In 1995, the Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi family of Florence and the Robert Mondavi family of Napa Valley joined forces to achieve a common goal: to create a world class Italian wine. And thus Luce was created.
“It has always been my family’s dream to return to our grandparent’s birthplace and produce world-class Italian wines. We found the perfect partners in the Frescobaldis.” – Robert G. Mondavi
“The goal of our partnership is to produce excellent and unique wines by combining the vision, technical skills, and love of the land that our families share.” – Vittorio Frescobaldi
Today Luce della Vite is owned by Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi. M. Mondavi and his family have a financial interest in it. Lamberto Frescobaldi is director of viticulture + winemaking. The vision remains the same; to pursue the goal, originally set by Vittorio and Robert, of producing excellent and unique wines by combining a clear vision with technical skills and love of the land.
Luce was the first wine ever produced in Montalcino by blending Sangiovese and Merlot grapes. Combining the roundness and suppleness of Merlot with the structure and elegance of Sangiovese seems an obvious idea, but it took two well established winemakers, Lamberto Frescobaldi and Tim Mondavi, to do that in the land of the world renowned Brunello di Montalcino, a wine made strictly from 100% Sangiovese.
The careful selection practiced in the production of Luce gives Lamberto Frescobaldi, enologist for Luce della Vite, the opportunity to take advantage of part of the harvest of Sangiovese and Merlot for the production of Lucente. The composition of Lucente is further complimented with Cabernet Sauvignon. Lucente reveals a typical Tuscan character, with an excellent body, and complex aromas.
With the Luce Brunello Marchesi de Frescobaldi continues the journey of excellence inspired by the uniqueness of the Brunello di Montaltacino regio. The selection process for Sangiovese grapes destined for Luce Brunello is extremely meticulous, as it is for all of our wines. The wines are aged for five years, of which at least two years of which must be carried out in oak barrels.
The Luce Estate & Vineyards
The Luce Estate was founded in 1995 through a collaboration of the Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi families. Located in the area of Montalcino, southwest of the medieval town itself, the estate covers 192 hectares of land, 30 of which are vineyards either newly planted, or already in production. Most of the vineyards were planted in 1977 with 3,500 vines per hectare, while new plantings were added in 1997 and 1999, with a higher density of 6,170. Over the next few years, Luce della Vite plans to add 10 more hectares of vineyards to increase the choice of grapes to be used for Luce.
With altitudes ranging from 350 to 420 meters, the estate is one of the highest in Montalcino. At the higher elevations the soils are rich in “galestro”, or shale, well drained and poor of organic matter, offering ideal conditions for the cultivation of Sangiovese grapes. At the lower altitudes, the soils are richer in clay, perfect for Merlot.
The long, sunny and dry summer seasons, together with the southern exposure of the Luce estate, allow for a slow and thorough ripening of the grapes which yield wines with great concentration and power. The cool and breezy nights help to preserve the grapes’ aromatic complexities.
At the Luce vineyards we embrace the concept of sustainable agriculture to promote the health of the vines, focussing on the use of organic procedures and limiting chemical treatments as much as possible.
Average yields are kept very low, at about 30 hectoliters of wine per hectare, to enhance the character of the varieties and to capture the essence of the terroir. Crop thinning and leaf pulling are standard procedures in the cultivation of the Luce vineyards.
Once they have reached the optimum maturation of sugar, acid and tannins, the grapes are hand picked and carefully transported to the winery. Merlot and Sangiovese usually ripen within 3 to 4 weeks of each other, beginning with the Merlot in mid September. The two varieties are harvested separately, and, after each has undergone alcoholic fermentation and extensive maceration, they are blended together around the end of November.