The estate was established in 1989 by Piero Palmucci and very quickly became one of the cult wines of Brunello di Montalcino. Palmucci wanted to push the boundaries of the appellation, first by finding the perfect site, then experimenting with the finest clones of Sangiovese in order to produce wines of greater complexity.
Right from the estate’s inception, Palmucci was aware of the importance of clonal variation within the vineyards. He collaborated with the University of Milan, experimenting and selecting the finest clones of Sangiovese. The estate even has its own clonal nursery.
The original vineyard, Perelle Nuova, is one of the warmest sites in Montalcino and where Palmucci believed the highest-quality Sangiovese for Brunello is produced. The daytime heat is offset by cool nights due to the influence of the nearby ancient volcano of Mount Amiata, which causes a significant drop in temperature at night, helping the grapes retain freshness and acidity. Palmucci was so convinced of the uniqueness of the site that he wanted the subregion of Castelnuovo dell’Abate to gain its own separate designation.
Since buying the estate, Colle Massari has bought a further 30 hectares in the region. The wines under the Poggio di Sotto label have, however, so far remained the same. Much of the new vineyards are being replanted at a higher density, with multiple clones of the Sangiovese Grosso varietal cultivated in its own clonal nursery.
Grapes are handpicked and sorted before spontaneous fermentation in oak vats, followed by gentle extraction of colour and extended maceration on skins.
Undeterred by the trends in the region during the 1990s and early 2000s, Palmucci and Gambelli were clear in their philosophy. Once the fermentation is finished, the wine should be left to develop on its own and moved as little as possible, preserving the delicate and complex aromas that can easily be lost through excessive racking. Leaving the wine undisturbed for so long, however, meant the wines were in danger of becoming too reductive.
The two therefore carried out many experiments to find the perfect barrel which would allow the wines to mature and develop slowly, without the wines requiring racking. They found that a distinct oval barrel made from Slavonian oak was the solution and the winery had them especially made by a Venetian cooper. The estate has continued to make the wine in the same way ever since.