Nothing about Luigi Frangiosa’s simple brick winery prepares the visitor for the delightful surprises that lie within. The first treat lies just beyond the winery’s solid wooden door. Only upon entering the winery does it become apparent that what appears from the outside to be a modest one story building is really a multi level structure that descends several stories into the hill upon which the winery is constructed. Below ground are a meticulously tended cellar and ageing room, just chock full of every size and type of barrel and tank – all of which are scrubbed clean and impeccably maintained.
When complimented on the spotless state of his winemaking facility, the warm, unassuming Frangiosa dismisses such comments by recalling how he started making wine in his garage, laundry room, and every other nook and cranny in his house that his wife consented to give up during harvest time, providing he kept their home clean. Consequently, keeping his long dreamed of winery squeaky clean is now just second nature. “She’s a good woman,” Luigi was quick to add when recounting his story. What some men and women won’t do to assuage their mates’ passions!
Surprisingly, the 40 something Frangiosa only began bottling his own wine in 1996, after spending his entire life tending vines at the noble houses of Vino Nobile. La Ciarliana takes its name from a small chapel near the majestic hill town of Montepulciano and Frangiosa alludes to the fact that his estate’s name is testament to the great leap of faith he made when he fashioned his first Vino Nobile in 1996. Until that time Luigi had not made wine commercially. He was vineyard manager for Carpinetto and several other key producers in the Vino Nobile DOCG, positions he still holds today, despite the enormous success of his own winery. As of last count Frangiosa admits to overseeing more than 100 hectares (220 acres) of Vino Nobile vines, including his family’s own holdings, which cascade down the hillsides just out the back door of the winery. However, it is not until one actually steps out the rear door of La Ciarliana and onto a spacious flower bedecked terrace that the length and breath of this property comes into true focus. Here one beholds a great panorama of vines as they course up and down steep undulating hills that recall the ancient beauty and rhythm of Tuscany.
However, as engaging and intriguing as the architecture, location, and personal story of this small jewel of a property may be, it is truly Luigi Frangiosa’s outstanding wines that provide the greatest treats of all. And at the top of this estate’s hierarchy are the truly noble Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines Frangiosa fashions, but only in vintages he deems worthy. In addition, he crafts a wonderful Super Tuscan IGT offering called San Pellegrino and a light, but excellent Rosso di Montepulciano. All the wine at La Ciarliana is made by Luigi himself. “If there is a mistake, there is no one else to blame,” he admits sheepishly. “I make the wine, and my family owns the vineyards I tend.” With these statements in mind we can surely count on Luigi’s passion for wine remaining his avowed vocation. Salud!