Tolaini (Italy)

Today Tuscany is home to the Tolaini Estate, a winery that combines these ancient elements with modern winemaking. The symbol "” is taken from the ancient alphabet of the Etruscans and is equivalent to our modern letter "T”. To honor the connection of the ancient with the modern, the symbol "” has been chosen to represent the Tolaini name. The symbol "” is carved into a 3-meter high stone quarried from the vineyard and is proudly placed at the gate of the Estate.

The balance of the grapes, after going through the same strict manual selection process on the sorting table, are  carefully de-stemmed, cooled to 5C-10C (41F - 50F) and added whole to each tank for a 7-day cold soak before selected yeast strains are added to initiate fermentation. Natural yeasts are used whenever possible. Vinification at Tolaini is done in 26 stainless steel temperature-controlled tanks with a two chamber system. Fermentations run approximately 7 to 10 days at a maximum temperature of 28C-30C (82F - 86F). To extract further flavor and structure, wine and grape solids macerate for an additional 10-15 days before the wine is racked to barrel to complete malolactic fermentation. All primary fermentations undergo manual punch-downs to extract skins and pips without extracting unwanted bitterness. The two-chamber configuration allows for gentle gravity- flow rack- and -return that optimizes color and flavor extraction. The best grapes from each harvest are fermented in open-top fermenters made of French Allier oak (12 units of 4500 liter capacity), a time-proven touch that increases the complexity in the wines. The generous array of tank sizes allows for individual parcels of grapes to be fermented and stored separately. These batches are kept apart through subsequent barrel aging in new French oak before blending.

Tolaini wines are gently matured in the barriccaia, a barrel storage cellar with three underground tunnels radiating from a central point. The cellar is one of the Estate's distinctive features, both for its structure and for the sensitivity devoted to its installation during the renovation of the original historic building. The barriccaia can house up to 1200 barriques (225 liter) in optimal temperature and humidity conditions. Each vintage, new barriques of Allier and Troncais oak are purchased from several French coopers. Most have medium to medium-plus toast but a small portion are given a dark toast - a mix that best suits the character of Tolaini wines. Although certain grapes may be destined for the Estate's top wine Picconero right from harvest, the final blending decisions are made only after 16-18 months barrel aging.

Pier Luigi designed, built and patented a versatile tractor which facilitates manual work in the vineyards. The workers are 30-40% more efficient in manual tasks vital to caring for a a high density planted vineyard: No more strenuous bending or kneeling that was traditionally necessary. Tolaini maintains that treating his employees well increases their well-being and productivity as well as keeps these trained workers at Tolaini. He also provides each vineyard worker and their family an apartment at the winery.

The Tolaini team works closely with the faculty of Agronomy at the University of Florence in managing the right amount of water being supplied to the vines. A special new machine has been designed that registers the water in the leaves which allows close monitoring of the physiological state of the plants. This allows the Tolaini agronomists to maintain the plants in a state of light hydric stress. This "stressed” state allows the plant to concentrate its energies on the maturation of the fruit and not on growing vegetation. This new technology allows us to maintain a key point of stress in the plants, so they never reach a crisis hydric state nor suffer from overwatering and therefore grow at optimum levels at all times, producing exceptional fruit.

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