Paolo Leo’s 10 hectare ‘Fiore di Vigna’ vineyard lies near the town of San Donaci, deep in the Salento region. The vines of this very special vineyard are 45 years old and are trained using the traditional ‘Alberello Pugliese’ method (free-standing bush-vine). The tufa soil here has a depth of about 30 cm with a limestone base which guarantees good drainage. Plant density is 4,500 plants per hectare, with a very low yield of 1.2kg per plant and they produce only 38,000 bottles each vintage.
The story of this beautiful estate began at the turn of the 19th century when Antonio Leo started to vinify the grapes grown on his estate, Masseria Monticello, which included 20 hectares of vineyards. In the early 1920’s Antonio passed on his passion and business to his grandson, Paolo Leo and, in the early 1950s, the fourth generation of the Leo family took over the business, re-planting the family’s 20 hectares of vines. As a very young adult in the early 1980’s, Paolo Leo, the fifth generation of Leos to own the estate, had a dream – to follow the footsteps of his father and great grandfather and build a modern, state-of-the-art winery in San Donaci. Investments in the winery has been consistent since its creation and the winery today has a total capacity of 50,000 hectolitres, a new and fully-automated bottling line and over 500 French and American oak barriques for the ageing of the wines. The philosophy at Feudo Paolo Leo is to be in perfect harmony with nature, intervening only when absolutely necessary, thus ensuring that each grape expresses its natural and unique personality.
Winemaker Alessandro Michelon grew up in Trentino, northern Italy. His love of winemaking developed in his younger years, when he would help his family in their own vineyards of Valle di Cembra. His passion for the vineyards and the winemaking was so strong that he decided to attend the Istituto Agrario di San Michele, the most well-known oenological school for Italian winemakers, where he got his graduation in 1998. After working at some major wineries in Italy, he joined Cantine Paolo Leo in 2009.
The grapes are harvested manually in early September and placed in wooden crates of 5kg each. They are left in wooden crates and placed in an aerated loft for the drying process, which usually lasts approximately three weeks. During this time the grapes lose over 30% of their weight in water. Following appassimento, the grapes are de-stemmed and delicately crushed to minimize damage to the skin. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature of 25C for approximately eight days. Frequent remontage and delestage are carried out to maximize extraction of aromas and gentle tannins. After racking, malolactic fermentation is induced. The wine is then aged for 12 months in American and French oak barriques.
Fiore di Vigna has ripe aromas of concentrated berries that rise out of the glass. This dark purple wine has deep scents of currants and ripe blackberries, with a hint of oak on the nose. In the mouth it explodes with sun-baked fruit flavours that mingle with a slight herbaceousness and French oak for a powerful burst of flavour which lasts in the mouth. The finish on this wine is enjoyably long, with lasting notes of plum and spices.