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Tenuta San Leonardo

Over a thousand years ago the estate in the village of San Leonardo in Trentino in the north-east of Italy was a monastery, where the Frati Crociferi practised winemaking. In 1770 the De Gresti family bought the property from the church. The present villa was constructed in 1874. In 1890 Gemma Di Gresti of San Leonardo married Tullo Guerrieri Gonzaga of Montebello and the Villa Gresti has been the residence of the Marquis Guerrieri Gonzaga ever since. The Austrians surrendered at Villa Gresti, and the preparations of the armistice that marked the end of WWI were drawn up here. It was Anselmo, the father of the the present Marquis, Carlo Guerrieri Gonzaga, who was passionate about wine. However, it was Carlo who was the first real oenologist in the family. He studied at Lausanne in Switzerland in 1957, launching the first bottle of San Leonardo in 1959, and many prestigious accolades followed over the years. Carlo had a particular interest in the grape varieties and wines of Bordeaux and spent time in France and Tuscany. It was in Tuscany that he met and struck up a friendship with Marquis Mario Incisa dela Rocchetta of Sassicaia fame, the legendary Super Tuscan wine crafted from Bordeaux varieties. In 1985 the renowned oenologist Giacomo Tachis, who had been a driving force behind Sassicaia and also Antinori's Super Tuscan Tignanello and Solaia wines, arrived at the estate to become the winemaker, and together with Carlo developed the San Leonardo style based on Carlo's love of Bordeaux. Carlo passed on his passion for the vine to his own son Anselmo who today manages the company. The 300 hectare estate gained organic certification in 2018, and the same year was also certified by the BWA Friends of Biodiversity association. The estate is nestled in the Adige Valley between Monte Baldo and the Lessini Mountains and the vines are planted at an altitude of around 150 metres above sea level, with the spectacular backdrop of the mountains behind them. There are 30 hectares of red grape varieties under vine and, unusually for the area, they are all Bordeaux varieties. Merlot planted in the early 1900's is cultivated on soils rich in pebbles which was once the riverbed of a branch of the Adige, whilst Cabernet Sauvignon planted in 1978 and ancient Carmenere vines planted in the mid-1800's, are on mainly sandy soils. The special microclimate here in the mountains, with its strong diurnal fluctuation and Ora del Garda breeze constantly circulating the vineyards, extends the ripening period and creates grapes with an unusual quantity of anthocyanins. The grapes are fermented spontaneously with native yeasts in the old cellars exclusively in concrete tanks. The cellars are arranged on different levels. The barrel cellar is underground, and here the wines age for at least 24 months in French oak barriques. Their flagship wine is eponymously called San Leonardo, first made in 1982 - a magnificent aristocratic Bordeaux blend which has won the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri countless times. This is an iconic wine, classic and profoundly elegant with extraordinary ageing potential. The wines from this historic estate are truly exceptional.