Il Borro winery
There are few Italian wine companies where you can admire vineyards lost among unspoilt hills, Chianina cattle bred in the wild, and then lithographs by Picasso, serigraphs by Warhol or engravings by Mantegna. A strong entrepreneurial spirit as well as a great deal of sensitivity are necessary to combine all these characteristics that the Ferragamo family has always shown in the fields of fashion, hospitality and, for a few years now, also in the wine sector. We are talking about Il Borro, the farm located in the Valdarno Superiore basin, now run by Salvatore Ferragamo. A microcosm of vineyards, olive groves, woods, a cattle farm, an organic vegetable garden and a high-end relais hotel. The ancient history can be traced from medieval documents; Salvatore tells us the current one: “it all stems from the love of my father Ferruccio for this land, it was the place where we have been spending our summers”. So, in 1993 the Ferragamos bought the 750-hectare (1853 acres) estate from Duke Amedeo of Savoy-Aosta and began restructuring. The winemaking activity started in 1995 with the planting of the first vineyards: after the acquisition of Tenuta Vitereta, today the rows extend over 85 hectares (210 acres) in the Valdarno di Sopra area. In 2012 the turning point, when the Ferragamos decided to switch completely to organic. Stefano Chioccioli was entrusted with this task: “the greatest challenge I was called upon to take on was the transition from conventional to organic,” says the oenologist and agronomist.
Art and wine
“Since 2012 Il Borro has been part of the prestigious Relais&Chateaux association and I was delighted to become its ambassador in the same year,” says Salvatore Ferragamo. Nestled in the unspoilt Tuscan landscape, Il Borro, besides being a farm, offers the possibility to stay in one of the many structures elegantly renovated over the years. The Dimora Il Borro is the core of the estate, a villa with luxurious suites built in the mid-19th century. Descending from the villa and crossing a small stone bridge, there is the medieval hamlet frozen in time: a hotel spread out among cobbled streets and charming, perfectly preserved squares. In addition, the estate also boasts luxury villas and cottages perfectly integrated into the rural setting of the area. The spa, swimming pools and top-notch food and wine – dine at the Osteria del Borro and try chef Andrea Campani’s cuisine – complete a unique experience. “Today more than ever, with traveller looking for history, authenticity, genuine flavours and unspoilt places, we find that my father had a quite foresighted vision”. A vision that also led to the creation of the Galleria Vino&Arte. From Mantegna to Goya, from Rembrandt to Dürer, Picasso and Warhol: these are just a few examples housed in the exhibition space, the brainchild of Ferruccio Ferragamo: “with the first vineyards, my father started buying rare pieces of engravings, burins, etchings and other wine themed artworks. Over time, he had been receiving many of them as gifts. Everything stems from the intimate connection between art and wine, something that inspired artists of every age”. It is a space dedicated to the history of Bacchus’ drink and its importance in daily life. A journey that unfolds four sections relating to the Bacchic mysteries, the Christian tradition, the domestic dimension and the abuse and vice to which wine can lead.
Il Borro wines
But let’s move on to the wines. The work in the cellar sticks to a non-intervention strategy: “from actors to spectators, we check that everything proceeds according to natural processes integrated with a fair share of technology”, tells us Stefano Chioccioli. Vinification is traditional, with long, delicate maceration on the skins. And then amphora or small and large wooden barrel ageing. That’s all, control and respect for the terroir”. In Vini d’Italia 2021, the Alessandro Dal Borro ’16 is awarded the Tre Bicchieri: a pure Syrah, produced only in the magnum size. Fresh scents of undergrowth on a fruity base of blackberry and currant on the nose, before crossing spicy hints of pepper with a menthol, slightly smoky finish. Pulpy but not heavy on the palate, it shows a captivating spicy aftertaste. Bolle di Borro ’14 is an enjoyable Metodo Classico sparkling wine made from Sangiovese grapes. Not to be underestimated is Valdarno di Sopra Petruna ’18, an intriguing, pure Sangiovese aged in earthenware.
“Il Borro became carbon negative, thanks to the new photovoltaic system. For those travelling by plane from London to Il Borro, for instance, the Co2 emissions produced will be offset by the end of the second day at our Relais&Chateux. Il Borro is a company that could be defined as ‘self-sufficient’ – continues Stefano – “we produce the seed of field beans and barley that we use for green manure in the vineyards; our Chianina breeding farm provides the manure that we use to restore the soil microflora as well as in biodynamic practices such as ‘horn manure’ to improve fertility”. And then there is the sexual confusion and antagonistic insects to combat pests, and copper in low quantities to control the downy mildew. “It’s a mixture of organic and biodynamic, whose only aim is to improve the complexity of the vineyard ecosystem and minimise the environmental impact” concludes Stefano.