Le Coste is a dream in the making. Gianmarco Antonuzi and Clémentine Bouvéron are a husband-and-wife team of Le Coste. After being disillusioned as a lawyer in Rome and through a passage of fate, Gianmarco found himself at a great family domain in Alsace, France. Meanwhile, Clémentine, after her studies at an oenology school in her native France, was summoned to an internship at the same domain in Alsace. That is where Gianmarco and Clémentine were destined to fall in love. It was 2001. Having met them, I cannot imagine Le Coste without the two together.
Gradoli is about two-hour drive north of Rome. Gianmarco had family ties to Gradoli as his grandfather had home in the village and Gianmarco spent much of his childhood summers there. In 2004, Gianmarco and Clémentine started planting a dizzying array of indigenous varietals: Procanico, Malvasia, Vermentino, Aleatico, Greghetto Ciliegiolo, Canaiolo, Colorino, Vaiano Procanico, Moscato, Malvasia, Ansonico, Verdello, Greco, Roscetto, Petino and Romanesco. The plantings are amazing 10,000 vines per hectare (average in the region is about 4,000) and each vine is trained Albarello, meaning each vine is supported by a wooden stick. The high density forces the vine roots to go deep; the Albarello keeps the yields in check; and the resulting wines are complex. No one plants 10,ooo vines per hectare anymore. There is no modern tracker that can fit such density planting. It is too much work. I only read about such vine planting density in Burgundy and Champagne in a historical wine text.
The manual labour that goes into that density of vines on Albarello is back-breaking. As if that was not quite enough, all vines are selection massale and some are franc de pied (ungrafted vines). The vines are farmed naturally. The intention behind all this traditional work is to grow the vines that will translate the land and its surroundings, giving their wines depth. The surface has now grown to 14 hectares but only 7 hectares are planted to keep diversity. There are chestnut and olive trees that dot the landscape. Gianmarco and Clémentine also rent and farm small vineyards in the village.
From the Le Coste cru of the ungrafted vines planted to 10,000 vines per hectare on an Alberllo training system. Mostly from Procanico, Vermentino and Malvasia with tiny additions of local varieties. This wine sees skin contact. The grapes are gently pressed and aged in old botti for about a year with some additional bottle aging.
This is made from Greghetto (the local varietal known as Sangiovese elsewhere) with a splash of Ciliegiolo, Cannaiolo and Vaiano. This is a mixture of young and old vines from various parcels with all different expositions, altitudes and soils. The wine spends about a year in chestnut barrels.
The is made from 100% Greghetto. This wine is from a single vineyard and vines are about fifty years old. More elegant and minerally then the Rosso above. The élevage is in neutral barrels and is about eighteen months before bottling.
A blend of Procanico and Malvasia from the vines grown on volcanic soils. Hard-harvested grapes go through spontaneous fermentation with ambient yeasts – like all of Le Coste wines. This wine sees skin contact for a few days. The wine rests in extremely cold cellar for about a year, followed by some additional bottling age before being released.
This is made mostly from Greghetto with a splash of Syrah and other varietals. In short then, this is Clémentine (French) and Gianmarco (Italian) in a bottle.
This is 100% Aleatico. The vines are about 40 years old. The wine is aged for about two years in neutral 500 litre barrels, followed by another year in bottles. I do not know who does this long élevage anymore. Beautiful fragrance and silky texture are hallmarks of this unique wine.
A selection of 100% Procanico from the best parcels of Le Coste, Le Chiesa and Terrazzo. The grapes are harvested when they turn pink, which gives this wine its natural hue. This wine sees skin contact. This wine goes through incredible élevage. The wine is macerated about four weeks and is aged in neutral 500 litre barrels for two years before bottling. Then, the wine is aged in bottles for additional three years to reach harmony and complexity before release.
This frizzante wine is made from Greghetto, Procanicao and Aleatico in direct press. The wine finishes fermentation in the bottle following the traditional ancestral method and it is disgorged after one year. The patience of one year on its lees really help to develop body and aroma. This frizzante rosato has some structure but it goes down easily.
This refreshing red frizzante is made with Greghetto and Merlot that are macerated for about a week. Then, the wine finishes its fermentation in the bottle – i.e. the traditional ancestral method. The wine is disgorged a year later.