Allegrini 2018

Brunello Cucinelli and the first wine produced in the Solomeo vineyard: “a tribute to Mother Earth”

WineNews guest of the enlightened entrepreneur and “king of cashmere” in the presentation, in Milan, of Castello di Solomeo’s Rosso

“I am fascinated by the earth, because I come from the earth and have lived in the earth. And I’ll tell you this: yesterday there were some plowed fields that gave off a fascinating scent, and I told my granddaughter that we were going to go for a run on the sod, because it’s too easy to run where it’s clean and when you’re balanced. It is this attachment to the land that drove me to make wine. I started with a friend who worked with me, a few bottles: we tasted it and it was good, although I didn’t believe it. Because I come from the peasant culture of my father, who made almost the baddest wine in the world. But when I brought our wine to the table, my whole family noticed that something had changed”. Words from Brunello Cucinelli, “enlightened” entrepreneur and “king of cashmere”, in the presentation of Rosso del Castello di Solomeo last night at an “autumn dinner”, or “of gratitude”, as he called it, of which WineNews was a guest at the Istituto dei Ciechi in Milan, featuring the first wine produced in the beautiful vineyard of Solomeo - 9. 000 bottles of a Bordeaux blend from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese grapes, vintage 2018 - and the new season’s oil, which, however, the designer has been producing for some time.
Cucinelli himself recalled: “we started, a few years ago, to make oil, and every year we got so-so. They told me, then, to call Giovanni Batta the “king of oil”. I did. But he told me that when he turned 70, he would stop, and I asked him if it was because he had made too much money. No, he replied, but I quit anyway. And I told him then that I would guarantee to buy all the extra oil not sold if he, in return, would “educate” our young people to produce the best oil. Batta is one of the world’s greatest oil producers, who has received many awards, but does not show it. Even today, at the threshold of 80 years old, he still has not stopped, because he is a master, he cannot”.
Returning from fashion to wine, as he anticipated to WineNews back in 2020, the new project of Cucinelli, a multifaceted and charismatic character, torn between the luxuriousness of his top-quality made-in-Italy cashmere and his constant inspiration to St. Francis, the Saint of Assisi who, the son of wealthy textile merchants, made poverty, by choice, one of his founding traits, could only be born from the vineyards of Solomeo, just a few kilometers from Perugia, in the Umbria land of Italy’s patron saint and great wines, where his entrepreneurial adventure began and today is the heart of his family, business and spiritual life, in the name of a new “Humanistic Capitalism”, with man and nature at the center of the model of life and work, of which he is a fervent supporter. “I am fascinated by monastic life, you know”, the designer said, “and the Benedictine monks made these large plantings of olive trees that we still have, because oil is a gift. When we did the new planting in Solomeo, we put the olive trees in a circle and far enough apart so that you could see the view, trying to take care of the beauty first”. Likewise arranged is the five-hectare vineyard in the Parco della Bellezza, which is also made up of other crops and is among the “dreams” realized by the entrepreneur and his family, with the Brunello and Federica Cucinelli Foundation, in Solomeo, transformed, with a restoration project that really has few equals in Italy, into the “Borgo dell’Armonia”, in tune with the nature that surrounds it, and enclosing places that represent special stages of a journey through history, culture, art, nature and landscapes - including the Castle that gives its name to the wine - surrounded by the “Forest of Spirituality”.
Continuing his tale at the dinner signed by the Cerea brothers’ tristellato restaurant Da Vittorio but with a “Perugian menu” for “friends” journalists and experts in wine and oil, Solomeo, investors and analysts - from Natalia Aspesi to Milena Gabbanelli, from Barbara Stefanelli to Luciano Ferraro, from Carlo Verdelli to Gianluca Vacchi, to name just a few - invited to the Istituto dei Ciechi in Milan because it is a “place that represents spirituality, intimacy and gratitude”, “after the first experiments”, Cucinelli recalled, “we decided to make a wine to give dignity to our land, planting a small vineyard, but as the great architects of the Renaissance taught us, fascinating just to see it”. As with the oil, “I was told to turn to Riccardo Cotarella, one of the best winemakers in the world. The first year I wanted to buy wine to label. He told me no, that I should trust him because we would produce it ourselves. And so we did: four years later, today we offer it in this evening of gratitude. Because if we have produced this wine, it is also thanks to the listing, without which we would not have had the opportunity to do so many things in our company. It’s been 10 years since the listing, and we are fascinated by it, because we are more international, desirable, and I think it also makes a business more long-lived. Now with wine we will make some money, not a lot. But if we don’t sell pullovers, oil and wine, we can’t do it”, he said wryly.
Wine that, today, “is a symbol of a territory, of a producer, but also of love and innovation”, according to Cotarella, “because there is no product of agriculture that can represent territorial transversality and biodiversity like wine. Every country has its bell tower, has its wine, and has its love. And this project lives on that. Castello di Solomeo was not created to make big markets, but as we were also emphasizing with WineNews and its director Alessandro Regoli”, he explained, addressing those present at the “autumn dinner” or “of gratitude”, “to show that from a territory to which great value has been given as Brunello Cucinelli has done, it is possible to “receive in return” excellent products, and vice versa. This wine will be a flag for Solomeo and for Umbria, but it will also show how generous a territory can be to those who know how to know it and put it in a position to produce well. It has only one flaw, it is still young, which is why it will age for many years”.
Finally, the message that, on every occasion and as always, Cucinelli addresses to young people, “who work in our countryside fascinated by learning the trade for their future. But we need to restore moral dignity to their work, and also economic dignity, because who would send their child to hoe an olive grove for 600 euros a month? We are trying to do that, now we will also do it with wine”.

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