La Torre Alle Tolfe
Our visit to Torre alle Tolfe was nothing short of magical – a journey back in time, starting with a descent into the narrow stone staircases leading to an ancient cellar built in the 1300’s….
Torre alle Tolfe’s story dates back to at least 785 when Charlemagne sent a French knight, Tolfo dei Gricci to the areato build a lookout tower for the defense of Siena, lending his name to the area now known as Le Tolfe.
In more recent history, the estate has been owned by the Castelli family since 1953, when Luigi Castelli and his wife Lunella purchased the property, began its restoration, and then eventually released their first commercial wines in 1974.
Today the certified organic farm is run by their granddaughter, Mania Castelli, and covers 100 hectares. This includes 13 hectares of vineyards, along with olive groves, arable fields, and forests, extending over rolling hills towards Siena and out towards the heart of the Chianti region. The lack of pesticides and intensive agrochemicals means that the fields and forests are also home to a rich fauna and a remarkable variety of wildflowers. Mania and her team are firmly invested in managing the vineyards as ecosystems, building up the soils, and enhancing natural diversity with native plants and pollinators. Interventions involve the targeted use of organic manure, grass cover and green manures (such as nitrogen fixing plants) to ensure ideal growth conditions for the vines and grapes without pushing for excessive production.
The estate sits on a hilltop about 330m above sea level which guarantees good ventilation and a dry microclimate for the vines. Soils are well drained, containing a high sand content and remnants of ancient marine life in the form of beach pebbles and oyster shells that varies between vineyard sites.
Mania has partnered with winemaker Giacomo Mastretti (of the former estate in Giaole, La Porta di Vertine) to produce two wines of 100% Sangiovese, leaving a unique opportunity to vinify the typical blending grapes—Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo, and Colorino— as single varietals. All fermentations are spontaneous, and aging is done mostly in cement with the occasional use of used French tonneaux.
…Our visit ended with a delicious lunch, accompanied by much ‘Lunella’ (the estate rosé) and a promise to ourselves to return as soon as possible with more time to stay in one of the four ancient, restored farmhouses that occupy the estate.