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Ivan Giuliani: Back to roots... or New idea of Supertuscan

11.03.2010 the middle of 90ies, during the boom of Merlot and Cabernet, I was really isolated and alone. Now, after 15 years, my visionary idea became a contemporary one...

Terenzuola is a progressive Tuscan winery from Massa Carrara province, which is located on the North of coastal part of Tuscany. Thanks to the way chosen by owner Ívan Giuliani the estate has got own style starting from winegrowing and finishing with the way of approaching the market and the customer.

Please visit introduction page of Terenzuola here.

Read about Ivan's choice here.

Q&A with Ivan Giuliani

Q01: Hello Ívan! At first please tell us where were you born and raised?
A01: Hello everybody! I was born in Piedmont, in Novara and I remained there until 21 years old. My home was in Stresa just in front of the beautiful Lake Maggiore.

Q02: What did your parents want you to be and eventually what kind of education did you have?
A02: I studied at scientific lyceum and then I started to follow economy at the University of Pavia for two years, but at that time for my parents would be the best if my professional figure was a doctor of medicine.

Q03: How did it happen that you returned to the place where you grandfather planted vineyards and made wine?
A03: Just in 1993 my uncle Carlo, who followed the little estate had a heart attack and he had to change his life stopping work at his winery. So I decided to transfer my university from Pavia to Pisa, and my home from Stresa to Fosdinovo, starting to help my uncle. At that time my parents didn’t like my idea of moving to the coast at all.

Q04: What had happened first: you started to appreciate wine as wine-drinker or you started to be involved into wine-making of your family? In any case, did one thing influence another?
A04: I started with the involving in the little estate of my family (little because the production was mostly for family needs) because I was the ultimate son and nephew. So I decided that I had to give a help to my family, probably in part-time, probably as a hobby, or maybe starting to understand if, at the end of the University, will be my job. Would be fair to say, that I had no particular interest in wine before that. Yes, my new job influenced my appreciation of wine as I started to try many different wines by that time.

Q05: Why did you choose the way of planting obscure indigenous varieties, preferring them to more propagated and obvious Sangiovese, for instance? Did somebody advice you on that or it was made fully on your own?
A05: Before I start something new, in everything I do, I need, I want and I have to understand it first. So in the same case starting to follow my principles, I entered to the courses of Italian Sommelier for two years. At that time I also started to read an enormous amounts of various literature on viticulture and winemaking. During that time I visited cellars in Italy and Europe every week-end and in 1995 I decided to plant my first vineyard with important density plantation, to change the classic maturation and vinification of Vermentino, and also to cut off the Sangiovese because in Lunigiana area this variety doesn’t really like the sea-coast and the temperature excursion between day and night. Everyone was telling me that I am crazy, out of mind…
Ivan is joking, that he should sell his tractor and buy a normal car instead :-) Vermentino grape in Terenzuola vineyards Canaiolo Nero or "Uva Merla"
Q06: What kind of indigenous varieties do you plant and vinify now? What else interesting you can tell about dealing with this kind of native wine-grapes?
A06: Actually in vineyards and in the cellar I work with Vermentino and Bosco as white varieties and Canaiolo nero, Vermentino Nero and Colorino for the red ones. To deal with the local varieties, obviously, is perfect because they adapted themselves to the local soil and climate, and they survive very well. Is the same for the Merlot in Pomerol and the Chardonnay in Chablis. They are, with the real ripeness, balanced between alcohol, ph level and acidity. The main condition is that you have to work with the respect to the nature and low yields.

Q07: Are you still looking for some other forgotten varieties in terms of viticultural interest? Do you plan to add some other ancient variety to your project?
A07: Another real interesting variety is the Barsaglina, or how we call it locally Massaretta, and I could try to do something with it, probably in the Massa’s hills where it is originated from. To be more clear about this grape I can say that it is like Syrah for me, as they are very similar by main characteristics.

Q08: Your idea of New Super Tuscan is quite interesting and rather ambitious! Do you share it with other winemakers or wine enthusiasts and what kind of feedback do you mostly have?
A08: In the middle of 90ies, during the boom of Merlot and Cabernet, I was really isolated and alone. Now, after 15 years, my visionary idea became a contemporary one. Because everywhere people want to taste and to drink something which was made in the place where they are now; the same for the food, the territory, the history, the traditions and the resources. I am not alone now, you can see it by getting to know some other developing and experimenting estates.

Q09: How long do you think it will take to see the idea of New Super Tuscan materialized?
A09: I think that in few years lots of things will change. Estates are grafting Vermentino on Petit Verdot and Tannat, estates are blending Sangiovese with Barsaglina instead of Merlot, estates are starting to plant Canaiolo Nero, Mammolo, Foglia Tonda and Pugnitello. Yes, it’s much simpler for an estate to sell international varieties instead of anonymous local wine-grapes, but should be done the other way around in order to live in harmony with your native territory.
Universities have to study the vineyards, then also in the cellars during vinification and aging, how producers could work with native varieties better and better. Another subject of studies could be the way of good communication between producers and the market, in other words, for better marketing of theirs local varieties.
I am happy to say that this kind of things are going on. For instance, Terenzuola has co-operation with the university of Florence in terms of research of cultivation and vinification of Uva Merla (Cannaiolo Nero).

Q10: Are you happy today with choice you made 15 years ago?
A10: Yes, I’m a fighter in this sense. And also even if I would never be the best for the press, for the big winemakers and wine enthusiasts, I’m still very proud about what I am doing now, what I study for my area. Thanks to my family, my staff and people that believe in me. Not always the straight line is the shortest!

Q11: What about your whites? Do you think some other variety could have the same bright prospect as Vermentino for you, and for Colli di Luni area in general?
A11: I think that Vermentino is the best for this area, but there is a still a lot to study and to understand as during recent years we had very different conditions of local nature.

Q12: What kind wine do you prefer to drink every day and what is your favourite "special occasion" wine?
A12: I could write an entire page, because I drink wines from all the world and I like very much lots of these. For the occasion perhaps I would take sweet Tocaij or Banyuls, to relax myself a Champagne. For every day I chose Dolcetto form Piedmont for the red and, probably, Vermentino for the white.

Q13: What was the most unusual wine have you ever had in your life? What were your impressions?
A13: Some wines from the Greece. During the tasting I was thinking that probably this kind of wine people use to make some centuries ago.

Q14: If you are going to have a dinner with a friend coming outsides Tuscany (may be even outsides Italy), what would be the wine you would like to serve to make him feel the character of Tuscan coast?
A14: I think that the Tuscan coast has to find the way of giving clear and eloquent characters. Actually I’m curios to try nonexistent up to recent times blend of Vermentino and Ansonica. Final part of the meals will be accompanied by Aleatico from Elba island.

Q15: Thank you for an interview Ivan!
A15: Thanks everybody! And happy tasting of Costa Toscana wines!

Show me Terenzuola wines

Show me Vermentino/Ansonica blends

Show me Aleatico from Elba island