David Casini is the winemaker for Tenuta Poggio Rosso
David Casini is the winemaker for Tenuta Poggio Rosso

B eing invited to a private tasting is an enjoyable benefit from having started BottleReport.com. It’s especially enjoyable when you try wines that no one in the area has tried before…. unless, in this case, you have traveled to the Western Mediterranean coast of Italy where the wines we tasted are produced.

Another benefit is meeting winemakers at the cutting edge of winemaking techniques in a country known for Old World traditions.

David Casini is the winemaker for Tenuta Poggio Rosso is such a person living on this “new” cutting edge. And living is a good way to describe it as he maintains the vines, crafts the wines, bottles the wines and is responsible for selling and marketing the wine. That might not seem that unusual when talking to vintners in the U.S. but in Italy that’s a big change.

Winemaking has been changing in the Tuscan coastal wine region between Rome and Genoa since the 1970s. New young vineyards are eschewing the mass production methods found in most of Italy, making handcrafted wines and welcoming the public to not only enjoy their wines but their vineyards.

David was in town with Carlotta and Samuel Pignato, who live in Italy and are adding the U.S. to their Tuscan Vineyard Imports portfolio. They should have intimate knowledge of wines of the Tuscany region as they have been conducting wine tours there for many years through their Tuscan Vineyard Tours business. They are currently licensed in North Carolina and are dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s to expand their import business to Georgia.

Tenuta Poggio Rosso is located in an area of the coast that isn’t quite a peninsula but does have the Mediterranean to the West and South. You could describe it as the top lace on Italy’s boot.

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They are not far from the Bulgari Vineyard. That name might be familiar. It is from the same family as the famous watch makers. They also are using New World methods and opening their vineyards to visitors.

The Pignatos invited local restauranteurs and wine shop owners to sample some of the wines from 17 wineries they represent, focusing on the four wines from Tenuta Poggio Rosso and one from Macchion dei Lupi. Their featured guest was David, who started with Tenuta Poggio Rosso in June of 2011.

The Poggio Rosso website describes the area as “a special zone [that] combines the vicinity of the sea, exposure to the wind and a climate that allows the vines to thrive and produce absolutely unique grapes.


To put this wealth of natural features to the best possible use, a single philosophy has been applied: enhance Nature’s bounty by using the latest tools in the field of enology to produce wines that represent a mix of history and tradition, interpreted from a modern perspective by men tied to the land by an ancestral love.”


[quote]To put this wealth of natural features to the best possible use, a single philosophy has been applied: enhance Nature’s bounty by using the latest tools in the field of enology to produce wines that represent a mix of history and tradition, interpreted from a modern perspective by men tied to the land by an ancestral love. [/quote]


David is a young winemaker which is fitting considering the “youth” of the wines being produced in this part of Tuscany. It might be located in the Old World but it has not been known until recently as a producer of great wines. That changed in the 70’s and 80’s, according to Carlotta, when new wineries started popping up and producing wines that didn’t follow the old traditional ways of using only Italian grapes and using mass production methods. Young winemakers starting using grapes from France such as Viogner, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and instead of mass production, the handcrafted methods of New World wines were used.

This vineyard is only 3 acres in size but produces approximately 5,000 bottles of each of their 4 wines (the Viognier is a bit smaller at about 3,000 bottles).

David uncorks one of the reds

The Poggio Rosso Vineyard itself is a very young vineyard having started in 2002 when the Monelli family bought the run down agricultural estate and started restoring it.

The winery gets its name from the red soil that contains iron deposits that literally are rust colored. Poggio means “hill” so the name translates as Red Hill. The wines get their names from Etruscan deities or historical figures. The Etruscans were the pre-Roman occupants of the land.

The first grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon, were planted in 2003, followed by Sangiovese in 2004 then the white grapes, Viognier and Vermentino in 2006. So the Velthune Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 they presented is from vines that were only 3-years-old.


J ust because it’s barely 10 years old doesn’t mean they have ignored the traditions or history of the region. Two traditional Italian Sangiovese and Vermentino grapes are used. They also use their Etruscan roots, more than 2,000 years old, to name and brand their wines.

To quote their website and brochures: “The stylized palm frond that Poggio Rosso has adopted as the image for its wines seeks to express its deep connection with the land and recall that land’s traditions, all while communicating our passion for defending the environment in and around the estate.

The design comes from the decorations found on pottery recovered from the area of Piombino and now conserved in Populonia’s archeological park, a sort of “trademark” that was put on the terracotta vessels once produced in the region.

