in vineyards both in Tuscany and in Romagna. It appears crystal clear that the territorial typicality of Sangiovese is linked to Tuscany and Romagna the core from which progressively moves to the neighboring regions of Marche, Umbria, Abruzzo and Lazio

TYPICALITY II. Having reviewed typicality in the context territorial origins, it is necessary to look at the one related to the vinification practices. Initially, only in Romagna, the wine is vinified as 100% Sangiovese, while in Tuscany it is blended with other varieties.   Cosimo Trinci notes that the Sangiovese vinified alone is “a bit too stiff but it expresses itself much better when blended with other varieties”; Villafranchi adds that Sangiovese “gives more body to much lighter varieties”. Typically for those times, it is blended with Canaiolo, Colore, Trebbiano and Malvasia. Bettino Ricasoli, most likely the inventor of Chianti, writes in 1872 that there is a need make a perfect Chianti.  His includes 7 parts of San Gioveto, 2 parts of Canaiolo and 1 part of Malvasia.  More importantly, he clearly explains the beneficial aspect of every single variety in the blend – San Gioveto forms the most interesting part of the bouquet and gives vigor; Canaiolo provides amiability that softens the harshness of San Gioveto without altering the bouquet; and Malvasia lightens the taste and makes the wine ready to be drunk. From then on, Sangiovese comes to the forefront of the oenological panorama of Tuscany. Again, it is Ricasoli that gives a key boost to the quality of the wines based on Sangiovese by starting a varietal selection that highlights the best clones of the variety. Among the vine species of Italy, Sangiovese has a prominent position within the many internationally known DOC, DOCG and IGT wines. It is characterized by a great heterogeneity.   It is often given a different name depending on the area where it is grown – in Montepulciano, Sangiovese is called Prugnolo and forms the base of “Vino Nobile di Montepulciano”; in Montalcino it is called Brunello as in “Brunello di Montalcino”; in Scansano, it is called Morellino as in “Morellino di Scansano“; in Carmignano, it is called “Carmignano”, but its most common name is still Sangiovese as it is in the Chianti area, Arezzo, Cortona and many other locations in Tuscany. Abroad, mainly in California and in two French departments, Sangiovese has been planted since 1990.

The origin of the most vine varieties cultivated in Europe “Vitis vinifera” is still partially unknown. As far as we know, the first attempt to cultivate vines occurred in the Caucasian region some 7000 years ago, and from there it moved to Greece and to the Mediterranean. It was only with at the time of the Roman Empire that the vines spread all over Europe. For the last 20-30 years, there have been many attempts to find a genetical origin of Sangiovese. It was only in 1996 that Vignani et al determine its monoclonal origin using the method of microcrystals to study the clones. The presence of some clones not related to the monoclonal origin makes many to believe in a polyclonal origin of the variety, an aspect confirmed by the high phenotypical variability of Sangiovese. Over the centuries, the polyclonal origin creates an ample genetical base where multiple genetic mutations and interactions with the environment significantly widen the variability. In particular, the differences noted are significant where a variety has been cultivated for long time in a territory with climatic variations. That variability is further enhanced by the selective application of different production objectives.

Today, according to the most recent data available, “IV Censimento Generale dell’Agricoltura del 1990″, Sangiovese occupies 11% of the total Italian vine-growing area. In Tuscany, the area with the highest distribution, it represents half of the regional vine-growing area. It is authorized in 16 Italian provinces, recommended in 56, and in 2 French departments of Haute Corse and Corse du Sud“. It has a significant presence in California and in France, while in other world regions like Chile, it is marginal. In Italy it represents 12,4% of DOC and DOCG wine production; it is used in the production of some 388 DOC, DOGC, IGT wines and in the composition of 182 DOC wines with a percentage varying from 15% to 100%. In Tuscany, the most prestigious wines are based on Sangiovese like Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano, Chianti, Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepucliano and Morellino di Scansano. It makes a significant contribution to the production of many high quality IGT Toscana wines known as Supertuscans.

In conclusion, it appears that Sangiovese has an exceptional relevance both in Italian and in the world’s viticulture. Being initially a variety mainly cultivated in Italy, its importance has now spread even to the most recent vine-growing areas thanks to its characteristics of great value. It produces wines of very high quality, great structure and complexity even without blending it with other international varieties to enhance its aromatic spectrum.

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James Suckling Leuta tasting notes!

