Fattoria La Gerla, named for the large, old-fashioned, conical baskets that grape-harvesters used to carry on their backs, was founded in 1976 by the late Sergio Rossi. Originally from Milan, Mr. Rossi purchased the property in 1975 from Tedina Biondi-Santi, the daughter of Tancredi Biondi-Santi, who had inherited the property after her father’s passing. The purchase of what was then called the Podere Colombaio Santi included an ancient farmhouse and 6.5 hectare of vineyards. Mr. Rossi, who by then had been managing the Altesino-Caparzo estate for several years, renamed the property La Gerla and set about restoring the estate and replanting the vines using selection massale. His first vintage was 1976, making La Gerla one of the first 35 bottlers of Brunello di Montalcino; these days, there are 280.
Today, La Gerla consists of 11.5 hectares, divided between the original 6.5 hectare vineyard in Canalicchio (Montalcino) and an additional 5 hectares in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, where Mr. Rossi was presciently the first to plant vines in earnest. The estate, now run by vineyard manager/director Alberto Passeri and winemaker Vittorio Fiore, makes five wines, all made entirely from Sangiovese Grosso, the only grape planted on the property:
- Poggio Gli Angeli— made from young vines in Castelnuovo, in the Brunello zone but not registered as such. This wine spends 6 months in Slavonian botti.
- Rosso di Montalcino— sourced from the same sites as the Brunello, is aged for two years, one of which is in Slavonian oak casks.
- Birba— an IGT Toscana that is made from 100% Sangiovese; it starts as a Brunello di Montalcino and is then declassified. The only difference is that it sees about a year in barrique before moving to large Slavonian botte.
- Brunello— a blend of both the Canalicchio and Castelnuovo vineyards. The grapes are kept cool for 7-8 days before fermentation, which lasts up to 15 days. The wine is then transferred to large 50-100hl casks and is aged for three years, racked twice a year, then bottled. It is then aged for an additional year before release. This is classic Brunello; focused and flavorful, with hints of violets and berries on the nose, a rich, velvety texture and excellent acidity.
- Brunello gli Angeli (Riserva)— made in select years, this comes entirely from a one hectare parcel of old vines from the original Biondi-Santi site, located between 270 and 320 meters above sea level. This hillside vineyard occupies a privileged position at the estate and consistently offers beautiful and healthy fruit. The wine is kept for 4 years in 50 hectoliter Slavonian oak casks and kept for an additional year in bottle before being released.