What could be lovelier than sharing a bottle of rosso and some Tuscan salumi while watching the sunset behind the hill of Poggio Cuccule ? Then letting that emotion wash over you, taking pleasure, for good reason, in the gentle intoxication the wine’s spirit bring ?
—Philippe Bon, writer
Like the creative artist, the winegrower is nourished from the milieu wheres she develops the craft. And if she does not consider herself to be an artist, she must absolutely possess an artistic sensibility that goes and-in-hand with a farmer’s “common sense”.
From the first time we met, I was struck by the determination Suzanne Syz revealed, declaring, “When I took over the estate in 2006, a renowned viticultural consultant advised me to restructure the vineyards to increase productivity; pull out the vines, some of which had been untended; and to replant merlot and cabernet sauvignon [grapes]. But I decided not to touch the terroirs’ structure; to preserve the vines that were in place; and to plant new plots by missal selection, with new vines grafted from our best old ones. I also immediately sought to implement certified organic methods of cultivation and to apply the guiding principles of biodynamic agriculture. This was simply the natural choice,” Syz concluded—proof of her desire to preserve the rural Tuscan province of Arezzo’s profound identity and character.
At la Fattoria di Caspri, the earth and its traditions both rule. It is principally the indigenous sangiovese variety of wine grape that has been used to replant the vineyards on the slopes of the Vasca and surrounding hills. Cilliegiolo vines have been preserved as testimony to a local viticultural rusticity, simplicity, and frankness. If the winemaker maintains a link with the earthly realm by working with vines, the fermentation of grape juice is the first step in the creation of the wine itself. In alchemy, fermentation is associated with transmutation. Here again, it is not technique but the spirit that shows the way.
The birth of a wine—like birth of a work of art—is a process guided by the raw materials at hand and by the soul of the place where the artist or winemaker works, resulting in a correct balance that provokes an emotional response. White grapes are vinified by maceration over the course of many long weeks of fermentation, according to the traditional practices long maintained in the area before the destructive influence of modernization. The juice is enriched with tannins extracted by contact with the grape skins, seeds, and stalks, giving the wine vigor, freshness, and density.
Red grapes, harvested “whole crop” for each vintage, likewise macerate in small conical vats. The young wine is interfered with at stage as little as possible out of respect for its raw materials; next follows patient maturation to allow the wine to develop structure, and bottling without filtration in order not to subtract from what constitutes its essence. Throughout this period, when the wine’s birth is preceded by the rebirth of its raw materials, the winemaker must know how to remain attentive to the vintage—how to follow along without forcing, while accepting and maintaining trust in the wine through the rougher, unrewarding phases of its development until is reaches maturity.
Through the perseverance and guided by her creative spirit, Suzanne Syz has devoted herself to her new passion. With the help of a winemaker, who is in charge of the estate’s day-to-day running, Syz makes natural wines without recourse to any oenological tricks and giving in to passing-fashions in winemaking. Together, they emphasize sincerity of expression, refusing any idea of making wine into a cult or an object of speculation. Like the artworks with which she surrounds herself, Syz’s wines benefit from rare quality whose secret she knows.
By desacralizing paintings and sculptures and integrating them into daily life, Syz creates a form of exchange between the artwork and its environment, making it possible for the viewer to rediscover the essence that underlay ist creation. In the same way, her wines have no purpose other than fulfill her initial aim: to bring people together, refresh them, give them pleasure and joy, and lift their temperaments.
Now that the sixth vintage has been put in the cellars, it is time to take stock of the distance traveled over these last few years. The soil has been renewed, the equilibrium of the vines restored, and each year the wines grow in subtlety. La Fattoria has been reborn, and the estate’s wines are once again fulfilling their primordial role, which is to create social, cultural, and intellectual links among those who taste them.