Another year has gone and we are now back with the tasting made by the most important wine experts. We start this little journey with Mr. J. Suckling. He has tasted Leuta wines for te second year and we are getting good reviews and good points. From the last tasting, done in 2013, all our wines has improved the ratings, we are not at the top of the iceberg yet, but we are definitely working our way up.

NautilusTau 2011Syrah 2011etichetta 1,618 Merlot Cortona_2008tpSolitario 2010Cabernet 2011


Italy – Tuscany – 2011  92

A beautiful, juicy red with plum, chocolate and berry character. Full and velvety-textured. Savory finish. I like the almost salty undertone to the ripe-cherry character.

Italy – Tuscany – 2011  92

A wonderfully floral bouquet of roses and lavender with hints of raspberries. A juicy, succulent full body enveloped by velvety tannins before a sophisticated finish. The use of barrique comes across nicely but not too much. A very well-made, sexy wine.

Italy – Tuscany – 2011  92

Bing cherry, strawberry preserve, caramel, salted chocolate, roasted espresso, spice, custard, camp fire and incense. Full-bodied, modern style.

Italy – Tuscany – 2009  92

Richly perfumed with cherry cola, herbs and spices. Medium-bodied with a silky texture, a generous oak frame and a chewy tannin finish.

Solitario di Leuta Sangiovese
Italy – Tuscany – 2010  91

Zesty nose of braised beef, cherry flambé and shaved chocolate. A dynamic medium-bodied wine with nice grip, structure and balance.

Italy – Tuscany – 2011  90

A ripe and slightly raisiny red with refined tannins and a juicy finish. More Loire-style than Bordeaux.

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2014 Harvest – some color –

Vigna gialla panorama

Hello everybody, sorry for having been away for so long. September is harvest time for us and so I was incredibly busy processing the grapes.

2014 has been a very difficult year in Italy. We had a lot of rain in Spring and in early Summer. I was kind of worried all Summer and it was only in August that I finally felt a little bit happier. August was definitely much better, weather-wise, and we did (as always) a significant green harvest leaving on the plants only one bunch for every branch. It is a very useful process, resulting in more concentration in the remaining bunches, and ultimately the ones that will be going into our winemaking process.

green harvest before green harvest after

Anyway, even though the season recovered a little bit it was a kind of late harvest compared to the previous vintages. We did our picking for Vin Santo in late September and soon after we started to harvest the varieties for the reds.

Uva Vin Santo

As in our tradition we only bring in the top quality grapes, the rest is normally sold to other wineries or tilled into the soil to make compost.

I can easily say now, after I have processed  all my grapes, that it will be a great year for Cabernet Franc. I am really impressed. Potentially it could be my best Cabernet Franc ever made, so far….. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for Syrah, even getting in only the best bunches, I was badly disappointed by the average quality of the wine that resulted after the fermentation. Of course I could intervene much more intensively in the wine but, as you all know, I do not like to be aggressive in the winemaking process; if the wine is not already in the grapes………. It is very likely I will not make a 100% Syrah in 2014, I am sorry to all of you but Leuta 0,618 Syrah Cortona Doc 2014 will not be made. Regarding Sangiovese and Merlot I am pretty satisfied, it will be another good year!


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Leuta at Merano Wine Festival

Hello everyone.

For the 5th year in a row Leuta wines has been selected to be part of one of the most exclusive wine events in Italy, the Merano Wine Festival! This exclusive wine event will be held in Merano from 8th to 10th of november 2014. It is a very important wine exhibition and Leuta is proud to have been a part of it since our first vintage in 2005.

This year Leuta won the following awards from Merano Wine Festival judges:

Leuta 0,618 Syrah DOC Cortona 2011: Gold medal with more than 90 points!

Leuta 1,618 Merlot DOC Cortona 2009: Gold medal with more than 90 points!

Merano 2014

I hope to see all of you at our stand in Merano this November.

Also, more great news for Leuta, in a recent Cabernet Tasting in France, Leuta 2,618 Cabernet Franc 2010 Igt Toscana won a gold medal.

Concorso Cabernet 2014

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July – Bottling time!

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Every june/julyis dedicated to bottling since 2007, when we bottled our Leuta 1,618 Merlot 2005. It takes only a couple of days for Leuta to bottle all their production as we are still very small and it does not take too much time to do the job. Bottling does not only mean putting the wine into bottles, it is a much more complex task.

