Ferragamo's son picks wine

Massimo Ferragamo, owner of Castiglion del Bosco winery in Tuscany.
PHOTO: CASTIGLION DEL BOSC

Winery owner Massimo Ferragamo has a famous surname. But unlike his late father and famed shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo, the 59-year-old's passion is wine. That said, the owner of Castiglion del Bosco in Tuscany wants to provide his guests and customers with the same kind of front-row access to wine that is commonly associated with the fashion world. 

To him, the fashion and wine worlds are similar, where their target While his family operates in the luxury goods world, he says "we are working with fine, high-end wines". "So when they come to Castiglion del Bosco, it's like they have to be in the front row of a fashion show," he adds.

At the property, located 80km from Florence, guests can walk in the vineyards, stay in villas or play on the 18-hole golf course-the only private course in Italy. He acquired the 2,000ha estate of Castiglion del Bosco, a Unesco World Heritage site, in 2003.

The winery was one of the seven pioneers of the Brunello di Montalcino denomination and has been producing wines since the early 1900s. In the span of 13 years, it has become the top five out of 240 estates that produce Brunello di Montalcino, a red Italian wine that contains only Sangiovese grapes. Brunello wines typically exhibit bold fruit flavours with high tannin they have been aged. Castiglion del Bosco produces 20,000 cases of wine a year, says Mr Ferragamo.

He adds that what separates it from the other Brunello producers in Montalcino is "the attention to detail" - from the vineyard to the wine cellar.

For instance, clusters of grapes are gravity-fed into 100 to 150hl tanks (a hectolitre is equal to 100 litres) on the lower level of the production facilities, instead of being pumped in.

How wine and champagne are made

  • This picture taken on October 7, 2013 shows the Bouzy vineyards, in the northeastern French champagne region.
  • If ever there was a place destined to produce a cheeky tipple, it has to be the village of Bouzy in the champagne country of northern France.
  • People harvest grapes on October 23, 2013 in Irouguy, southern France, at the Arretxea vineyards of Michel Riouspeyrous to make the Irouleguy organic wine.
  • This picture taken on October 21, 2013 during the harvest shows wine grapes in a vineyard on a spoil heap in Haillicourt, northern France.
  • People work next to a container filled with Chardonnay grapes at the Veuve Clicquot Champagne House on October 9, 2013 in Bouzy, in the northeastern French champagne region.
  • A man drops Chardonnay grapes into a container.
  • A man drops Chardonnay grapes into a container.
  • "Pinot noir" grapes, used to make Bouzy wine, in the northeastern French Champagne region village of Bouzy. Bouzy however has another string to its bow, thanks to a group of dedicated producers who have opted to maintain, albeit largely as a sideline, a centuries old tradition of producing still red wine from pinot noir vines planted close to the northern limit of where the notoriously fickle varietal will ripen fully.
  • This picture taken on October 7, 2013 shows grape pickers sorting "pinot noir" grapes, used to make Bouzy wine, in the northeastern French Champagne region village of Bouzy.
  • This picture taken on October 7, 2013 shows grape pickers sorting "pinot noir" grapes, used to make Bouzy wine.
  • People collect grapes.
  • This picture taken on October 7, 2013 shows winemaker Jean-Rene Brice shucking "pinot noir" grapes, used to make Bouzy wine.
  • This picture taken on October 7, 2013 shows an oenologist pouring "pinot noir" grape juice, used to make Bouzy wine.
  • A woman works, on October 9, 2013 in the vatroom of the Veuve Clicquot Champagne House, in Bouzy, in the northeastern French champagne region.
  • A picture taken on October 9, 2013 shows a person holding a glass of red wine, from the Pinot noir grape variety.
  • This picture taken on October 7, 2013 shows winemaker Remi Brice smelling "pinot noir" grape juice, used to make Bouzy wine.
  • A person holds a glass of red wine, from the Pinot noir grape variety, used to manufacture pink champagne.
  • A man stands in front of tanks filled with red wine, used to manufacture pink champagne, in the vatroom of the Veuve Clicquot Champagne House.
  • Champagne vineyards are pictured in Verzenay, eastern France during the traditional Champagne wine harvest October 8, 2013.
  • The end of September start of the 2013 grape harvest was the latest in the last 30 years. Weather conditions permitted grapes in the vineyards to reach maturity and cool temperatures enabled an even quality of the fruit throughout the harvest.
  • Grape pickers harvest fruit from the vines at the Billecart-Salmon vineyard in Verzenay, eastern France during the traditional Champagne wine harvest.
  • A hands of a grape picker are seen as he harvests fruit from the vines
  • Grape pickers carry boxes full of pinot noir grapes from the vines at the Billecart-Salmon vineyard.
  • Grape pickers work at the Billecart-Salmon vineyard in Verzenay, eastern France.
  • A bunch of Chardonnay grapes
  • Grape pickers harvest fruit from the vines at a vineyard in Verzy, eastern France during the traditional Champagne wine harvest
  • Weather conditions permitted grapes in the vineyards to reach maturity and cool temperatures enabled an even quality of the fruit throughout the harvest.
  • A stone marker shows the logo of the Moet & Chandon Champagne house in Hautvillers, eastern France.
  • Billecart-Salmon vineyards
  • Boxes with Chardonnay grapes are pictured in the Billecart-Salmon winepress in Mareuil-sur-Ay.
  • Bunches of pinot noir grapes are pictured in the Billecart-Salmon sort area in Mareuil-sur-Ay, eastern France during the traditional Champagne wine harvest.
  • A worker handles pinot noir grapes.
  • Workers handle pinot noir grapes at the Billecart-Salmon sorting area.
  • A worker inspects a vat holding the liquid resulting from the wine clarification process.
  • A worker inspects the liquid resulting from the wine clarification process.
  • Rows of barrels are seen in the Billecart-Salmon winery.
  • A worker fills a barrel of Champagne in the Billecart-Salmon winery.
  • Billecart-Salmon Champagne bottles are stacked in a cellar.

