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Petra

In the late 1990's Francesca Moretti was travelling by car with her father to Bordeaux and fell in love with the history and culture of the châteaux. This inspired her to abandon her plan of becoming a vet and study agriculture and oenology instead. Francesca's father was no other than Vittorio Moretti of Bellavista Franciacorta fame. In 1997 with the Bordeaux tradition in mind, Francesca and her father, with the help of Attilio Scienza, one of Italy's most renowned professors and consultants of viticulture, started looking for a property to convert. They found it in the beautiful medieval town of Suvereto, in the Val de Cornia region of Maremma in south-western Tuscany. It was Scienza's idea to call the 300 hectare estate ‘Petra’. “Pietra” is Italian for stone and, on analysing the soils, it was found that it was all naturally very rocky and high in minerals. The stunning state-of-the-art winery was designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, set on a hill with a central 25 metre tall cylindrical body overlooking a broad expanse of vineyards. There are 94 hectares under vine, divided into plots matched to each varietal grown: for instance, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are planted nearer to the coast at lower altitudes, and Sangiovese, Syrah and Cabernet Franc higher up on the slopes. An additional 60 hectares in San Lorenzo and 45 in Campiglia Marittima are also under vine in these Suvereto municipalities. Francesca is also lovingly recreating a vineyard that was planted by Elisa Bonaparte, sister of Napoleon two centuries ago, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot which later became known as The Princess Vineyard. The winemaking approach at Petra is soft with low impact, and the style of the wines is more in the Super Tuscan model. The grapes are gathered on the roof of the winery, which is an inclined plane parallel to the hill, from there the fruit is de-stemmed and falls gently to the maceration and fermentation tanks below. The wines are aged in a barrel hall 25 metres underground where a long gallery lined with casks leads to a rock wall, perfectly illustrating the layers of rock and minerals that were the inspiration for Petra. These gems from this special place in the Tuscan metalliferous hills are a complete joy!