One of my recent visits to Montepulciano brought me to Villa Sant’ Anna face to face with one of the matriarchs of Montepulciano wines, Simona Ruggeri Fabroni. Her family has owned this magnificent estate for almost 200 years, but been producing wines for bottling since the 80s. She is accompanied at her winery by her two daughters and a granddaughter making her winery a female family affair. After spending five minutes with Simona it is very clear that she has an attention to detail and air of elegance the likes of which we rarely see anymore.
She is a throwback to a golden age in time when people were more polite, had a classy elegance and businesses were built in person with a handshake. Simona carried herself like Audrey Hepburn; a simplistically elegant woman effortlessly navigating me through her winery and across her property. Her kind blue eyes, which could also be piercing, transmitted the intelligence and energy of a woman that worked in a male-dominated field and excelled. It was obvious she had cut her teeth in a time period where she was discounted and needed to work twice as hard as every other man. However, she drew strength and resolve from this adversity and it served her well to create one of the finest wineries and strongest legacies in Montepulciano.
Her several hundred year old underground cellar is magnificent and meticulous down to every last detail. As I learned more about her story, she shared that the famous USA importer Neil Rosenthal believed in her and first tasted her wine in the 80s almost on accident and told her she needed to start aging some in wood and create a fine wine. He came back a few years later and bought exactly what he had advised her to produce and that relationship continues today as he remains the exclusive USA importer.
We toured her magnificent underground cellar that is centuries old with barrels that are still brought in through a hand carved, earthen cellar which is the perfect temperature and smells of tradition and history. Her wooden boxes and labels are traditional and perfect! The cantina itself is immaculate and everything appears to be precise yet understated elegance like her.
We transitioned to the tasting room where it is like stepping inside her mind, full of memories of her travels around the globe selling her wines. It appears she has been everywhere and based upon the artifacts and art pieces of her collection from every country she has visited, she remembers every detail.
We began to taste her wines which I knew would be exactly like her…precise and elegant with such clarity. I had the pleasure of tasting her Chianti, her Rosso di Montepulciano and her Nobile di Montepulciano which were all elegant, full of cherries/fruit, tannin, acidity and precision. It was obvious to me that these are serious wines capable of aging and would be perfect on your dinner plate with steaks, pastas with red sauces and more. ( The 2016 will be a vintage for the ages so I would be sure to collect this if you can!)
Did I also mention that she has one of the oldest and largest collections of Vin Santo, the traditional passito offered in Tuscany but hailing from Montepulciano. Also Simona’s wine is the authentic Vin Santo made in the proper way of giving time to allow to develop.
Thank you Simona for treating me like royalty and showing me your passion, dedication to your craft and attention to details. Your legacy will be secure as you surely have cemented yourself as one of the great in Montepulciano. You have made memories for a lifetime for me and many others around the world I am sure.
While driving across the Tuscan countryside in pursuit of the best food and wine that I could find in this fabled land I took hold in Montepulciano and Montalcino. One represents the older city with more of an esteemed cultural wealth and stronger line of nobility. (Montepulciano) However the wines of Montalcino (Brunello) have skyrocketed in price over the last 20 years in comparison to the wines of Montepulciano which are only 35 minutes away. It was my mission to find the best expressions of Sangiovese in the wines of Montepulciano.