"When you let the grapes fall into the big tanks for fermentation by gravity and not because you pump them out, they don't get agitated too much," he says.

There is also great attention paid to details such as the types of flowers planted near the vines or the temperature of the cellars. Ultimately, it is all about the long term.

"It's not like you turn on a faucet and the wine comes out the next day," he says. "You'll see the results of those details only three to four years down the line, but it's worth it when you achieve it."

Under him, the winery's products have been winning accolades. Many of the wines have been ranked 90 points or above in the Robert Parker Wine Advocate ratings, indicating outstanding (90 to 95 points) or extraordinary (96 to 100 points) wines.

The Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2011, for instance, received a 92-point rating. The Sangiovese grapes for this wine are grown in the 42ha Capanna vineyard facing the Mediterranean sea, with the wine matured in French oak barrels for 24 months.

The wine is featured in the Platinum package of ST Wine, a recently launched service that works with reputable wine merchants here to curate and deliver a special selection of highly rated wines for readers of The Straits Times.

The Italian Brunello di Montalcino features alongside wines from France and Spain in the Platinum package.

Castiglion del Bosco's decision to enter the Singapore market is part of a bigger push into Asian territories, which Mr Ferragamo believes will be a "great market for Italian wines".

Although the winery's biggest markets have been the United States and Italy, it created the limited-edition Zodiac line for the ;China market, dedicating its best single vineyard exclusively to the wine's production.

This year's release is the Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2010 Zodiac Rooster, the fourth in a limited-edition series that started in 2013 featuring Chinese zodiac animals. Only 688 magnums, each priced at US$1,000 (S$1,442), are released every year. The wine received 99 points from renowned wine critic James Suckling this year.

Mr Ferragamo says: "I was happy to get a 99 and not a 100 because it's always good to have something to aspire to."


This article was first published on Dec 18, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.

Wine myths to stop believing

  • Fact: Surprise! Wines can actually expire.

    Not all wines can age gracefully, and many soon turn stale after a year or two. Only about one per cent of all wines improve with long-term cellaring of five to 10 years.

    Photo: Pixabay

  • Fact: Wine prices are not only influenced by quality. Image - along with market conditions, demand and even currency fluctuations - influence the price.

    Less familiar wines from more unfashionable regions and producers can also offer surprisingly good, value-for-money wines.

    Photo: Pixabay

  • Fact: Don't judge a wine by its bottle.

    A heavier bottle certainly indicates that the winery has made a substantial investment in the packaging, but that doesn't mean that the wine itself is exceptional.

    And just remember: the cost of shipping heavier packing also costs more, which is factored into its final retail price.

    Photo: Pixabay

  • Fact: You don't have to confine your wine to only Western cuisine - you can drink it with Asian food too if you choose something suitable.

    Chinese food pairs perfectly with wines that have high acidity, lower alcohol and relatively understated flavours and aromas. The next time you dig into your stir-fry, try Riesling if you prefer white wine or Pinot Noir if you like red.

    Photo: Pixabay

  • Fact: Cork has been preferred choice as it allows small amounts of oxygen into the wine to help aid its evolution - an important aspect for reds.

    But this doesn't mean that wines can't mature well with screw-on caps.

    Photo: Pixabay

  • Fact: Beer, wine, and liquors all confer the same health benefits.

    Research has revealed that it's not antioxidants that protect against heart disease, but alcohol, which raises levels of HDL - also known as good cholesterol. This helps to reduce plaque formation and clots in the arteries to lower the risk of heart diseases.

    But of course, this isn't a free pass to load up on booze. Drink in moderation!

    Photo: Pixabay

  • Fact: While this is commonly believed, the reality is that not all cheeses pair well with wine. Heavy textured and strong-tasting cheeses overpower the tongue's ability to fully enjoy the richness and balance of a good wine.

    Pair your tipple with a softer, milder cheese like Brie.

    Photo: Pixabay

  • Fact: Uncorking a bottle does not sufficiently aerate wine as the narrow bottleneck restricts airflow.

    Pouring the wine through a decanter into your glass is a more effective way to let it breathe.

    You can also gently jiggle the bottle after opening it to fully aerate your wine and release its flavour and aroma.

    Photo: Pixabay

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