Tuscany is home to places that capitalise on all the wonders that nature can provide. Fattoria La Vialla is one of them, producing honey, olive oil, jams, jellies, sauces and pasta, to name a few. Vineyards, though, hold pride of place, yielding top-quality pours such as the Occhio di Pernice – Riserva 2012 which this year came away with the trophy for best dessert wine.

The Lo Franco family bought the estate in 1978. At the time, the farm was derelict and the property’s tens of hectares of land were uncultivated. The driving force behind the venture was a desire to bring the farm back to life and create healthy, authentic products using no pesticides or chemical fertilisers. “Right from the outset, our parents farmed organically – even before it was regulated in Italy – and this marked the beginning of a long journey which rapidly became ours too and that of our many colleagues”, explains Marco Cervellera. Forty years on and their mission has been accomplished. The family has grown and several hectares have been added to the property, all of them farmed biodynamically. “We made a pledge to introduce new techniques so that we could work efficiently and sustainably whilst respecting and protecting the environment”. Fattoria La Vialla applies its commitment to every stage of winemaking. “Every detail is studied in depth. For example, we have started using yeast selected from honeybee pollen. It is 100% natural and not patented by the large multinational corporations”.

“We made a pledge to introduce new techniques so that we could work efficiently and sustainably whilst respecting and protecting the environment”

Occhio di Pernice – Riserva 2012, an ode to sweetness

Made from Tuscany’s mainstay grape variety, Sangiovese, this dessert wine fully expresses the symbiosis between the land and people, and the Italians use a great metaphor to describe it. “Sangiovese is like the cheese (Cacio) on macaroni. It lives and thrives across the entire region of Tuscany and expresses the quality of the terroir like few other grapes. This particular wine comes from a vineyard with a great aspect where the ripest and healthiest clusters are selected one by one and undergo ‘raisining’. A little Malvoisie complements the blend”. Occhio di Pernice Riserva 2012 is also certified Demeter and therefore not only organic but also biodynamic. “This wine fully expresses the purity of the grapes it is made from. It also encapsulates the patience required for a very hands-off approach to winemaking which is designed to show utmost respect for quality”. Displaying a coppery and amber-like hue, the dessert wine opens up to notes of raisins and prunes. Butter, chocolate and coffee aromas then add a very flavoursome sweetness and structure to the palate.

Sangiovese and Malvoisie, Tuscan staples

Sangiovese for the red wines and Trebbiano-Malvasia for the whites are undoubtedly Tuscany’s greatest varietals. “Not only are these varieties historically grown in the region, they are also perfectly suited to the area, which maximises their potential. Although it delivers different nuances, Sangiovese is grown over most of Tuscany, with the exception of the Tyrrhenian coastline, and offers up an extensive aromatic spectrum depending on the landforms and microclimates”. Sangiovese and Tuscany are inseparable and the variety produces the region’s finest wines, such as the famous Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Nobile di Montepulciano. It is also the most widely-grown grape in Italy with over 100,000 ha planted, or 10% of the total varietal range.