Podere Orto lies in what Giuliano and Simona call a ‘trivium’: which means a meeting of three roads. Here, those three roads are the borders of Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany, within which their farm exists in a kind of hinterland. It is a fitting location for wines that have a strong, aristocratic strain of independence, and are not ruled by any Italian AOCs.
Guiliano Salesi and Simona de Vecchis arrived here after careers spent in translation and linguistics. They planted out the estate in 2009 through a rigorous massale selection, gleaning from abandoned vineyards in the area; they restored the old stone buildings in 2011. And almost immediately, working with young vines, started making wine whose precocity astonished us.
But then Podere Orto is blessed in three important factors. Bracing high altitude, complex soils (a sand matrix, rich in clay, calcareous marl and sandstone) and great varietals – largely bush vines of central Italian biotypes which, because indigenous, come with centuries of deep rootedness attached. Take the skin-contact white wine Ambrato, which features over 9 such varietals – including Verdello, Romanesco, Roscetto, Greco, Grechetto, Malvasia Toscana, Malvasia del Lazio – and some grapes which don’t even have names.
Giuliano and Simona farm biodynamically (uncertified) and do all the weeding by hand. They makes a red wine from a Sangiovese biotype, Grechetto Rosso; and the white Ambrato. The wine is fermented whole cluster in stainless steel and fibreglass, with no additives other than a tiny amount of sulphur on bottling.