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.