The stamp appears to be a shell or a palm, but nothing prevents you from seeing represented of a sunset over the nearby promontory and a symbol of the estate’s delicate beauty, a quality to which the Monellis’ wines also aspire.

This graphic motif from the past, with its strikingly modern and evocative line, expresses the hopes and ambitions of a company that is taking back its region’s history and embarking upon a future that joins a love of tradition with a promise to grow and develop its land and its products.”

According to Carlotta and David visitors are not the norm for vineyards in Italy. You can’t show up at a vineyard for a tasting or to purchase wines. Poggio Rosso is one of the vineyards changing that attitude. David says that opening the vineyard to guests has increased their sales significantly last year, selling 7,000 bottles to tourists alone.


Carlotta Pignato pours some Phylika

When asked which wine David is most proud of he quickly says “the Veive Viognier.” because “it is the wine we want to produce.” It’s where they want it to be. He’s proud of the reds but with being such young vines it will take a while to get them to where they want to be. But after tasting the wines they are off to a good start.

The Veive Viognier is a very nice wine. To this taster it is not an Old World wine. Its flavors are bright and fresh. There isn’t any minerality to distract from the grapes. The Tages and Velthune are inviting to pair with a nice steak. These young wines should only improve with age. And with any luck we will all be tasting these wines in the near future.

Here are the wines presented (click to see more):

  1. Phylika 2010
  2. Veive 2010
  3. Tages 2006
  4. Velthune 2006
  5. Profeta Merlot 2009

Here are the detailed wine notes:



Phylika 2010
Phylika implies affectionate, delightful, loveable, well inclined. A fragment of a black ceramic painted cup discovered on the acropolis of Populonia preserves a scrawl which reads the name of a slave of Greek origin. Phylika placed flowers, fruit and scents in the cup to offer the divinity to whom she was devoted.

Her name refers to Venus and to the sacred dedication carried out by the slaves in some aphrodisiac sanctuaries in the Mediterranean. Poggio Rosso has brought this mental image of her caressing her wine while young and fresh, seductive aromas of rich white, bright color and a taste intriguing and enjoyable.

Color: Straw Yellow with golden
Aroma: Citrus and apricot, with hints of herbs
Taste: Fresh entry, mineral notes, pleasantly fruity, full-bodied. Balanced final returns, mineral and aromatic.

Veive 2010
Veive, god of the Etruscan Pantheon, is pictured as a youth wearing a laurel wreath and holding arrows in his hands. A goat stands at his side, unaware, representing the instant that precedes the action, the dash with which the terrible god of Revenge would shoot his arrows. Poggio Rosso has chosen to give his name to its most unexpected wine, to issue a challenge with a white wine that redesigns the style of a territory and surprises with sudden sensations that strike you at the very first taste.


Tages 2006
The young boy, son of Mother Earth, was the Etruscan divinity who synthesized in himself the purity of youth and the experience of the mature man. Born out of a drawn track on a plowed field, he lived long enough to teach the art of predicting the future to the Etruscans to create a harmony with nature and to understand the desires of the gods. Poggio Rosso has named its youngest wine in this way as it is able to express the specific qualities of its territorial origins in the most direct and harmonic way. This is a fresh tasting wine which seduces with its immediacy and the intensity of its flavors and by its rich and harmonic taste.

Color: full ruby red
Aroma: rich and intense, with flavors of red berries and hints of flowers and oak.
Fragrance: enfolding with sweet tannins, enjoys a long and clean finish.
Grapes: 50% Sangiovese, 50% Merlot


Velthune 2006
The multiform Velthune has an Etruscan origin and means the divinity representing the changes in seasons and the arrival of the maturation of the fruit. It was considered the supreme God on earth as it was capable of changing its shape and transform itself into anything. Poggio Rosso has decided to give this name to its most structured and complex wine, which manages to transform and enrich itself through the years and modify its flavors, which continue to evolve into pure and elegant qualities. It has a warm and enveloping nature yet remains sober and retains its classical style. Its qualities express the flavours and emotions offered by its territory.

Color: intense ruby red.
Aroma: rich and intense, with a hint of ripe fruits, immediately accompanied by stronger territorial flavors of aromatic herbs, liquorice root and oak.
Fragrance: a fresh start, enfolding body, mature and austere tannin texture with continuing nose-palate harmony.
Grapes: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Profeta Merlot 2009
Winery: Macchion dei Lupi


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