October 29, 2010 Fattoria di Gratena
Fattoria di Gratena Siro
gratena (95%), merlot
A bottle of wine takes on particular qualities when it rests on a river bed containing the remains of 305 million-year-old trees, what are referred to as “the oldest known upland tree fossils in the world.” That would be along Blanche Brook, not far from where I grew up in Newfoundland. Rather unique.
As is this red wine. It is made from a grape unique to Fattoria di Gratena — a rediscovered indigenous varietal. After three years of study at the University of Milan no matching DNA could be found, and just recently the grape was officially given the name “gratena.” Siro is the only wine made from it anywhere in the world.
Fattoria di Gratena is located 400 metres above sea level, in beautiful countryside about 10 kilometres from the city of Arezzo, the city famous for its frescoes “The Legend of the True Cross” by Piero della Francesca. Siena and Florence are not far away. The estate’s wine heritage goes all the way back to a group of 13th-century monks. In 1968 it was purchased by the Sieni family, and today ROSANNA and PAUL SIENI run the 16 hectares under vine. The estate is equally well known for its production of olive oil, with 1600 trees harvested. It is also part of Italy’s “Agriturismo” network, providing accommodation for tourists wishing to experience life on a working (and in this case, organic) farm. (I could find no photo of the owners, but their guest pool looks rather inviting.)
As a wine region of Tuscany, Arezzo is certainly lesser known and appreciated than the regions (such as Chianti Classico and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano) which surround it. Arezzo wines, it has been said, display “a marked individuality, standing in the wings waiting to be discovered.” Many fall under Italy’s relatively recent IGT — Indicazione Geografica Tipica — classification. (Like France’s ‘Vin de Pays’, it falls outside the more prestigious classifications, but may well include very good wines typical of the region.) They often offer great value. With production of only 7,000 bottles a year of the exclusive gratena, SIRO sits in a class by itself.
Fattoria di Gratena Siro 2004
It’s a deep scarlet-purple, with modest herbaceous/black fruit aromas. Curious in the mouth, more tannic than expected, but beneath that a rich mix of balsamic/vegetal tartness and fruit concentrate. A wine with personality. Atypical. Age-worthy. $$