Updated: Apr 24
The treasures of Tuscany revered through the centuries and revealed through art, architecture, gastronomy and wine. Toscana is a region like no other, a place where the poetry of winemakers is known to produce some of the most renowned wines in the world.
Located between the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Lucca’s iconic rampart walls and the renaissance art of Florence, one can find the vineyards of Conti Degli Azzoni, where tall cypress trees stand as guardians around the hilltop vineyards planted generations past. Taking a tour of the green and gold rolling landscape, dappled by old oaks, pine and chestnut trees, one can breathe in the beauty of life as it unfolds under the light of the fabled Tuscan sun.
At the vineyards of Conti degli Azzoni, where knowledge of the soil has been passed down through the generations, winemaker Count Aldobrando mixes traditional approaches to agriculture with innovative biological methods, in order to assure the quality of his wines.
Their gorgeous Pinot Grigio, an orange wine with copper color, created from the extended time the skins macerate, is full of fresh minerality, great acidity and alluring aromas of apricot, peach and hazelnut. With this wonderful wine, the Count recommends pairing buttery pasta with porcini mushrooms or truffles, grilled chicken or porc.
In our interview with Count Aldobrando he shared stories about the art and heart of their wines and a little history about his ancestor Pope Gregory V, about whom he proudly proclaimed, “He did not drink as good of wine, as I do now!” A fact Bacchus would most certainly agree upon.
Q | How did winemaking start for you?
Originally my family came from another Italian region, Veneto. My grandfather bought this estate, along with others, and started farming sunflowers, basil and other vegetables and planting the vineyards on the hills you see now.
I became responsible for the wine business 21 years ago, developing what we already had based on the knowledge of my family, and from my trips made around the world, which helped me be on top of trends and set in place efficient answers to new challenges regarding the wine world.
Q | What challenges are those and what can you tell us about that?
Although winemaking is a sort of conservative business, it is always evolving and there are many people trying to come with something new or inspiring. Take for instance the biodynamic wines or natural wines as a trend: Personally, I do not believe these practices support the overall ecosystem. At Azzoni we muster the broader concept of organic sustainability, which focuses on other areas beyond grapes and vineyards and concentrates on conditions for growing and balance overall.
Alternative areas that we have been focusing on are with solar-energy, systems to better manage water needed for our crops and a state-of-the-art program using insects to better monitor the quality of the soil. Using all these modalities, we and all those who surround us, will be able to experience a more sustainable future.
Q | Can we say that winemaking is also an art form?
Yes, I do think that we can establish the parallel between wine and art, as both are an individual challenge. Artists will not succeed if they do not master their element - being it stonework, painting, drawing, sound, movement, cuisine, etc…to be technical & knowledgeable of what they create is imperative. This also applies to winemaking, which is sometimes even harder since the forces of nature cannot be mastered.
Q | How is it living in a renowned place such as Tuscany?
Tuscany is a beauty trap...I feel fortunate to experience the bliss found from the amazing colors provided each sunset and the tenderness of the vineyards growing on the hills.
I feel proud to live at the core of a place with such culture and history that has inspired so many through the centuries.
Article by Séanna Marie, Interview by Antonio Moreira
Degli Azzoni Avogadro "Villa Sol" Pinot Grigio, 2018 | La Rotta, Tuscany, Italy
The Villa Sole is not a typical Pinot Grigio. The grapes undergo maceration pre-fermentation which means the wine has longer skin contact than most white wines, giving it a distinctive copper color, commonly known as orange wine. The result is a fresh and mineral forward wine with great acidity. It has delicious aromas of exotic fruit followed by flavors of peach and hazelnut.
This wine is delicious with fish, light pasta dishes and shellfish.
Grape Varieties: 100% Pinot Grigio