The history of Il Paradiso di Manfredi starts back in 1914 with the birth of Manfredi Martini in Montalcino. Fast-forward to the 1950s and he was working for the only producer in Montalcino in those days, the iconic Biondi-Santi. He and his wife, Fortunata, then purchased an estate in 1958. Apparently, the name Il Paradiso stemmed from a priest who lived with the Martinis in the early 1900s deeming the area paradise. Thus, the estate of Il Paradiso di Manfredi was born. However, the sobriquet wasn’t totally appropriate as there was a catastrophic winter in the sixties which was so bad that it destroyed the estate’s olive trees! Luckily for wine lovers, this led directly to Manfredi replacing these trees with vines instead. In 1967, he was amongst a group who founded the Consorzio del Brunello di Montalcino association and, at that point, there were only twelve producers – today there are around 200! Following his death in 1982, Florio Guerrini, his son-in-law, took over with the help of his wife, Rosella.
The compact estate of three hectares is nestled on the side of the hill on which the town of Montalcino is perched. Of these, two and a half hectares are planted to vine – two of which produce Brunello di Montalcino from Sangiovese Grosso (called Brunello here). Sangiovese is also the grape of Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano amongst others. From these two and a half hectares, they produce between 6,000 and 8,000 bottles of Brunello plus between 1,800 and 3,000 bottles of Rosso di Montalcino per year. In addition, 1,200 bottles of Riserva are made in years deemed special by the family. The artisanal nature of production here can be compared to that of Banfi who produce more than 50,000 cases of Brunello per year!
The vineyards are placed on terraces, parallel along the hill of Montalcino, with varying altitudes (approximately 300 metres above sea level) and are exposed on the north side. This is a land rich in fossils and shells and they provide excellent nourishment to the vines’ roots. These north-facing vineyards produce lithe, refined wines with redcurrant and sour red-cherry aromas and flavours compared to those from the southern sectors which tend towards riper, red-cherry and even dark plum aromas and flavours along with a much richer mouthfeel. These stark differences can sometimes lead to the two types feeling like different wines altogether as Sangiovese is so good at transmitting its terroir. There are seven different vineyard parcels and a mixture of all these aids the wine’s complexity.
Following such a long history as regards Brunello, it will come as no surprise that the estate has made wine using traditional methods since its inception. Manfredi never used herbicides and fertilisers and this approach has been followed by the present incumbents. Thus, this estate long preceded the trend of biodynamic viticulture but they are now classified as such!
As previously mentioned, things stay along traditional lines in the winery (a 19th century construction). The grapes are fermented in cement-lined tanks with wild yeasts. The wine is then transferred by gravity into large Slavonian oak barrels. The Brunellos remain in these barrels for at least three years and sometimes longer – 36 to 40 months for the Brunello and 48 to 54 months for the Riserva. However, the Rosso only sees the barrels for approximately 14 months. The wine is bottled without ever having suffered the stress of being pumped. There is no fining, no filtration and no acidification. All of this allows the wine to speak clearly of its terroir.