Winemaker Federico Giuntini in his Chianti Rufina vineyard

Opening a Bottle Asks: New Winemaker Interviews

My New Video Series Showcasing Producer Perspectives

5 min read

Time with winemakers is precious. Not only do they have a thousand things on their to-do list, but I have a litany of questions to ask, wines to taste, and subjects to document with my camera. During the seemingly perpetual travel hiatus of COVID-19, I spent a good deal of time thinking about how I could better use my time during these winemaker interviews, and one thing stood out to me most: shoot more video content.

So this past spring when I visited Lazio and Tuscany, I decided to shoot short, 1- to 3-minute videos with winemakers, whereby I asked them a single question and filmed their response. My intention was to use these winemaker interviews for my virtual tasting series, and largely, I do. However, what also emerged was a new series of videos I am calling Opening a Bottle Asks … — which is now available on YouTube. [Click the red subscribe button for updates].

Five New Videos

For my first series, I am feature five winemakers ranging from Montalcino, Chianti Classico, Chianti Rufina, San Gimignano and Cori. The videos are embedded below.

Driving the topics for these first few were explanations on certain facets of winemaking that have long fascinated me: topics like the age-worthiness of wine, heroic viticulture, upholding a family legacy, employing an ancient and traditional winemaking technique, and how a community of growers can successfully band together as a coop.

Long-time readers of Opening a Bottle will know that these topics coincide with the many icons I use throughout the site to earmark wines and wineries for their unique attributes. Already, we’ve built out a page for each icon to explain why they matter to us (and to link to relevant wineries and wine articles). Now, my aim is to include a video for each icon as well. If you are in the wine trade and these videos are relevant to the work you are doing, please embed them on your site or share them on social media.

Look for more of these winemaker interviews in the near future, and if you haven’t already, join Opening a Bottle and unlock our wine reviews and regular virtual tasting classes with a subscription. Proceeds go right back into making this big, beautiful website. Thank you.

Age-Worthy Wines with Elisabetta Fagiuoli

The first video I want to share has so much meaning to me. Elisabetta Fagiuoli of Montenidoli is a legend in the Tuscany wine scene. With more than 50 vintages under her belt, it is safe to say she has seen it all, and endured quite an uphill climb in her career as well — especially as a female winemaker in the male-dominated Italian wine industry.

Over lunch in an intimate room (complete with a wood-burning fire), we covered a lot of ground, but what I really wanted to ask her for this video was the magic of an aged Sangiovese. After all, she had opened a 2001 Sangiovese for the occasion.

Her response was incredible.

Since this video was about Sangiovese in general, I spliced in footage from Chianti Classico and Montalcino as well. Look for a feature story on Fagiuoli, her winery and the foundation she started in the near future.

Heroic Viticulture with Francesco Mulinari

Few topics surrounding wine inspire me more than heroic viticulture. Defined by the degree of toil involved in their upkeep and maintenance, heroic vineyards are often found on either steep slopes or remote places (or a combination of the two). The wines they produce have an element of improbability to them.

This video features a heroic vineyard in an unlikely place: Tuscany’s Montalcino. Winemaker Francesco Mulinari of L’Aietta describes what makes his terraced vineyard so special, and we see the Brunello harvest firsthand thanks to the help of a faithful draft horse named Giorgia.

Francesco preferred to speak in Italian for this video, and I have done my best to be faithful to his intentions with the translation in the closed-captioning.

L’Aietta is a remarkable, hidden world. Look for a Vineyard Story on this terraced plot in the near future.

Family Legacies with Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti

I love featuring multigenerational wineries. Their continuity through the ages is not only fascinating, but their natural predilection for understanding the longer horizon often means more careful winemaking.

In this video, I sat down with Emanuela Stucchi-Prinetti — whose family has owned and managed the esteemed Chianti Classico estate Badia a Coltibuono since 1846 — how she balances the tradition set by her ancestors with the responsibility she owes her children, grandchildren and future descendants. Subscribers can also check out Badia a Coltibuono’s Essential Winemakers of Italy page.

My interview with Stucchi Prinetti also leant quite a bit of context to this recent article on the future of Chianti Classico.

The Traditions of Vin Santo with Federico Giuntini

Timeless is a word that doesn’t just refer to the taste profile of a classic wine — it can also refer to a process in shepherding the wine to that state.

While visiting Essential Winemaker Federico Giuntini of Fattoria Selvapiana in Chianti Rufina, I asked him to explain to us how vin santo is made, what its cultural and tradition significance is to the Tuscan people, how it has improved over the years, and what wine pairings work best with it.

Look for the upcoming Still Essential profile on Fattoria Selvapiana and its other wines, including the epic “Bucerchiale” Chianti Rufina Riserva.

The Keys to a Successful Cooperative Winery with Nazzerano Milita

Across Europe, cooperative wineries often give winegrowers their most fruitful, immediate opportunity to bring wine grapes to market. Successful cooperative wineries — like the winery featured in this video, Cincinnato in Cori, Italy — balance fair pricing with incentives for quality to ensure better wines. It’s a tricky line they have to tread, but the rewards for wine drinkers are huge: coop wines can be among the best values on the market.

I had to transcribe and translate this video with Nazzerano Milita from Italian into English. I apologize if any subtle dialectic phrases were lost in the process.

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