02-Planeta_manchette_175x100
Allegrini 2024
PROTAGONISTS

“In an extraordinarily beautiful place like Tuscany, designing means taking a step backward”

Architect Marco Casamonti, who signs the new Poggio Antico winery in Montalcino, tells WineNews: “it is the landscape that is the real protagonist”

“If you are an extraordinarily beautiful place like Tuscany designing a winery means taking a step back: the architect must have an attitude of great humility and understand that he must work to contemplate what is around. We in Tuscany, and in Montalcino in particular, must not attract, but cast our gazes toward the landscape”: architect Marco Casamonti of Studio Casamonti & Partners, who signs the design of the new winery in Poggio Antico, in the Brunello territory (after having designed the award-winning one of “Antinori in Chianti Classico”, which, in 2022, was awarded the title of “most beautiful winery in the world” by the World’s Best Vineyards Competition), tells WineNews. “The architect has to enhance the context in which he works, and sometimes, if the context is of extraordinary beauty, the more he stands on tiptoe, the better”, Casamonti continues. “Making a signature winery actually means making simple projects: here the landscape is already highly complex and rich in biodiversity, among cypresses, olive trees, holm oaks and vineyards, so you cannot challenge complexity. You have to take a step back and work instead with the utmost rigor, leaving to nature this extraordinary explosion of colors and visions with which you cannot compete”.
Marco Casamonti, professor at the Faculty of Architecture in Genoa and a world-renowned professional, has also signed several projects abroad, particularly in Asia, such as the Shangri-La winery in Penglai, China, and the Vietnamese Ba Na Hills. “There are contexts”, he says, “in which the architect can do a “muscle test”, and this is blessed, because maybe you are a degraded context (and this is, of course, not the case in Montalcino), but there are contexts of extraordinary beauty in which “muscle tests” are harmful and should absolutely be avoided, so if there is a philosophy that we try to export to the world, it is that you have to enhance the context, and when faced with a context of particular beauty have the ability to reduce your own vision, because the vision already exists and it is that of the landscape”.
“Designer wineries will become more and more popular”, Casamonti continues, “because it is a high value-added sector, and because today's wine lover wants to go and see where the wine is produced and how it is made, which must be made known and must attract people. When people know the place where the wine is produced, then they love it and appreciate it, because wine is linked to its terroir: so you don't just sell grape juice, that would be trivial, but a context, a territory, a knowledge, a professionalism and a capacity for composition. Wine belongs precisely to the arts of composition”.
The winery at Poggio Antico will be, following the concept dear to the architect, “a project of contemplation of the landscape, characterized by a great simplicity: a large terrace with a grape arbor to look at Mount Amiata, nothing but a podium from which to contemplate a wonderful territory. Then everything will take place underground, deep underground, where the cooler goes, where the wine matures and where the work is done. The 17 degrees that are needed for the wine to age in the barrique cellar are given naturally and freely by the earth: we have to go and get the energy there where it is offered to us by mother nature”, Casamonti says. The project, which was presented today in Florence at the headquarters of the Region of Tuscany, in the presence of President Eugenio Giani (who welcomed architect Marco Casamonti’s wish for the laying of the first stone in February 2025, ed.) is part of the investment program strongly desired by Belgian entrepreneur Marcel Van Poecke, who, with his company Atlas Invest, acquired Poggio Antico in 2017. The foundation stone is scheduled to be laid in 11 to 15 months.
In Casamonti’s vision, the Poggio Antico winery “will be a kind of “stylobate” (the plane on which the colonnade in the Greek temple rests, ed.), without the temple, because the temple is the landscape. It is a “stilobate” that allows people to go and look in the direction of Monte Amiata and see the landscape of Tuscany through the vineyards, so the real feature is that it is a winery that allows people to see, rather than a place that is looked at and observed”. The winery fits into a place that is already anthropized, “and this”, Casamonti explains, “goes in the direction of the urban planning tool that the municipality of Montalcino is approving, that is, the idea that you have to develop the territory, but not in the virgin areas or in the middle of the vineyards, but there where it has already been built, where the territory is already anthropized. If you do this obviously you preserve the natural landscape, so you have to make sure that human activity is concentrated in specific points and not spread out”.
“We wanted to create something that would have no impact on the territory, without going to occupy further areas with constructions other than those already built”, Pier Giuseppe D’Alessandro, Poggio Antico’s managing director, explains to WineNews. “The new winery (which also sees the collaboration in the project, as coordination and general project management, of Wino of Florence, one of the most prestigious and specific engineering firms in the construction of wineries in Italy and beyond, ed.) will be a unique environment for Montalcino, but whose uniqueness is given by the winery's very location. A terrace with a view from Mount Amiata to the Tyrrhenian Sea, which will be open to the local community, of which we have always been a part. The meeting with architect Casamonti was immediately a happy union because, interpreting our needs, he created a simple and linear project, but at the same time unique, wonderful and environmentally conscious. The idea of building a new winery was born from two needs. The first, more “technical”, is related to the new approach we are taking in managing our work, which requires smaller winemaking volumes in order to be able to identify each individual soil unit of the winery with its own wine. The second need is to make the steps from grape to bottle more rational by adopting a total gravity system in the production process”.
Already numerous investments have been made by the winery, which is in an important phase of change, also interpreted by the release, in spring, of the new label “Vigna I Poggi” 2019, the first single vineyard. Poggio Antico stands on the highest vine-covered hill in the entire appellation, south of the village of Montalcino. At an average altitude of 500 meters, 37 hectares of vineyards are cultivated. The soils have an ancient and composite nature: limestone and marlstone rocks that push the Sangiovese to give its best, translating into complex and elegant wines.

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