History of il Torchio
Gilda Musetti, of Il Torchio says,
'The company was founded in the 1980s by my grandfather Giorgio, who was one of the first to bottle in the Colli di Luna appellation (in western Liguria, near the border with Tuscany). He always believed in this area, and piece by piece, he bought a natural amphitheater of land in the hill of Castelnuovo Magra, which sees the Ligurian Sea and is protected by the Alps with its marble quarries behind it, very important for him that the Vermentino must see the sea, so all our vineyards have exposure south-east and south facing the sea.
In 2012 he became ill and suddenly died, at the time I was working in a law firm on child abuse and my brother Edoardo was just over 18 years old was studying oenology, which he left after not even a year,
together we decided to start this path, to return to the family farm. In a short time the most obvious route presented itself, that is to try to have as little impact as possible in the field in order to bring the best fruit to the winery. For 2 years in the cellar there has also been my husband, Alessandro, who I met in London, where as a sommelier he sold our wines, of Tuscan origin, and he feels, he brought a big nose inside our small but well-run team.'
PHILOSOPHY of Il Torchio
'We like to define ourselves as people who are respectful of nature, we have been left these wonderful vineyards, we take care of the wine from the grapes to the final sale; when we taste our wines, we want to feel our territory, on the border between Liguria and Tuscany, we like the austerity of the Ligurians together with the directness of the Tuscans and this shows in our wines, (sapid but very acidic, direct) our personality, very straightforward people, direct and sociable, our road is always in progress or better we have a line to follow that is, as I said before, respect for our land and absolute respect for a glass of good wine, everything else we like to create around it, we are always looking for new things, we are very curious.’
‘The estate consists of 12 hectares in total, of which 8 are planted with grapevines, the other 4 olives and our vegetable garden; the total production of wine is less than 4,000 cases. We are in conversion to organic agriculture, which has brought improvements to the whole ecosystem, including the wildlife. All the wine is produced from our grapes and bottled by us with our bottling machine. The yeasts are indigenous, for the whites we make a pied de cuve*, whereas the reds are allowed to ferment spontaneously.’
Vermentino ‘Il Bianco’, Colli di Luni
100% Vermentino, estate bottled, from predominantly clay vineyards planted in 1980. The vineyards are near the coast, with south and south-east exposure, at between 60-200 feet above sea level. The grapes are harvested in early September, given 2 days of contact with the skins, then fermented normally in stainless steel. After four more months in tank, mostly on the lees, the wines are bottled with a coarse filtration and no fining. Around 1,000 cases produced. Dry.
Classic Vermentino, which is to say pale straw in color, quite aromatic (lemon, Mediterranean herbs), fresh and bright on the palate with the same herbal and citrus notes. Perfect aperitif or light seafood wine, would be great with pesto pasta.
Vermentino ‘Il Torchio’, Colli di Luni
100% Vermentino, from our higher vineyards, predominantly decomposed silica-rich rock, planted in 1980. The vineyards are near the coast, with south and south-east exposure, at between 260 and 330 feet above sea level. The grapes are picked by hand in the middle of September, pressed immediately and fermented normally in stainless steel, then aged for 8 months in tank, mostly on the lees. Dry.
Varietally typical, with lemon and herbal notes, medium-weight on the palate (thicker in texture when compared to the regular bottling); long, almost oily finish. Drink this with grilled fish or roast chicken.
‘Stralunato’, Liguria di Levante
80% Vermentino, 20% Moscato, from our higher vineyards, consisting of clay and decomposed silica-rich rock, planted in 1980. The vineyards are near the coast, with south and south-east exposure, at between 260 and 330 feet above sea level. The grapes are picked by hand in the middle of September, given 4 days of contact with the skins, then fermented in large oak barrels. The wine is then aged in large oak barrels on the lees for six months before bottling, without filtration or fining (the wine is clarified by racking only). Dry.
Very distinctive wine. Vermentino is somewhat aromatic, Muscat is extremely so, the combination is almost musky; on the palate very intense, long, mouth-coating, medium-weight (four days of maceration with the skins adds a lot of texture). I would drink this by itself as a ‘meditation wine,’ or maybe with roast pork.
‘Il Nero’ (Vermentino Nero), Colli di Luni
This varietyis not related to Vermentino, confusingly, but a quite separate variety, indigenous to this far eastern part of Liguria, near the border with Tuscany. The rows of ‘Nero’ are scattered in the different parts of the estate; so the soils are clay with some decomposed siliceous rock, at altitudes between 60 and 330 feet above sea level. The grapes are picked by hand at the end of September, crushed, fermented on the skins for about 6 days in large wooden vats, then aged for about 4 months before bottling. The wine is clarified only by racking, not fined or filtered.
Delicious mid-weight red wine, aromatic (floral, berryish), fresh and very flavorful on the palate, very versatile food wine (I’d drink this with chicken dishes, all sorts of pasta dishes, roast pork, even seared tuna). This kind of unexpected pleasure is the reason we love local grape varieties.
* The French phrase ‘pied de cuve,’ sometimes referred to as a wild yeast starter, means to harvest a small quantity of grapes early, crush them, and allow them to begin fermenting with the yeasts already present, then using this to inoculate the main fermentation.