The Buyer
Why La Fiorita and Natalie Oliveros are the rising stars of Montalcino

Why La Fiorita and Natalie Oliveros are the rising stars of Montalcino

In a dramatic change of career, former porn star Natalie Oliveros turned her hand to making wine in Montalcino and her new release, which for the first time includes three Brunellos, heralds a new chapter for the La Fiorita wine estate she owns and manages – not only are two of the wines from the 5-star 2019 vintage but they are also the first to be made in the re-vamped winery. Abbie Bennington met her for dinner at London’s recently opened Italian restaurant ‘Il Gattopardo’ London, tasted five wines and got the inside track on Oliveros and the 2019 vintage, although Abbie’s wine of the night was one considerably younger….

Abbie Bennington
2nd May 2024by Abbie Bennington
posted in Tasting: Wine ,

“I didn’t want to be a fallen star…” says Natalie Oliveros, owner of La Fiorita a 10.5-hectare estate in the Tuscan town of Montalcino. Addressing the proverbial elephant in the dining room, Oliveros, a keen businesswoman, was referring to her life as a much lauded and award-winning adult entertainer.

American born but of Italian heritage, Oliveros’ eyes are now firmly focused on her current wine portfolio at La Fiorita (the blooming flower) which is an estate she bought a stake in 2011 and fully acquired three years later. Unlike the first wines she made under the Savanna label, which openly referenced her previous career (Savanna Samson was her porn name), the wines at La Fiorita and the project itself are all forwards-facing and highly regarded.

Since buying the estate, Oliveros has been acquiring vineyards and setting up deals to buy in fruit to make up 30% of La Fiorita’s expanding production. There are five different plots in total, all Sangiovese, but each with their own identity. La Fiorita & Pian Bossolino face southeast; Giardinello & Osteriaccia face southwest; and Collesorbo south. The soil types range from sandy marine deposits to clay and rocky, schist-clay. All of which have their own unique altitudes and microclimates.

La Fiorita

The latest release of these wines was showcased at London’s Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) Italian restaurant. We were treated to a tasting of five wines: Ninfalia Rosato 2022, La Fiorita Rosso di Montalcino 2021, La Brunello di Montalcino Fiorita 2019, La Fiorita di NO Brunello 2019 and La Fiorita di Montalcino Riserva 2018. Each vintage was served with elegant and delicious Italian delicacies which had us dreaming of the Tuscan sun.

Those familiar with Brunello di Montalcino will know that each vintage is assessed by the local consorzio and given a star rating. The 2019 vintage was awarded the full five. A warm vintage, one without extremes and with rain that fell at opportune moments; a long ripening period combined with cool nights made for quality grapes with great potential.

“2019 is really special in my eyes,” says Oliveros “Besides being an incredible all-round vintage, it rained when it was supposed to, it was consistently warm and at La Fiorita it was our first in our new wine making facility.”

Referring to this auspicious year, 2019, Oliveros also saw her vineyards being awarded organic certification. In addition, the gravity-fed cantina was completed and each vineyard was vinified in cement separately for the first time.

It was also the year that La Fiorita produced three Brunellos; Brunello Fiore di NO; and Brunello Riserva from a single vineyard and Pian Bossolino due for release in 2025.

La Fiorita

"Women don't have to be in fashion" - Natalie Oliveros, London, April 2024

“Montalcino is like a magic mountain, there are so many different microclimates. At La Fiorita we have vineyards all around,” she says.

Magic, the ethereal and the spiritual is a golden thread that runs throughout our evening, it’s clear that to Oliveros these wines are not just a commodity to be sold but fuel a passion for the spiritual side of viticulture.

“One closest to my heart is Fiore di NO, it’s my own personal selection.”

Oliveros asked of herself: “How can I put my thumbprint on these wines? This is really my own personal baby” she says of NO, a name born of her initials but also referencing the fact that is organic and has no chemicals.

Looking to the future Oliveros adds: “I’m excited for the new vineyard I purchased and the new one I’m planting. We can expand the cellar and I would love to continue making the rosato.”

Finally reflecting on her position in the wine world that still sees women often as minority players.

“Women don’t have to be in fashion… I never thought I’d say I’m a farmer. I don’t plan to be an expert, I have a wonderful team, I want to make the kind of wine that moves me and it’s a gift to have a team like that.”

For Oliveros at La Fiorita, it’s clear her star continues to rise.

A tasting of five La Fiorita wines from the 2022, 2021, 2019 and 2018 vintages.

La Fiorita

Ninfalia Rosato 2022

Montalcino (100% Sangiovese), Six months in 17.5hl Nomblot concrete egg, 12.5% ABV

A new project and only available in magnum this elegant peach pink wine was as expressive as our host. Notes of stone fruit like its colour suggests, apricot and nectarine on the nose and palate with some tropical fruit seeping through. The intense fruit gives way to salinity and citrus, a long-defined finish. At 12.5% ABV this wine slips sylph like down the throat.

Waxing lyrical about the beauty of the vineyards Oliveros often spoke of spotting the “nymph in the vineyard, protecting our vines, who lives in the forest.” The name nymph was combined with Natalia and the title ‘Ninfalia’ for this delicious Rosato was born.

La Fiorita Rosso di Montalcino 2021

A selection from Collesorbo and Giardinello. Ten months in French oak botte grande 15% ABV

Made from declassified Brunello vineyard grapes this Rosso was fragrant and packed with blackberry and smoke. The wine demonstrated great elegance with a rich finish of ripe black fruits and liquorice. Refreshing and easy to drink, this wine expressed a quality often reserved for its more famous Brunello older siblings. Because of its approachability now this was my wine of the night.

La Brunello di Montalcino Fiorita 2019

A blend of Collesorbo; Pian Bossolino; and Giardinello vineyards, four months in concrete, 36 months in French oak botte grande.15% ABV

A ruby garnet wine with a pronounced and concentrated note of exotic spice and succulent ripe black cherries. Dried flowers, tobacco and cola on the finish, this is a wine that can be enjoyed now but shows great potential for longevity if patience can prevail.

La Fiorita Fiore di NO Brunello di Montalcino 2019

A blend of Collesorbo (46%); Pian Bossolino (15%) and Giardinello(39%). Four months in concrete, 36 months in French oak botte, Alcohol 15% ABV

Made from Oliveros' handpicked best parcels this wine is the essence of her personal taste – her ’thumbprint’ if you will. Savoury notes of dried wild herbs underly the rich dark cherry and plum flavours in this trademark red. As deep on the palate as its colour in the glass. The alcohol is 15% but well hidden by the intense fruits which with time will develop further in bottle to reveal its full potential. Only 3200 bottles produced.

“It wants and needs more time, it has a lot of interesting potential, I wanted something elegant and approachable I didn’t want to chew on my tongue,” says Oliveros.

La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2018

100% Pian Bossolino Four months in stainless steel, 36 months in French oak botte, Alcohol 15% ABV

Not made every year this Brunello Riserva is both aromatic and expressive as you would expect from a wine at the higher end of the classification tree. Deep ruby with some garnet hues this wine is packed with supple cherries, dried citrus peel and cedar. A wine that has many years to evolve and shine through with its full potential.

All wines available for purchase through Flint for on-trade and Stannary Wines for consumers.