A charismatic man, who lives life with great intent, Andrea Franchetti, the proprietor of both Tenute di Trinoro and Passopisciaro in Sicily, is the nephew of Cy Twombly and the heir to a textile fortune that threads his mother’s line. Described by Jancis Robinson in 2002, as “a youthful Yves Saint Laurent,” Franchetti once ran a restaurant in Rome, before moving on to distribute Italian wines in the U.S., from 1982-86. Before returning to Italy, Andrea went to Bordeaux to learn the art of winemaking from his dear friends, Jean Luc Thunevin of Chateau Valandraud and Peter Sisseck of Domino de Pingus.
In 1992, he landed in the province of Siena, where Tuscany intersects with Umbria and Lazio, a remote region that hadn’t seen vines in years. Always a risk taker, Andrea planted Bordeaux varietals, in lieu of Sangiovese, at high elevations (500-700m) on the slopes of Mount Aniata. Then as now, he practices high density planting (approximately 9,000 vines/ha), and prunes heavily (60%) to produce low yields, while allowing the grapes to linger long on the vines for a growing season that can extend into November. Working with only free run juice and indigenous yeasts, Andrea’s production is quite small, totaling approximately 100,000 bottles a year.
Speaking of how his methods have changed over the years, Franchetti said, “I still look for concentration and low yields. I bleed the tanks and I don’t like wood.” And while the 1997 Tenuta di Trinoro saw 100% new French oak, Andrea now believes that, “You can make more profound wines with less wood. My barrels are [now] 10-20% new wood.” If a vintage isn’t worthy, Franchetti has no problem bypassing it, leaving the grapes to the birds on the vines.