This month we’ll talk you about a fairly young cellar, Cantina Montemercurio. Its owner, Marco Anselmi, has learned the secrets of winemaking from his grandfather Damo, so we can safely say that, despite its young age, this cellar can boast a solid tradition.
Damo was the one who planted, sixty years ago, the first three hectares of vineyard to produce his own Vino Nobile. When he passed away, his relatives decided to turn his activity into a family tradition: Marco, with the help of his father Maurizio, planted new vineyards until they had a total of ten hectares, keeping the three hectares planted by Damo for their quality: along with the varieties Canaiolo, Colorino, Mammolo and Sangiovese, they also have Pulcinculo grapes and a local variety of Montepulciano, to this day impossible to find elsewhere and impossible to clone.
The Cantina Montemercurio opened in 2007 and started selling wine in 2011. During the works to restore the cellar, Marco found 40 ‘caratelli’ (small barrels) of Vinsanto, made between 1986 and 1994, left there by his grandfather and then forgotten: it was like discovering a treasure, considering the value and quality of the Vinsanto produced in Valdichiana.
This cellar is located near the San Biagio temple, in a locality called Colombelle: here are the vineyards and the cellar, where the Vino Nobile is produced. Nearby, there are other poderi used as warehouses and to store the Vinsanto. The Anselmi family lives in another locality, called Totona: some rooms of their house are used to store the bottles and to welcome visitors and buyers, before a wonderful view on Valdorcia.
The name ‘Montemercurio’ comes from a local legend: according to the popular traditions, below the Fortress of Montepulciano there once was a temple to the god Mercury, and the hill on which it rose was called Mons Mercurius. This story inspired the name of the cellar, and even the wines they produce are named after objects related to the greek-roman god.
Their will to keep a link between tradition and modernity has been immediately obvious when Marco accompanied me to see the cellar, to show me the rooms where they produce the Vino Nobile. Marco, who is very young, manages the whole business, from the early phases of production to the sales. It didn’t take long before it was clear that he had made the winning choice when he decided to follow the steps of his grandfather, as the Montemercurio wine has been highly rated since the very beginning.
The farm has just a few employees: there’s Roberto, who works in the vineyards and in the cellar; Irene, who manages the office and the welcoming; the enologists, the agronomists and the seasonal workers hired for the grape harvest. Irene is the one who accompanied me to Totona, where the visitors are usually welcomed. Here, the guests are offered the chance to taste the wines with some local food specialities which, at Montemercurio, they consider a very important thing. They aim to produce a wine that encloses all the flavours of the tuscan tradition.
“Mercury was the messenger of the gods – explains Irene – and we, through our wine, want to deliver our message.”
Montemercurio produces about 40.000 bottles per year. The range of their wines is pretty wide: there’s the Rosso di Montepulciano ‘Petaso’, the Nobile di Montepulciano ‘Messaggero’, the IGT Tuscan White ‘Caduceo’, the IGT Tuscan Rosé ‘Rosato’, the IGT Tuscan Red ‘Tedicciolo’ (the nickname of a family ancestor, Anselmo Anselmi, a renaissance man of arts and culture) and a selection of Nobile di Montepulciano called ‘Damo’, made only from the grapes of the old vineyard of the grandfather, released only when the year has been great. Last but not least, there are the Grappa and the Vinsanto ‘1986’, from those famous caratelli saved from oblivion. Through the years, they have used a variety of bottle formats:
“This year we started selling 500ml bottles, to meet the needs of those who feel a whole bottle is too much. We try to listen to our customers, and to fulfill their needs, especially if it helps them getting closer to the world of wine.”
Montemercurio wines are widely distributed in Tuscany, while internationally the sales are going well in the United States (New York and New Orleans), Canada and Europe (mostly Belgium and Denmark); in Asia, their wines are distributed in Hong Kong.
The relationships with the Consorzio del Vino Nobile and the Strada del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are very important to them, and that’s why they try to attend every festival and event proposed by these institutions, also during the summer. Sometimes, Montemercurio arranges special initiatives to promote their products in a way that’s more close to the territory, more attentive to how its other specialities can match with their wines to create a genuine, exhaustive experience. The public has shown general appreciation for such creative proposals. Thanks to the touristic value of Montepulciano, the visits have increased: last October was frenzied, with two to three tours per day which, for such a tiny and peripheral cellar, are quite a lot.
According to Irene, other territories have a lot to learn from Montepulciano and the Valdichiana: we are lucky, because we can promote ourselves as a convivial community. The reputation of the Vino Nobile is constantly increasing; Montepulciano has become famous for its products and for its reception, but above all because it promotes the joy of being together, of considering the guests as family. That is a distinctive trait of the community of Montepulciano.
“This is what we want to communicate to our guests – concludes Irene – our familiarity. Montemercurio was born from a family tradition, and we want to convey the same warmth. I also feel I’m part of this family, today.”