Tenuta Sette Ponti is a Tuscan estate that may not be on everyone’s radar, but it soon will be, argues David Kermode. Guided by the vision of its owner Dr. Antonio Moretti, it is fast expanding with its two sister wineries Poggio al Lupo in Maremma, and Bolgheri’s Orma almost fully organic now and receiving rave reviews – the latter being favourably compared to its illustrious neighbours Sassicaia and Ornellaia. Kermode spoke to the estate and tasted the latest vintages of the wines.
“Its debut vintage received rave reviews and James Suckling declared: “this Bordeaux blend from Bolgheri is a challenger to Sassicaia and Ornellaia.”
The transformation in the quality of Tuscany’s wines is well documented, though it has taken a while for prices to catch up. Indeed, the great names still arguably represent real value when judged alongside their peers from Burgundy or Bordeaux, but time waits for no-one and those with a canny nose are already sniffing out the next big names, to join the ranks of Sassicaia, Ornellaia, and Solaia.
Tenuta Sette Ponti is one such contender. The vision of Dr Antonio Moretti, who inherited it from his father in the late 1990s, it is now one of Tuscany’s top estates, thanks in large part to Dr Moretti’s shrewd decision to hire consultant winemaker Giuseppe ‘Beppe’ Caviola. Though not necessarily a household name, he is one of Italy’s most important oenologists, advising dozens of wineries from Piedmont down to Sicily, and produces his own accomplished range, Ca Viola.
The collaboration is already bearing fruit, or at least some plummy critical acclaim. The winery’s marketing materials make much of a quote from Antonio Galloni, of Vinous, who says “Sette Ponti has made serious wines for a while now, but over the last few years, proprietor Antonio Moretti and consulting oenologist Giuseppe Caviola have taken things to another level”.
The estate – named after ‘seven bridges’, one of which, Ponte Buriano, features in the background of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa – is 300 hectares, of which 54 are devoted to vines, the soils a classic Tuscan mix of sand, clay, limestone and ‘galestro’, a sort of rocky schist. The wines are either Sangiovese-dominant or Bordeaux blends.
Under Dr Moretti’s stewardship, Tenuta Sette Ponti has also expanded, to encompass two other properties – Poggio al Lupo, in Maremma, and Bolgheri’s Orma – with all three in the final stages of transition to organic status.
Purchased in 2004, Orma is a 5.5 hectare estate, nestled in-between two illustrious neighbours, Sassicaia and Ornellaia – the kind of high-octane ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ that must bring a tension rather greater than outdoing next door’s new pressure washer.
Thus far, the omens for Orma look promising. A mix of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, its debut vintage, Orma 2005, received rave reviews and James Suckling declared: “this Bordeaux blend from Bolgheri is a challenger to Sassicaia and Ornellaia.” So never mind that pressure washer…
Further south, Poggio al Lupo produces three wines, commanding lower prices: a Poggio al Lupo Cabernet Sauvignon, a Morellino di Scansano DOCG (an affordable, accessible Maremma Sangiovese) and a coastal Vermentino.
The wines are imported by Carson and Carnevale, which held a tasting of six wines, part vertical – Tenuta Sette Ponti’s Crognolo and Oreno from the 2018 vintage, plus Oreno from 2009; Orma 2018 and 2009; and Poggio al Lupo Vermentino 2019 – hosted by Peter McCombie MW.
“I’m a huge fan of these wines, but they have, to a certain extent, remained under the radar until now,” said McCombie, as part of his introduction. “I used to be a bit snotty about Merlot in my youth, but you have to admit that it seems to perform very well in Tuscany.”
So how were the wines tasting?
Tenuta Sette Ponti, Crognolo, Toscana IGT 2018. Sangiovese from a 90-year-old clone, with a little Merlot (7%) and just over a year in barrel, this is still youthful, a little angular and unmistakably Tuscan, with bright acidity, juicy red fruit, dried herbs and subtle sweet spice. It’s enough to make a wild boar nervous because, like him, it makes you think of ragù. RRP £30
Tenuta Sette Ponti, Oreno, Toscana IGT 2018. The estate’s flagship wine, half Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, the remainder Petit Verdot, its ‘international’ varieties (well, French) come with a distinctive Tuscan signature. There’s a wild, hedgerow note to the red fruit, cherry-flecked dark chocolate and mocha. A powerful yet luxurious wine, the elegant structure and ripe tannins belie its not insignificant 15% alcohol. RRP £85
Tenuta Sette Ponti, Oreno, Toscana IGT 2009. The mini bottle strikes again! A small number of these samples were sadly oxidised, including mine, so it’s not possible to add a reliable tasting note. RRP £125
Orma, Toscana IGT 2018. A blend of majority Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and the remainder Cabernet Franc, it is arguably the latter that most keenly makes its presence felt. The wine screams Bolgheri, though in the most elegant of voices. A floral, rose petal lift leads into intense red fruit, with foraged blackberry, tobacco leaf and subtle souk spice. Beautifully balanced, the tannins are ripe and the finish leaves a long yet delicate imprint. RRP £85
Orma, Toscana IGT, 2009. Tawny from its evolution, smooth and satisfying, there’s soft leather, cigar box and sweet spice to complement the mature, graceful berry fruit and fine-grained tannins. Classy and comforting, there’s still plenty to give. A real treat. RRP £125
Poggio al Lupo, Vermentino, Toscana IGT, 2019. Though grown close to the coast, there’s a little altitude freshness here too. The grapes grow at around 100m. Fermented in stainless steel, there’s a floral, honeysuckle note to the fruit, pithy white grapefruit, a savoury undertow and a refreshing saline twang to the finish. RRP £19
The wines of Tenuta Sette Ponti and imported and distributed in the UK by Carson and Carnevale, which is a supplier partner of The Buyer. To learn more about them click here.