We are pleased to introduce Lorenzo from the Azienda Agricola Montefioralle winery, Elle & Pear’s first Feature Artisan.
Lorenzo Sieni, whose family owns the Tuscan winery, was kind enough to answer a few of our questions on life at the winery. Recently we visited the winery and enjoyed a spectacular afternoon sipping wine and taking a tour of the grounds of the Family-Owned Winery in Tuscany. Be sure to catch a few of his words of wisdom on choosing wine and what to know about buying olive oil!
Elle & Pear: Tell us about Azienda Agricola Montefioralle? How did it originally start? What is your role?
Lorenzo: The vineyard had belonged for centuries to the parish priests of Montefioralle. However, in the 1950s, the priest in charge stopped taking care of the land. In 1964, my grandpa retired and rented the vineyard from the priest. He replanted the whole vineyard and committed to supplying the priest with two demijohns (large glass jugs with a 54 liter capacity each) of wine every year.
In the 1990s, my dad Fernando and my sister Alessia finally bought the property, and later I started working as winemaker. My job consists of overseeing the winemaking process from fermentation to bottling. My sister and my dad take care of all matters relating to farming.
Pictured above: Fernando Sieni
E&P: What do you enjoy most about working at Azienda Agricola Montefioralle?
Lorenzo: Following nature’s natural rhythms, and of course enjoying the final product.
E&P: What are the advantages and challenges of working in a family business? How does it impact work-life balance?
Lorenzo: I like the fact that there are no formalities between us and we can talk without mincing our words. Occasionally, my dad and my sister start bickering in front of the customers, but that's how it goes sometimes.
E&P: What types of wines do you produce? How much do you produce?
Lorenzo: Our production is limited to around 6000 bottles of Chianti Classico each year, about 1800 bottles of Chianti Classico Riserva, 900 bottles of IGT (a Cabernet/Merlot blend with a small proportion of Sangiovese) and around 600 bottles of Vin Santo, a dessert wine made from raisins.
E&P: What makes a Chianti a Chianti? What is a Chianti Classico? What makes the region different from other regions?
Lorenzo: What makes Chianti Classico so unique is the Sangiovese, a grape variety, which gives very different results if planted outside the historical production zone. Soil and climate are also key controlling factors in grape and wine production and don’t forget the importance of culture and a centuries old tradition. Of course mistakes were made and bad decisions were taken; however, you always learn from your mistakes.
E&P: What is unique about the wine that your family produces?
Lorenzo: Every year, our wines acquire different characteristics and we always try to intensify the characteristic we like the most. Let’s say that our wines have a slightly different personality year after year.
E&P: We were lucky enough to visit you during the harvest period. Can you tell us a little bit about how you go about harvesting the grapes? Who is involved? When does it occur during the year?
Lorenzo: The grape harvest generally takes place in early October and is always a delicate phase. Basically, we wait for the right moment to come, we spend some time testing the acid levels and the sugar levels and decide 3-4 days before. At this point, we call our friends and relatives and spend a couple of days together in the vineyard. After picking, we host a lunch or dinner to celebrate.
E&P: You also produce olive oil. Can you tell us a little about that? How did that start?
Lorenzo: There have always been olive trees on our property, olive oil production has always been as important as wine production in Tuscany.
E&P: What should one look for in purchasing olive oil?
Lorenzo: Just three simple tips: buy only extra virgin olive oil made with 100% Tuscan olives. Remember that olive oil, unlike wine, doesn't get better with age.
E&P: What are a couple of things that you enjoy pairing with a Chianti Classico?
Lorenzo: A juicy Florentine T-bone steak, grilled roasted red meats and pasta with wild game sauce.
E&P: If you were to give one piece of advice to someone looking to buy a bottle of wine for a Saturday evening dinner, what would it be?
Lorenzo: Follow your taste and never pay heed to experts or wine ratings. A wine is good if you like it. A wine is good if it matches the situation you're in. A 99-point Wine Spectator-rated bottle isn't necessarily the best wine to have with your meal.
E&P: Our thanks again to Lorenzo and his family at the Azienda Agricola Montefioralle Winery!
The Sieni Family is pictured below:
From left to right:
Back row: Elisa, Alessia, Fernando, Rosalba, Lorenzo, Luciano
The three boys in the front row: Matteo, Duccio, Sebastiano
Not pictured is Lorenzo’s wife, Manila. The picture is from 2009.
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Family photos are courtesy of the Sieni Family.