South Tyrol’s wine history goes back to well beyond the Roman period. This region was part of the Roman province of Rhaetia and its wines were in high demand among the eternal city’s patricians. Now, some 2000 years later the South Tyrolean wines are more popular than ever thanks to a 20 year-long strive to maximise quality in both the vineyard and cellar. This involves drastically reducing vineyard yields in favour of quality, rigorously selecting grapes and adopting winemaking techniques which express each grape’s varietal character to the full.
Rainer Loacker chose and decided to follow these principles from the very beginning and gradually introduced biological cultivation methods, in the Schwarhof estate, which was documented as long ago as 1334, and in the nearby Kohlerhof estate. Both are in the heart of the classic St. Magdalena vineyard area. He has been producing superb wines from these vineyards since 1979. Their superlative quality is due on the one hand to the climatic conditions and soils consisting of loess, sand and clay on the steep hillsides overlooking the Bolzano valley basin, and on the other, to toil and perseverance while working consistently in harmony with nature. Lagrein and Vernatsch (Schiava) the varieties indigenous to South Tyrol are grown on the pergola trellising system, while for international varieties the wire frame “guyot” system is used. All red wines are fermented in oak and top quality wines are matured in Barrique. The excellent white wines are grown in the “Kalter Keller” estate in the Eisacktal valley. It is Rainer Loacker’s intention to leave his mark in life through hard work and endurance aimed at creating a source of happiness, satisfaction, a fondness for good company and tranquillity in a glass of wine. Schwarhof has been managed on these principles for 22 years and the impulses it releases stimulate the heart and soul and emanates perfect harmony.
Tuscany is one of Italy’s oldest and most prestigious wine-growing areas and like most Mediterranean region it is characterised by wine, olive oil and corn. The Tuscan countryside has a stimulating effect on people and has brought forth an enormous abundance of artists, scientists and winegrowers. It also attracted Rainer and Hayo Loacker.
The Loacker estate Corte Pavone extends across the Montalcino hillsides at around 500 metres altitude amid a delightful landscape consisting of vineyards, fields and thick Mediterranean scrub. The finest sites and soils are planted with carefully selected clones of Sangiovese for the production of Brunello. Aromatic plants and herbs such as rosemary, lavender and thyme grow among the vines in the Corte Pavone estate and these and many more characterise the aromas and flavours of the complex and deep ‘Brunello di Montalcino’ which comes from these vineyards. The crushed grapes are left to ferment slowly with temperature control and the wine is matured for four to five years in oak casks of differing sizes and origins. Finally the wine is matured in bottle for six months prior to release. The wine estate ‘Corte Pavone’ was owned by the Martini family from Montalcino from around 1940 to 1988 and was subsequently managed by the Swiss company ‘Terre Bindella’. The Rainer Loacker family acquired it in 1996 and since then it has been run according to Loacker principles with the motto ‘Philosophy with heart and soul.
The southern part of Tuscany bordering onto Latium also has a rich wine-growing tradition reaching back to the Etruscans and beyond. They were great agriculturalists and during the first millennium BC developed a highly advanced wine culture, trading their produce with the Greeks. This in its turn led to the introduction of Greek grape varieties into Italy. The Etruscans vanished in the mist of time while their wine culture has survived. Several years ago Rainer Loacker acquired another very promising wine estate in the heart of old Etruria in the province of Grosseto: Valdifalco. It is located between Alberese and Collecchio in the commune of Magliano in Toscana. The name meaning “Valley of the Falcon” alludes to the fact that the area was famous for falconry in medieval times. The Valdifalco estate is bordered by Via Aurelia road to the south, the ‘La Selva’ wine estate to the east, extensive woodland to the north and to the west by the two hectares of vineyard owned by our neighbours, the Fusini family. It is located in a beautiful position among rolling hills where 12 hectares of vines were planted amidst olive groves in spring 2000. A further 11 hectares of vines will be planted there in 2001. The climate here is distinctly Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and the area is protected from the sea by the hilly landscape of the “Uccellina” The soils provide an excellent prerequisites for quality wine production, being red and loamy with a high iron content, while the upper sites are characterised by marl. The vines are spur pruned on the wire frame, guyot trellising method and the rows ascend the hillsides vertically, though in places also cross them horizontally. Earth, sun, wind and sea are the real protagonists in crafting thes wines, while the human element is charactrised by principles of biological wine growing which are common to all Loacker wine estates. Depending on the characteristics of individual sites such as the microclimate, exposition, altitude and steepness of the terrain the following varieties are planted: Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Primitivo. We will have to wait until 2004 for the first Valdifalco “Morellino di Scansano” to appear, though patience is a virtue of both winegrowers and wine lovers.