Fattoria Le Pupille began its renaissance in 1985 when proprietor Elisabetta Geppetti began revitalizing the property and the vineyards around the town of Pereta in Maremma, the untamed, wild Tuscan coastal region. Determined to make great wine, she enlisted the help of the late Giacomo Tachis, the Father of many great Tuscan wines, and together they replanted vineyards, analyzed soils and plotted the course for yet another masterpiece: Saffredi.
A lot has changed since then. Tachis has passed away. Geppetti has firmly established Fattoria Le Pupille as a leader in the region for producing Morellino di Scansano. In fact, Geppetti has often been called the “Lady of Morellino” and holds the honor of being the first woman ever to be named Director of the Morellino Consorzio.
However, perhaps it was with Tachis in mind that the newest wine from Le Pupille has come to fruition; a pioneering, bold new red created together with Luca d’Attoma and destined to become an example for Maremma to follow.
The wine simply bears the name “Le Pupille” but it is unique for many reasons. For starters, it is 100% Syrah. When I asked Elisabetta what made her think of creating a pure Syrah, she didn’t hesitate. “It was always something I wanted to do from the beginning. When I was younger, I loved the Cote Rotie from Guigal and since Syrah is very adaptive to its environment, I wanted to make a wine with a Mediterranean accent.”
However, the pioneering aspect didn’t stop there. For years Le Pupille has been cultivating Syrah. Since 2000 the parcels of Syrah have been used to produce Le Pupille’s Rosato and also blended into one of the estate’s early drinking red wines, Pelofino. It wasn’t until 2015 that the Syrah was micro-vinified as a stand alone wine. And I mean micro-vinified, as only 250 cases were produced. Geppetti says the reason for waiting 15 years was simple. “To craft a complex Syrah, you need mature vineyards.”
Additionally, Geppetti wanted a neutral vessel for fermentation so they chose clay amphora – called Orci in Tuscan dialect – acquired from Giovanni Manetti of Fontodi to ferment their Syrah. The goal was simple. The mother-daughter team wanted the Syrah to speak clearly and while the clay pots allow for very slow oxygenation, they impart almost nothing to the final wine. It is pure. It is transcendent.
Le Pupille is made from two distinct vineyard parcels totaling only 5 acres. Grapes from the cooler vineyard were fermented for 8 months in the amphora while the warmer vineyard went into barrique for 25 days. After being blended, the wine was aged another 10 months in barrique prior to bottling.
The 2015 Le Pupille is a dark purple color. Given the youth of the wine, we decanted it for almost 2 hours before dinner and paired it with grilled flat iron steak and broccoli rabe.
On the nose, the wine is very expressive with ripe black fruits, crushed stone, blue flowers and new leather aromas. It’s different and exciting. On the palate, this suave red displays loads of crushed black stone fruit, Mediterranean scrub, leather and smoke. Full bodied, with bands of fruit that coat your palate but remain silky and elegant at once. An incredible debut effort and one that is certainly worth following. Should age nicely for a decade. 95 points.
Geppetti has 3 more vintages of Syrah aging and she is quick to explain that they are still working to master the use of the amphora which can be rather tricky. By comparison to the 2015, the recent 2018 was only left in Amphora for five months given the tendency for amphora fermented wines to easily oxidize. “For us, 2015 is just another new beginning.”
A new beginning indeed. Salute!