Among Tuscany's oldest and most prestigious wine families, Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari teamed with Allen Shoup to produce a wine that showcases Washington state's terroir with plenty of Italian character. Saggi (meaning "wisdom") is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah.
A warm, dry spring arrived early in 2014 and set the stage for another hot summer season. Temperatures were consistently warm throughout June and July without any notable heat spikes, hastening an early start to harvest. But the Columbia Valley's trademark balmy fall days and cool autumn nights allowed the grapes to reach full physiological maturity while preserving the fruits' natural acidity and yielding high quality grapes across the board. In short, 2014 was a picture-perfect vintage that produced remarkably rich, flavorful wines.
Hand-harvested grapes were brought to the winery in small lots and crushed, then using a technique known as saignée, 5-10% of the juice was removed from the tank to enhance concentration. Extended maceration in small, two-ton tanks for an average of 30 days provided for optimal extraction and helped broaden the finished wine's mid-palate. Aged 18 months in 100% French oak barrels, 55% new.
An intensely colored wine with red current and cassis aromas wrapped around a core of licorice. Soft and silky on the entry, the 2014 Saggi is a flavorful package loaded with wild berries, fresh plums and hints of oak spice complemented by the wine's lively acidity and firmly textured mid-palate that turns silky on the finish.
Like previous vintages, the 2014 Saggi is a blend of our two favorite Sangiovese vineyards, each contributing distinct characteristics to the finished wine. Candy Mountain Sangiovese brings dark, ripe cassis aromas and flavors. Dick Boushey’s Yakima Valley Sangiovese is bright and lively. Cabernet Sauvignon from Stone Tree Vineyard was chosen for its refined tannins that add structure to the finished wine without overshadowing the Sangiovese. Finally, Syrah from the Yakima Valley added complexity and spice.
Among Italy’s oldest and most prestigious Tuscan wine families with a winemaking history dating back to the late 1700s, Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari are the inspiration behind winemaker Gilles Nicault's Saggi.
Today, Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari Tenute, conceived by this father-son team as a collection of small, beautifully located vineyards producing primarily Tuscan “grand crus,” is recognized for its distinctive, small-production wines from the family’s numerous estates. The vineyards are managed using modern viticulture techniques including dense planting and careful clonal selection and research. Both Ambrogio and Giovanni, a University of California at Davis enology graduate, are directly involved in winemaking and are dedicated to high quality wines that reflect the vineyard’s terroir.
Prior to launching A. & G. Folonari Tenute, Ambrogio was the president of Ruffino, originally purchased in 1912 by Ambrogio’s grandfather. While at the helm of Ruffino, Ambrogio was an outspoken advocate for Italian wine quality and took Ruffino in a new and original direction. In the late 1960s, the company began focusing on high-quality wines and in 1971 purchased Nozzole, a famous estate located near Greve in the heart of Chianti Classico. In the 1980s, Ambrogio created Cabreo, a unique combination of tradition and innovation including Cabreo Il Borgo (red), a blend of traditional Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, while La Pietra is Chardonnay from Tuscany, fermented and aged in oak. These wines were among the first in a new group of top wines now widely known as “Super Tuscans.”
In 2000, Ambrogio and Giovanni left Ruffino to focus on small-lot, estate-grown wines, committing to reinvesting, developing and expanding vineyard holdings in the interest of producing high-quality wines. Their portfolio, distributed in the U.S. by Kobrand, includes:
Nozzole Estate (Chianti Classico, Super Tuscan, Chardonnay)
Cabreo Estate (Super Tuscans)
TorCalvano di Gracciano Svetoni Estate (Nobile di Montepulciano, Rosso di Montepulciano)
La Fuga, Montalcino Estate (Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino)
Conti Spalletti Estate (Chianti Rufina, Chianti, Rosso Toscano)
Campo al Mare Estate (Bolgheri DOC, Vermentino IGT)
Vigne a Porrona Estate (Montecucco, Morellino, Maremma)
Ronco dei Folo Estate (Colli Orientali del Friuli, Pinot Grigio, Tocai, Sauvignon)
Giovanni and his wife Eleonora live with their three children at the Cabreo Estate in Greve, 30 minutes from Florence.