Last Christmas, a friend gave me a bottle of Tuscan Malbec. (“You’ll find this interesting.”) Fruit-forward, faintly spiced and easy-drinking, it proved a tasty winter tonic by family-run winery Le Sorgenti.
Fed by three springs (sorgente means spring in Italian), this Bagno a Ripoli winery sits above the Arno river just five minutes from Firenze Sud. A cast iron gate leads into a wonderland, where the temperature stays a few degrees cooler than along the main via di Rosano road. It’s a magical place where owner Gabriele Ferrari produces traditional Chianti Colli Fiorentini, including Riserva, as well as more innovative labels, such as Codarossa, that unique Tuscan Malbec that set my wheels in motion, and Supertuscan Scirus, the winery’s iconic label. There’s a limited-edition Chardonnay sparkler called Calicò, just 2,000 bottles that are riddled by hand while spending 36 months on the lees, as well as the exceedingly high-quality bag in box wines (Chardonnay, Malbec, Merlot and Sangiovese, plus a Cabernet, Petit Verdot and Malbec blend), which are popular with locals and internationals alike.
“I do it for my kids. There’s no immediate return. Every farmer thinks this way for the next generation,” Gabriele Ferrari explained, as we embarked on a bumpy Jeep safari of his hard-earned estate, from the parcels above the Arno embankment planted to Malbec, Cabernet and Petit Verdot to the more recently acquired Sangiovese “Capaccio” vineyard, which stands at 370 metres above sea level and boasts a Duomo view.
“Originally the owners of this particular parcel rented the land to me. I had to earn their respect before they agreed to sell it. They knew they could trust me when I decided not to cut down that holm oak tree. We planted the vineyard around it. After all, one of the oldest holm oaks in the whole of Italy is just around the corner there’s one: it’s 400 years old!”
Everything at Le Sorgenti is conducted independently and on site: from vineyard planning to ploughing and bottling. This level of autonomy is what has enabled the winery to acquire and maintain VIVA certification, whereby representatives from the Italian ministry of agriculture visit several times a year to guarantee that the winery meets sustainable standards for the land, air, vineyard and water usage.
Le Sorgenti is not just a wine producer; it makes some of the finest olive oil in Tuscany. The 800-strong Frantoio olive tree grove by the Rimaggio roundabout is manicured—the trees are tall and top-heavy—and Gabriele pays special attention to it, painstakingly checking strips of sticky paper for evidence of the dreaded fruit fly that has so afflicted the region of late. His Laudemio, the top tier of Tuscan olive oil making, is exquisite, ethereal and necessitates nothing else except a piece of saltless bread. It’s little wonder that London IOOC International Olive Oil Competition and Bibenda have lavished medals on this speciality.
Via di Docciola 8, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli (Florence)
+39 055 696004
Cellar tours and tastings available. The wine shop is open on Wednesday and Friday 3-7pm; Saturday 9am-1pm.