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Silvio worked in the wine business in New York until he and his wife Catalina Messana and their family moved back to his family farm, Montesecondo, in the village of Cerbaia in the Chianti Classico zone. Silvio's father purchased the property back in 1963; besides olive groves and forest, there were vineyards whose fruit was sold to the local co-op. Silvio bottled the estate's first wine in 2000 from their vineyards of Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot; they are being replanted over time with massale selection vines. Silvio used chemicals in the vineyard at first but could feel the toxic effects on his body and had converted the farm to organic by 2003; that same year, inspired by a seminar with Savennières's biodynamic icon Nicolas Joly, he began the conversion to biodynamics. Silvio saw a nearly-immediate and marked difference in the balance of his vines and wines; as a result, he stopped selling off any portion of his family fruit in bulk in the 2005 vintage.
There are now two separate parcels, one being the original, fully-organic family property in San Casciano, at a lower altitude on clay and marl soils which yield richer, fleshier wines. Silvio rents, biodynamically farms and lives on another 6-hectare vineyard, about 18 kilometers away in Vignano, at a higher altitude with cooler calcareous soils, surrounded entirely by woods and olive groves; from here come higher-toned, higher-acid wines. Sangiovese from both goes into all of his reds (with the exception of the Rospo). Both properties are geographically in the Chianti zone.
Montesecondo wines have a tendency to run afoul of the powers-that-be in Chianti Classico: while Silvio's methods in the vineyard and cellar yield what many would and do consider pure, classically expressive Sangioveses, the way he gets there and occasionally the actual results (higher acidity, lighter color or darker color, etc.) led to enough issues over time that he bottles only one Classico and the rest of his wines as IGT Toscana. Silvio ferments with native yeasts only and does various-length macerations and aging in a variety of vessels (concrete, barrels, amphorae but with no new oak) . No sulfur is used during élévage, with a touch employed just before bottling if deemed necessary. The emphasis at Montesecondo is on grape and place, best expressed in his opinion through minimal but careful intervention. Montesecondo is an under-the-radar force of quality winegrowing and winemaking in the prominent but variable zone of Chianti Classico, driven by Silvio's close observation of and involvement with his farming and winemaking, both of which are constantly adapted as he experiments with drawing out the best of his terroir and fruit.
Silvio's philosophy is most eloquently illuminated in his own words here:
Check out importer Louis-Dressner's interview with him as well: