At Casadei, a winery located in the upper part of Maremma, near Livorno, something remarkable is taking place. A winery born after careful research of the terroir and land quality by the master winemaker Stefano Casadei in cooperation with Sonoma wine-maker Fred Cline. A blend of Tuscany and American expertise, with the objective of crafting some outstanding wines from international varieties like Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Each parcel (Filare, in italian) is followed and cured with love and carefulness. As a winemaker, Stefano went deep into questioning his relationship with nature and the impact his work has on the environment. That's why his crafts follow his own Bio protocol, called Biointegrale.
The Biointegrale protocol represents an evolution of the more common bio certified operations and protocols, it takes the environmental preservation and awareness effort to the next level: for harvest, tractors were deprecated, and Comtois horses took their place. Being gentle both on soil and emissions. No more pesticides, but ducks and sheeps live freely in the vineyards, keeping infesting insects and weeds in check.
For Stefano to make wine one must keep it simple: wine is an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting pressed grapes. So he does. All his wines ferment naturally, with no added yeasts, in amphorae buried deep into the cellar's heart. Stefano takes the most out of his technical knowledge (he graduated in Enology and Viticulture at the University of Bordeaux).
His bottles, once opened, do release all this passion and attention to the smallest detail. The ancestral and deep connection with nature and artisanship feels so good. A work of art, made to enrich life and amuse the palate.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your winery?
After the important experience I had with Sangiovese, I decided to try my hand at an international project, among international varieties, in a context where "ethics" and "aesthetics" could coexist.
So I wandered around the Maremma and identified Suvereto as the right place to develop my project, a land with a high mineral content upstream and alluvial soils downstream. Having laid the foundations for my project, I met Fred Cline, an important wine producer and owner of an agricultural and hospitality empire in Sonoma, California, at a lunch. There was an immediate connection, almost as if we had spent our childhood together as friends.
The connection was all the more motivated by the same way of interpreting wine, the same respect for nature and the same pride in our families. Fred Cline was in Italy looking for a project to implement. The more we talked, the more we realised that the project Fred wanted to do in Italy was the same one I was doing in Suvereto.
So it was natural to create Tenuta Casadei and join forces to make high quality wines in a context rich in biodiversity, with the idea of applying Biodynamic techniques. In short, a place where the focus is on nature as a whole, respect for the plants, for the people who work there and for the animals.
How do you normally enjoy drinking wine?
I have two forms of drinking and tasting: the professional form, which I love to share with my collaborators who work with me every day to achieve certain results and discuss our products, made up of lots of in-depth analysis and attention. Or tasting in a more convivial manner with friends, where I prefer to drink simpler, easier-to-drink wines.
Where is your winery located and what are the unique features of wines from your geographical location?
At the Casadei estate, given the brightness and temperatures in Suvereto, and the soil and climate conditions, we decided to cultivate international varieties that could blend in perfectly with the territory and the environment: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Syrah, Moscato, Ansonica and Viognier. Our work rewards us by achieving perfect ripening of the grapes and wines that convey elegance, finesse and an excellent acid profile.
How does local history and culture influence your lifestyle and winemaking?
Since 2013, our biodynamic approach to work has evolved into a new ethical protocol developed through a technical-scientific committee and the University of Florence. This gave rise to the Biointegrale philosophy, encapsulated in a decalogue through which all my wineries are conducted. In order to make them understood, I focus on three points that I hold dear:Reduce the manipulation of the raw material when working with it. Absolutely no chemistry, both in the cellar and in the vineyard, favouring microbiology. Trying to use resources, both labour and companies, as locally as possible in order to redistribute wealth locally;Avoiding soil compaction in order to favour the richness of the soil and facilitate the deepening of roots. That's why horses are so important to us: they prevent the soil from being compacted and the land remains intact, the roots have the chance to go deeper. This is a fundamental point in our idea of farming. And then animals generally bring positive energy into a business and also bring greater attention to detail.
What is your best memory of winemaking, so far?
Definitely the experience I started having from 2009 to 2011 with spontaneous fermentation and vinification in amphora. It's a fascinating world that brings you face to face with microbiology, an invisible population that actively participates in the qualitative outcome of wine.
Can you tell us about the first wine you ever made?
The first wine made in self-sufficiency was the Sangiovese Chianti Rufina Lastricato 1999. A wine with great elegance, great structure, able to age for decades in the bottle. Incidentally, together with a delegation of sommeliers, we tasted it a few months ago and had excellent feedback. A wine that reflects the 1999 vintage.
Tell us what wine represents for you?
Wine for me is humanity, memory, history, territory, I would like to say in one word it is "Life". Whoever makes wine should not think about the logic of the market, but think about the logic of the best expression of the product in that place and in that year. Unfortunately, man often makes wine following the rules of the market.
What do you think about the future of sustainable winemaking?
I can tell you the future I see for myself and my companies: I want to continue to make the best possible wine, trying to interpret the territories in the best possible way, with the utmost respect for the raw material, according to cultivation dictated by biodynamic practices.