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Ferragamo’s son picks wine

The Straits Times, 18 December 16, – Anjali Raguraman

Son of shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo says the world of wine is like that of luxury fashion, in that they both target a select few winery owner Massimo Ferragamo has a famous surname. But unlike his late father and famed shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo, the 59-year-old’s passion is wine. That said, the owner of Castiglion del Bosco in Tuscany wants to provide his guests and customers with the same kind of front-row access to wine that is commonly associated with the fashion world.

To him, the fashion and wine worlds are similar, where their target audiences are a “select few”. While his family operates in the luxury goods world, he says “we are working with fine, high-end wines”. So when they come to Castiglion del Bosco, it’s like they have to be in the front row of a fashion show,” he adds.

At the property, located 80km from Florence, guests can walk in the vineyards, stay in villas or play on the 18-hole golf course–the only private course in Italy.

He acquired the 2,000ha estate of Castiglion del Bosco, a Unesco World Heritage site, in 2003. The winery was one of the seven pioneers of the Brunello di Montalcino denomination andhas been producing wines since the early 1900s.

In the span of 13 years, it has become the top five out of 240 estates that produce Brunello di Montalcino, a red Italian wine that contains only Sangiovese grapes. Brunello wines typically exhibit bold fruit flavours with high tannin and acidity, depending on how long they have been aged.

Castiglion del Bosco produces 20,000 cases of wine a year, says Mr Ferragamo. He adds that what separates it from the other Brunello producers in Montalcino is “the attention to detail” – from the vineyard to the wine cellar.

For instance, clusters of grapes are gravity-fed into 100 to 150hl tanks (a hectolitre is equal to 100 litres) on the lower level of the production facilities, instead of being pumped in. “When you let the grapes fall into the big tanks for fermentation by gravity and not because you pump them out, they don’t get agitated too much,” he says. There is also great attention paid to details such as the types of flowers planted near the vines or the temperature of the cellars. Ultimately, it is all about the long term. It’s not like you turn on a faucet and the wine comes the next day,” he says. “You’ll see the results of those details only three to four years down the line, but it’s worth it whenyou achieve it.” Under him, the winery’s products have been winning accolades. Many of the wines have been ranked 90 points or above in the Robert Parker Wine Advocate ratings, indicating outstanding (90 to 95 points) or extraordinary (96 to 100 points) wines.

The Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2011, for instance, received a 92-point rating. The Sangiovese grapes for this wine are grown in the 42ha Capanna vineyard facing the Mediterranean sea, with the wine matured in French oak barrels for 24 months. The wine is featured in the Platinum package of ST Wine, a recently launched service that works with reputable wine merchants here to curate and deliver a special selection of highly rated wines for readers of The Straits Times.

The Italian Brunello di Montalcino features alongside wines from France and Spain in the Platinum package. Castiglion del Bosco’s decision to enter the Singapore market is part of a bigger push into Asian territories, which Mr Ferragamo believes will be a “great market for Italian wines”. Although the winery’s biggest markets have been the United States and Italy, it created the limited-edition Zodiac line for the China market, dedicating its best single vineyard exclusively to the wine’s production. This year’s release is the Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2010 Zodiac Rooster, the fourth in a limited-edition series that started in 2013 featuring Chinese zodiac animals. Only 688 magnums, each priced at US$1,000 (S$1,442), are released every year. The wine received 99 points from renowned wine critic James Suckling this year. Mr Ferragamo says: “I was happy to get a 99 and not a 100 because it’s always good to have something to aspire to.”