Its been over twenty years, yet every time I approach the gently rolling land of Colle degli Angeli (“Angels Hill”) and distinguish its unique outline from afar, the thrill of it never fails – a feeling of sheer joy that is just impossible to describe. You have to see to believe this Tuscan Eden. And then youll never want to leave it.
The farm had previously been run by Concetta and her husband Piero: true country folk from another era, one that survives in the nostalgic tales of our grandfathers. The couple lovingly tended the soil, living solely on its produce and bartering eggs, goats milk and fruit in exchange for what they could not themselves produce. In the 1980s, they still lived in the old farmhouse, with no heating but that provided by the large fireplace.
Piero and Concetta stayed on. They could not have left the land that was their raison dêtre, or abandoned their chickens and rabbits and goats. In fact, the more I saw of the couple, the stronger I felt to be my own ancestral bonds and awakened affection for the soil – where my familys roots had previously lain dormant.
Hence my wish to take up the challenge: making wine in the elite winemaking area.
Some of my friends were puzzled by my endless journeys from Monza to Montalcino and back, in the midst of my busy career in quite another field. “Attilio, why on earth do you do it?” – they would ask me as I did my best to juggle my various commitments: a growing family and my entrepreneurial activity near Milan, with its tight deadlines and ironclad responsibilities. I was exhausted yet tireless, tense yet determined to pursue that dream I saw gradually taking shape and concreteness. There was no rational response to my friends question, and there still isnt.
What drives me on is as powerful as it is irrational: my PASSION for Colle degli Angeli.
I was an outsider in Montalcino, commuting from Lombardy whenever possible and dealing with the demanding details and decisions of a new winery in an old, star-studded region. There were ups and downs and the occasional disappointment, but my enthusiasm and devotion never wavered – thats what passion is like, after all. There are some bad moments when you know youre getting oh so close to your ideal and it still escapes you, but the good moments are like walking where angels tread! Thats exactly how I felt at “Angels Hill” when our very first wine was bottled.
Wed never have got there if it hadnt been for the friendship and advice of an old winemaking family – the Pacentis – whose estate borders on ours, and who helped us get started; and subsequently, the collaboration of another irreplaceable friend, “our man in Montalcino”, Carlo Corsi; not to mention our young and dynamic consultant oenologist, Federico Donini.