Boasting bucolic views of Montepulciano, Salcheto might look like the Teletubbies set with its green setting, spacey bubbles and steel tubes, but this winery is as purposeful as it is playful.
The cantina led by Michele Manelli drives environmental standards in the Vino Nobile area—and beyond. In 2011, Salcheto was the first company in the world to certify the carbon footprint of a wine bottle, leading to the “Bordolese Toscanella”, the lightest in the world. Today’s focus is on elevating Vino Nobile by working with other producers in the area to make purebred Sangiovese wines as part of the Alliance Vinum group.
The sustainability-first approach threads throughout the winery experience. Down in the cavernous cellar, natural light is the rule as a system of twisting tubes reflects and retains the luminosity from the outside. Salcheto is entirely off the grid, working independently of the region’s electrical and water network, an endeavour that has resulted in the Best Benefit Corporation For Environment 2017 and 2018 awards and the Sustainable Winery of the Year prize from Gambero Rosso in 2014.
Out in the 58 hectares of organically farmed vineyard, planted primarily with Prugnolo Gentile, Montepulciano’s epithet for Sangiovese, oenophiles can learn about the history and culture of Vino Nobile winemaking before tasting the fruits of the land in the winemaker room. Hand harvesting, sulphite-free vinification and big barrels respect the character of the grapes in enjoyable, elegant and aromatic wines such as the earthy finesse of Nobile di Montepulciano, the energetic Salco, and youthful Rosso di Montepulciano.
The on-site kitchen has the ambience of an updated school canteen: all the ingredients hail from zero food-mile producers such as cheeses from Formaggi Cugusi Silvana, meat from Macelleria Belli, eggs from Paolo Parisi’s Podere Le Macchie and grains from Azienda Agricolo del Giorno Gerarda, a stone’s throw up the gravel road. Opt for one of the creative lunch menus that feature voluptuous soups like leek and potato, mixed salad leaves just picked from the vegetable garden, pork loin with black truffles gathered on the grounds, bruschette, and pecorino cheese drizzled with Salcheto’s very own honey.
Shake off the post-prandial ennui by renting an e-bike to power along the dirt tracks surrounding the estate, while wearing a pair of sunglasses upcycled from the winery’s worn-out barriques. (You’ll be among the first to claim them since they are being presented at this April’s Vinitaly wine trade fair in Verona.)
The fresh air, green lifestyle and superb wines might mean you’ll have to extend your stay. Once a thirteenth-century watchtower over a road to Montepulciano and the winery’s first cellar, The Salcheto Winehouse now comprises nine cozy rooms with more than a hint of Italian glamping about them. Wine boxes become design-led tables and wine-barrel hot tubs powered by natural wood heat are poised on the edge of the vineyards.
Via di Villa Bianca, 15
53045 Montepulciano (Siena)
Tel. +39 0578 799031
Visits and kitchen open daily from 10am to 6pm (including holidays)