September is a sublime month to visit Castello di Potentino, and unusually there’s a taste of Southern Spain in the offing.
Featuring thought-provoking photography by Roberto Benzi, Paolo Mazzo and Carlos Nuñez Delgado-Roig, on September 7 the Andalucía exhibition will be presented by the castle’s owner Charlotte Horton and horse breeder Mirko Nesurini, with Maria Silvana Pavan on the piano. The free show will run until December 31 (10.30am-12.30pm, 3-6pm; closed Mondays).
The harvest is on the horizon and Castello di Potentino is no exception. Join Emily O’Hare (Decanter, The Florentine and former head sommelier and wine buyer at London’s The River Café) for the Winemaking and Level Two WSET course. This six-day residential course, running September 15 to 22, will involve hands-on grape picking and fruit pressing—even using the Etruscan wine stones to squeeze out the juice by foot—before studying for the sought-after international wine knowledge qualification. Chablis, Chateauneuf du Pape, Barolo, Rioja and many more tastings are on the table, alongside the castle’s own ethereal wines, plus plenty of opportunities to explore the local region.
See www.potentino.com for further details and to sign up.
While visiting the castle, marvel at the painstaking restoration project accomplished by the estate’s owners. Dating to 1042, when the stronghold was the property of a certain Count Pietrone or Pepone, the Greene family acquired Potentino in 2000.
“The castle was a complete wreck when we found it,” explains Charlotte Horton. “The roofs were falling in, the doors and windows were in bits and pieces, rooms full of bottles and old mattresses. It took our team at least two weeks to clear it out before we could even start working out how much there was to do. There was no plumbing or electricity, so bathrooms were quite a novelty for the building. The loo we found was a medieval hole with a long drop to a cesspit at the bottom of the tower!”
Room by room, the family renovated the eleventh-century fortress, saving the colours and designs they unearthed along the way. Only local, traditional natural materials were used, such as terracotta, peperino (volcanic stone), chestnut wood, earth pigments and oxides for colour and whitewash.
Old beams were cut and used to face newly constructed doors. Coach bolts were secured instead of modern screws. Rusty hinges were a must, not shiny brass or chrome.
Sip wine, gaze at the exhibition, learn something: Castello di Potentino won’t let you leave until the ancient edifice has enthralled you by its Etruscan essence.