3 QUESTIONS ~ II STOP: Buondonno. Meet Gabriele Buondonno.

With his thick Neapolitan accent, Gabriele is a jolly man full of jokes. I arrive early in the morning at his Agriturismo in Castellina in Chianti and he pours me a glass of his Rosso straight away. All his vineyards are planted in Sangiovese in the Classico area and since 1992 he has introduced new varieties such as Syrah and Merlot. “What do you want to talk about? Pizza Napoletana? Mandolino?”

And here I begin with my 3 questions.

How did you start? When did you decide that you wanted to become a winemaker?

By mistake! Jokes aside, I’m originally from Naples, the passion for wine and the countryside has been there since forever and my wife and I have been having the idea of starting a wine activity for long time. The prices were too expensive in Campania compared to Tuscany so we travelled for almost one year back and forth until we fell in love with this place and we decided to stay. And we immediately started practising biodynamic agriculture.

If you were a Buondonno wine, what wine would you be?

It depends! It changes year over year and it mainly depends on the mood. At the moment I would probably be the latest Rosé I’ve produced, a 50% Syrah and 50% Sangiovese, so perfumed, full of flavours and refreshing at the same time. I love it!

What does it mean to be a small producer?

Well, firstly it means a family-run business: me, my wife and my daughter who is taking care of the farm animals. It also means a better control on the vines and the land, embracing a more craft and niche aspect of the market. Contrary of what you might think, it also means it’s easier to sell wine abroad than in Italy! If you work with a product such as Chianti Classico, renowned all over the world, and rely on distributors, you end up selling many bottles without that much effort. It’s a good thing.

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3 QUESTIONS ~ I STOP: Montesecondo. Meet Silvio Messana.

It's March. I'm meeting Silvio in his beautiful house in the Tuscan countryside, on the outskirts of Florence and he invites me for lunch. "Oggi, spaghetti alle cime di rapa", he says. And we have it with TIN Montesecondo, long maceration Trebbiano.

And here I start with my 3 questions.

How did you start? When did you decide that you wanted to become a winemaker?

I grew up in North Africa, in Tunisia and all I can remember of my childhood are the smells of the winecellar, the must, the vinification. However, at that time I had other projects, I wanted to be a musician. I then moved to the US where I started to work in the wine industry selling wines and there I discovered a world that I didn't know. This experience abroad helped me understand what I didn't want. What style of wine I didn't want to make. The wine that you make is who you are. And this is the great difference between who makes wine to please others and who instead makes wine that reflect their personality. At the beginning of my career I made wines that weren't well understood. 

If you were a Montesecondo wine, what wine would you be?

Can I choose two of them? The TIN and the Montesecondo, the purest of my selection. I don't see treating the vines as merely as a production apparatus but as something that I have to work alongside. It's the vine that dictates, not me. Wine is conviviality, life, cheerfulness.

Why did you choose a toad as logo for Montesecondo wines? 

I'm pleased that you recognised that it's a toad and not a frog! I've always liked toads, they are slow animals but powerful. In Japan and South America they are the symbol of fertility and wealth, also it's an animal that rarely is killed - nobody eats a toad! It's a way for me to find the humour in wine and laugh at it, with it.