Paola Gloder, Poggio Antico (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
It’s always a great feeling when truly nice people succeed. It’s even better when they excel at what they are doing. That’s exactly the case with Paola Gloder at Poggio Antico in Montalcino, one of Italy’s Top 100 wine estates.
Paola is the daughter of Giancarlo and Nuccia Gloder, who purchased the property in 1984; Paola has manged the winery since 1987 and since 1998, her husband Alberto Montefiori has assisted her in this task. Located just outside the town proper of Montalcino, this is a 500 acre estate, of which 80 acres are planted to vines. A little less than half of these vines were planted in the 1970s and are now being replanted to fit the high density system now in place at the estate.
The Poggio Antico style of Brunello di Montalcino is one of balance among all the components, while ensuring that the wines have notable varietal character as well as a sense of place. While that may be a goal for every producer of Brunello, it is clear that some local vintners do all they can to make as ripe and as powerful a wine as possible. Wines such as these may impress some, but the truth is that they often do not communicate the local terroir. The Poggio Antico wines on the other hand are elegantly styled and harmonious with beautiful varietal purity; the delicate cherry and strawberry notes of the Sangiovese variety shine in these wines while the tannins and acidity, so vital to the longevity of these wines, are in perfect ratio.
There are two regular versions of Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino, a white label and a brown label, known as Altero (“the other.”). The differences are primarily in the oak aging, as the white label is aged for three years in large Slavonian oak casks known as grandi botti, while the Altero is matured for two years in mid-size (500 liter) French tonneaux. Both wines display excellent concentration and beautiful cherry fruit with firm, but refined tannins and are typically meant for enjoyment some 15-25 years after the vintage. The Altero has a slight sensation of modernity in its approach, but this is a very elegant and complex wine, one with ideal structure; this is not an international wine. I’ve tasted these wines for the last ten vintages and I love both of them each year; for the newly released 2007 vintage, I slightly preferred the white label bottling, while from the more classically-oriented 2006 vintage, I preferred the Altero by a slim margin. (I’ve rated one or both of the wines as outstanding in four of the last seven vintages: 2007, 2006, 2004 and 2001.)
There are also two IGT reds produced at Poggio Antico. I tasted these with Paola at a recent dinner in Montalcino at the dining room at Il Giglio; located just a few steps from the town hall, this was the site of my finest meal during my trip. Madre is a 50/50 Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend with ripe red and black fruit aromas with pleasant coffee notes; medium-full, the wine has nicely integrated oak, good acidity and a long, satisfying finish.
Paola also tasted me on the brand new red called LeMartine, a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. We tasted the 2010 vintage, which is the first release of this wine; medium-full, this has a deep ruby red/light purple color (thanks in part to the Petit Verdot) along with notes of myrtle and tar. There is a bit more oak presence in this wine, but it does not dominate; with an elegant entry on the palate and a nicely styled finish with soft tannins and good acidity, this is a flavorful, slightly forward red meant for consumption over the next 5-7 years.
Toward the end of our meal, Paola and I spoke with the group at the next table, two American couples in their mid-20s who were members of the U.S. Navy, up from their base in Napoli. They were lovers of Tuscany in general and Brunello specifically, so when they discovered that Paola was the owner of Poggio Antico, they were excited to hear her talk about her wines. Paola shared the wines and clearly made some new friends. I’ve known her for about seven years now and she’s always in a great mood, willing to tell you about her work as well as listen to your stories as well. Maybe it’s her perpetual good mood that makes the wines of Poggio Antico such standouts – it couldn’t hurt!
The wines of Poggio Antico are imported in the US by the Sorting Table.