Basically everything begins in december of the previous calendar year. During the coldest months of the year we leave the wines, that were previously in barrels, in stainless steel tanks to settle and to cool down in order to perform a kind of tartrate stabilization. This is critically important time; in fact refrigerating the wine and letting it get cold naturally allows the formation of crystals of tartaric acid thus avoiding such formation while the wine is in the bottle which, if allowed to happen,  would make the wine less attractive. Even the formation of crystals is not a 100% guarantee that the wine is stable as there could be the presence of colloids that prevents the deposition of crystals and subsequently more tests and treatments would have to be done. Given that Leuta is a “green” producer, we consider this  natural cooling down process sufficient without having to introduce any type of stabilization products into the wines, so occasionally some crystals might be found in our bottles.

Another task that should be performed before bottling is the clarification of the wines. Technically speaking there are many ways in which the wine can be clarified, otherwise known as “fining”. Fining is necessary because wine contains a complex mixture of molecules and particles of many different types and sizes, some are electrostatically charged negative while other positively charged. Fining products that are used in the industry include: – ox blood (which Europe has not permitted since 1987) – egg white – albumin – gelatin – isinglass or ichthyocol – casein – bentonite. At Leuta we do not use any of these, especially the fining agents from animal origin; only bentonite is sometimes used but not always and not with every wine. Bentonite is a form of clay mined in many places of the world, included USA; technically it is an aluminio-silicate clay formed from volcanic ashes whose small particles acquire a negative charge while dispersed in wine thus removing the positively charged protein molecules. Not to repeat myself but again, at Leuta, we have never used and we will never use such substances. The only thing we do to clean the wines is to move them from a tank to tank and allow the small impurities to deposit on the bottom of the tank providing us a clearer product. Before bottling we filter the wine at 3 micron which, in wine industry, is considered a very large filter.

One more task to be completed before bottling is controllong of the correct level of free sulphites – sulphur dioxide SO2 -. SO2 has an importance, even though self-destructive, it provides protective action versus oxygen. In fact when oxygen dissolves in wine, the sulphur dioxide  reacts with the oxygen before it has the chance to oxidize any components of the wine. By doing so the sulphur dioxide is itself destroyed by being converted to sulphuric acid, in a very minute quantity. In order to keep the wine always protected by oxygen further addition have to be made at every stage in the wine making/handling process to keep the SO2 level in the wine appropriate. The law in Europe – (Reg. CE No 606/2009) allow the wine producer to put up to 150 mg/l of sulfites in the red wine; at Leuta we always bottle wines with 45% less sulphites than what is allowed.

Denis Zeni

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Leuta & del Brenna wine and shine tasting – Cortona in a wine glass –

Tuesday 24th june 2014

With the support of Consorzio Strada dei Vini di Cortona and Tuscan Wine notes, Azienda Agricola Leuta and Del Brenna Jewelery & Lifestyle hosted a wine tasting at Del Brenna Show room in Cortona.

The event was a success, thank you to everyone who was able to join us!

Denis - Cortona nel bicchiere

myself in a wine glass

Denis - Cortona in a wine galss -

myself & Mariya




Mariya - Cortona in a winw glass -


Sebastian & Megan - Cortona nel bicchiere

Megan & Sebastian







Kieth & Tania - Cortona in a wine glass -

Kieth & Tania

Francis & Katerina - Cortona in a wine glass -

Frances Mayes & Katerina





Beauties - cortona in a wine glass -

some of the beauties – Lucia, Mariya, Joanne, Tania – many more are missing

Joanne - Cortona in a wine glass -

Leuta style

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Sorry for having being away so long but may and beginning of june has been very busy for me. Apart the Vin Santo I have been working hard on the vineyard and I have been traveling around the world a lot.

Vineyard: we have been continuing to working on the vines in order to keep the canopy tight up in the cages, the vine’s trunk clean and working the soil to have a good consistency. At the moment we are trimming off the top of the plants. We want the vines to work on the foliage and on the grapes rather than keeping on growing in height.  We have a special machinery that we attach the front of the track that does the job really well.

foto 1 foto 3

Cellar: I have been preparing the vines of 2012 and Sangiovese 2011 for the bottling that will take place on the 24/25 of June. I have been moving the different wines from tank to tank in order to clean them as much as I can and to add little sulfites to protect them. Even though the low allow us to go up to 120 mg/litre we manage to keep our total sulphytes level at around 60/70 mg/litre.

