La Braccesca vineyards
Marchesi Antinori first purchased land on the Tenuta Braccesca estate back in 1990. The land is a few kilometres from Montepulciano in south-east Tuscany, near the border with Umbria. The surface area of about 380 hectares is divided into two parts: the main part of 294 hectares (of which 151 are at present planted with vineyards) is between the towns of Montepulciano and Cortona. The second, 87 hectares almost entirely planted with vineyards, is situated between three of the best-known subzones for the production of great red Montepulciano wines: Cervognano, Gracciano and Santa Pia. The La Braccesca estate covers a total of 238 hectares.
Since the early Nineties new vineyards have been planted as the basis for making great wines. Classic varieties have been planted, like Prugnolo Gentile (a local variety of Sangiovese) and Canaiolo Nero, as well as non-native varieties like Merlot and Syrah, which have found an ideal environment in the foothills of Cortona.
The 151 hectares of vineyards between Montepulciano and Cortona are about 280-300m above sea level. The soil here is of medium texture with a good quantity of clay and silt. Nearer Cortona where the soil is stonier, the drop irrigation system gives the plants the extra water they need. The 87 hectares of vineyards at Cervognano, Gracciano and Santa Pia are above seal level on (red) clayey soil with plenty of stones.
La Braccesca came out in 1993 with the 1990 vintage of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG and Sabazio Vino Rosso di Montepulciano 1992 and in 1999 with Merlot 1996. Furthermore, in 2004 the new Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCg Vigneto Santa Pia came out with 2001 vintage. Added to these are the Bramasole Cortona DOC Syrah 2000, presented in 2003 and the new Achelo Cortona DOC Syrah 2005, presented in 2006.
The Antinori family began to invest in this area, one of the most interesting in Tuscany and indeed in Italy, in the early Nineties, when Vino Nobile di Montepulciano had just started its "Second Renaissance". However Montepulciano wines were actually already famous long before then: the first historical document to mention Montepulciano wines dates back to 789 and they were much appreciated in Medici times, when Montepulciano was an ally of Florence against Siena.
The Cortona area has only opened up to quality production in recent years: it became a DOC in 1999 and the vineyards have been reconverted from white grape to black grape production. In the past red wines were predominant in the area and the choice of vine varieties like Merlot and Syrah was rooted in and renewed a local tradition. Cortona is a highly suited area to the production of international varieties which take on a unique character here.