The team speaks to CasalFarneto
Friday 22 September 2023
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Strikingly modern, styled like the hangout of a film star or Bond Villain, CasalFarneto’s production winery is carved into a sheer hillside in Serra de’ Conti, 320 meters above sea level. Its inner workings extend beneath the hill itself, giving shelter from both heat and cold, as the exceptional wines made here complete their journey to maturity.
It’s a far cry from the winery’s founding in 1995, when four friends decided to renew a house with some run-down vineyards. Their backbreaking labour resulted in three superb, complex wines, all based on their experimentation with the signature local grape variety, Verdicchio.
After ten years, two of the original four decided they wanted to leave the business, but rather than selling their share to the remaining pair, all four decided to sell together, to the Togni Group, which at the time produced sparkling wines, water and beer. One of the original four—Danilo Solustri, who had led on the winemaking itself—decided to stay on as ‘fattore’, and continues to ensure continuity in both style and quality of its wines.
“The Konya group implemented a lot of changes when it took over,” says head of international sales Ulisse Patalocchi. “It built this beautiful underground winery, with modern technology and what is still a relatively big production capacity for Le Marche. Little by little, it introduced quality improvements, invested in winemaking, planted more vineyards of Verdicchio, and more vineyards were rented elsewhere to expand the production to other autochthonous grape varieties, such as the Lacrima, Pecorino and Passerina.
“So, having set out with those three Verdicchios in 1995, we now have 11 different ways for working just with Verdicchio, using concrete, steel, barriques, amphoras… we do everything. We also have another 19 wines from other autocthonous grapes, giving us 30 in total.”
Today, the property counts 60 hectares in total, of which 35 are under vine, with a roughly 80:20 split of white to red varieties. With the expansion of its production, CasalFarneto sought the consultancy of one of the most important winemakers in Italy, Franco Bernabei (father of the world famous Tuscan wine Flaccianello). Bernabei brought in a significant step up in quality, and his vast experience allowed the winery to push its signature experimentation with Verdicchio to new levels.
When this hugely successful collaboration had run its course in 2018, Bernabei was succeeded by Paolo Togni, who after 30 years leading the Togni Group decided to focus solely on the management of CasalFarneto. In 2021, he was joined by the renowned winemaker and agronomist Stefano Chioccioli.
“Working with Stefano represents a new era for CasalFarneto,” continues Ulisse. “As a specialist in sustainable and organic farming, he’s steering us onto a whole new path. We’ve added an orange wine, and we are renewing also our top red wines to be a little richer, fruitier and softer on the tannic side. It’s a very exciting time.”
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