Traveling: I have been traveling around the world to promote my wines; I was in Rio de Janeiro, Bruxelle, Amsterdam, Wien, Rome and Prague. It has been a tough time for me but I am sure we did a good job and I am now, for the rest of the summer, focusing only on the vineyard and preparing the cellar for the next harvest.

foto 1 foto 2 foto

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Nuova specie di Paphiopedilum trovata nel Laos

From Orchideen Journal 01/02/2014 – all rights reserved –

Paphiopedilum rungsuriyamum 1

Paphiopedilum rungsuriyanum – morfologia –

Descritto da Olaf Gruss ed altri nel gennaio del 2014 sulla base di campioni trovati in Thailandia nel Garden Niwat Rungroang. Inizialmente le piante furono acquistate come Paphiopedilum candii – specie scoperta nel 2010 in Vietnam e Laos del nord.

In seguito, grazie a continue osservazioni e benché le due piante con le loro foglie marmorizzate apparissero molto simili, ci si accorse che erano due specie diverse. Già a prima vista la fioritura ha una colorazione rosso-violacea più intensa ed uno staminodio completamente diverso. Inoltre la pagina inferiore della foglia della nuova specie è chiaramente distinta. Mentre il Paph. canhii è piuttosto screziato e rosso porpora, nel nuovo tipo la pagina inferiore appare di colore grigio-verde con un’ampia venatura viola. I petali sono più corti e più larghi rispetto al Paph. canhii ed il labello è più largo.

Descrizione della pianta

– pianta litofita o terrestre con 3-5 foglie opposte, embricate alla base a racchiudere un corto gambo;

– foglie strette, ellittiche arrotondate all’apice lunghe 10/15 cm e larghe 1,5/2 cm; la superficie è decisamente scura  marmorizzata di un verde pallido; il lato inferiore è scuro marmorizzato di verde; pochi peli viola e grigi alla base della foglia;

– infiorescenza con 1 o raramente 2 fiori lunga da 5-8 cm e di 0,8 cm di diametro di colore viola scuro bordato di un bianco traslucido e con lunghi peli sporgenti;

– perianzio ovale, ottuso, piegato lungo da 1,5 a 2 mm e largo da 2 a 3 mm di colore porpora scuro, pubescente;

– ovario lungo 1,5 – 2 cm e con 1,5 – 2 mm di diametro di colore giallo verdolino con nervatura marrone, peloso biancastro;

– fiore bello di 4-5 cm di diametro, pubescente ai margini dei petali e dei sepali;

– sepalo dorsale ampio, di un ovale quasi rotondo, concavo, acuminato generalmente  piegato leggermente in avanti di 2 cm di altezza e larghezza, pubescente e biancastro al margine, all’interno viola con larghe strisce gialle venate di rosso porpora ed un bordo sottile giallo; all’esterno è viola-rosso scuro, traslucido, parzialmente giallo con venature scure;

– sinsepalo di piccole dimensioni è all’esterno viola scuro e all’interno verde giallastro di 1,8 cm di lunghezza e di 1 cm di larghezza;

– petali ovali allungati, arrotondati alla fine di 2-3 cm di lunghezza ed 1,2-2 cm di larghezza, pubescenti, di un biancastro traslucido ai margini, entrambi i lati sono di un intenso colore rosso violaceo con un ampio bordo rosso violetto su fondo biancastro;

Paphiopedilum rungsuriyamum 2

– labello con lobi laterali piegati all’interno a forma di V; di colore marrone nella parte posteriore è giallo con un bordo laterale verdastro all’apertura delle labbra; all’interno è giallo paglierino con lobi laterali venati di rosso e con macchie rosso violaceo;

– colonna lunga da 5 a 7 mm e larga da 1 a 2 mm è di colore marrone, pubescente biancastra;

– staminodio trasversale a forma di mezzaluna con due rigonfiamenti in basso e con una punta acuminata al centro, con lati curvi in avanti, è lungo 6 mm e alto 4,5 mm,  di colore rosso violaceo con un chiaro centro a forma di cuore di colore biancastro;

– pollinio ha forma sferica ed è di colore giallo.

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Paphio concolor x bellatulum

foto foto

This morning, while I was reorganizing my greenhouse, I found out that I have two Paphio (orchid) with different names but the same plant. In fact I have a conco-bellatulum and a wenshanense -found in the Wens Han area in Yunnan China-. A few weeks ago I was reading an internet review, I do not remember where honestly, and it came out that the natural primary hybrid between concolor (light yellow Brachypetalum) and bellatulum (spotted Brachypetalum) was originally named conco-bellatulum. The man-made hybrid between the same spices gives a quite different flower in terms of colors.  Thus the orchid community decided to call the natural hybrid between Paphio concolor and Paphio bellatulum a new species named Pahiopedilum wenshanense.

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