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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Sergio Mottura Poggio Della Costa

Italy (Orvieto)


As the story goes, once organic production took hold, the indigenous porcupine returned to the Mottura estate. Hence the spiny critter on the label. And as for the wine varietal, it too is indigenous. The rich, lively grechetto is very much at home here on the northern border of Lazio and Umbria, in the Orvieto DOC. Common throughout these regions, it is most often blended with other grapes. Yet in knowledgeable  hands grechetto on its own yields great rewards. “Sergio Mottura could be defined as the most skilled interpreter of grechetto in the world” says the guidebook to Italian wines Gambero Rosso, which backed up the pronouncement with one of its much-coveted “tre bicchiere” awards.

The Mottura estate consists of  130 hectares on gently sloping hillsides about 100 km north of Rome. The area is decidedly rural, well out of reach of industrial development. There are 50 hectares of vineyards at its core, and within that, at an altitude of 140 m, is the east-facing “Poggio della Costa” vineyard. It is seven hectares of volcanic clay, particularly suited to grechetto.

The gentleman with the kindly smile oversees vineyards that are tended with great care. The grapes are hand-picked, then crushed softly in horizontal presses. The must is cooled, hastening the separation of the foreign particles, leaving the pure juice, in which a slow, temperature-controlled fermentation takes place for about three weeks. It is matured over winter in stainless steel tanks on its own lees before bottling in early spring. The bottles are moved underground, to the caves that serve as the Mottura cellars.

The estate has been in the Mottura family since 1933, when it was the domain of Sergio’s uncle, Alessandro. Sergio assumed control when he was 20 and has brought the estate to an annual production, entirely organic, of about 14,000 cases. Chardonnay, merlot, and pinot noir share space with old world varietals, of which grechetto remains his favourite.

To again quote Gambero Rosso, “It would be hard to find a man more in love with his grapes.” And thanks to such passion and enthusiasm an old, under-appreciated varietal has found new expression. Wine drinking can only be enriched by such pursuits. We need more Sergios in the wine world.

Sergio Mottura Poggio Della Costa 2009

On the lighter side of yellow gold in the glass. A nose that immediately draws your atttention. Floral elements vie with a pleasant dose of crisp pineapple. Then again cheese, blue cheese perhaps, or parmesan.  A bit more mellow in the mouth. Citrus cutting some notions of butter. An old varietal with something fresh to say. Distinct and delightfully character driven.  $


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