Orcia Capitoni Riserva, the discovery of a territory

Orcia river flows in the province of Siena and merges into the Ombrone river. The area is around the village of Pienza, which is famous for cheese made from sheep’s milk. But Orcia is also a denomination of origin that named after the river, and that requires Sangiovese grapes for its wine, as the two most renowned neighbors, not only in the national wine scene. In fact, to the east there is the district of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, while to the west extends the Brunello di Montalcino area. In the Orcia area there is the Marco Capitoni’s winery, a small producer with 6 hectares of vineyards, that has been operating in the region for generations.  The focus of our story is the Orcia Capitoni Riserva, perhaps the most representative wine of the winery.

Sangiovese is by far the most important grape, although Merlot has also been produced for almost a quarter of a century, in line with the DOC Orcia regulations. In the new plots, rootstocks and clones best suited to the characteristics of this micro-area were used, with vines grafted with buds from the company’s massale selection. The vineyard is located 464 metres above sea level, with a planting density of 5,000 vines per hectare, on soil made of layers of sand and clay of marine origin. The vines are cordon trained spur-pruned with yields that do not exceed 50 quintals per hectare, one kilogram per plant of Sangiovese, half of it for Merlot. The fertilisations are targeted and involve the use of manure, while phytosanitary treatments are practiced with copper and sulfur derivatives, as well as with resistance inducers. These favour the development of the natural defenses of the vines from pathogenic microorganisms such as downy mildew and powdery mildew. The limited use of plant protection products, combined with environmentally friendly practices, also promotes biodiversity, which is in line with the vinery’s recent process of organic certification of the vineyard. The grapes are harvested by hand in several passes, using small and perforated baskets and is quickly transported to the winery.

It is in the winery that maximun care is taken in all stages of the transformation, paying attention to the differences in the vintages and the organoleptic characteristics of the wine. The first operation is the choice of the bunches according to their size, then the grapes are destemmed and sorted. Only the berries with the right ripeness will undergo soft pressing and will be fermented spontaneously, with the exclusive use of wild yeasts. The fermentation is carried out for three weeks in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature of 25° C, with manual pumping overs and punching downs. French oak is used for maturation, large barrels for Sangiovese and barriques for Merlot. After maturation the wine is bottled.

We tasted seven vintages of Orcia Capitoni Riserva to try to understand the result of this patient work.

Orcia Capitoni Riserva 2005 (Sangiovese 80% – Merlot 20%) – 14%

It was a cool year, with high levels of rainfall even in the days immediately before the harvest. A careful selection of the grapes has allowed them to be good.

The wine is garnet in colour with ruby glows. It has some enveloping hints, despite being almost 18 years old; we still detect aromas of red fruit jam, followed by balsamic notes, forest floor and mushrooms. In the mouth the wine is characterised by freshness, silky tannins and a very perceivable alcohol level. The finish is long with minty notes.

Orcia Capitoni Riserva 2007 (Sangiovese 80% – Merlot 20%) – 15%

It was e good vintage, with early vegetative growth and a rather late harvest. The grapes ripened slowly and optimally over a long period of time.

It is a wine very similar in colour to the previous sample. On the nose it is complex, with a prevalence of tertiary notes of licorice, coffee, cloves and dark spices. On the palate it combines the surprising acidity balanced by the alcohol and its softness. The wine has a long finish with a licorice aftertaste.

Orcia Capitoni Riserva 2009 (Sangiovese 80% – Merlot 20%) – 13.5%

It was a fresh year during which some agronomic practices were adopted to obtain a lower alcohol level. The wines produced were considered to be below expectations, despite the fact that the sample tasted was characterised by great elegance.

The wine is ruby in colour with garnet reflections on the rim of the glass. On the nose we sense floral aromas of dried violet, followed by notes of blackberry and eucalyptus on the finish. In the mouth it is really balanced, with nice roundness and an integrated alcohol level. The finish is long with balsamic aftertaste.

Orcia Capitoni Riserva 2011 (Sangiovese 80% – Merlot 20%) – 14,5%

The vintage was rainy until the 10th August, with temperatures below average for the season. Since then, there was a real thermal shock, with the second part of summer that was very hot and dry. Certain cases of shrivelled grapes were registered on the vines. Harvest took place in an unusual way and strict selection was necessary to maintain the high quality of the grapes.

The wine is ruby in colour with the colour fading on the rim of the glass. On the nose we sense dark spicy notes of pepper, cloves, licorice on the finish. In the mouth the hardness prevails, with an enveloping freshness and a very well present tannin. This wine should be tasted again, as it shows a remarkable potential for aging.

Orcia Capitoni Riserva 2013 (Sangiovese 80% – Merlot 20%) – 14,5%

The vintage was very cool and characterised by frequent rainfall. This weather pattern caused several interruptions in the vineyard works during the growing season and even during harvesting.

The wine is shiny ruby in colour. On the nose, it has complex scents with fruity aromas of redcurrant and typical floral notes of violet over all, followed by deeper tones of licorice and tobacco. The wine has a minthy finish. It is characterised by refreshing acidity, another clue for its potential for ageing.

Orcia Capitoni Riserva 2015 (Sangiovese 80% – Merlot 20%) – 15%

This was a good vintage, generally warm. Between 8th and 10th August, 100 mm of rain occurred, then several weeks were still characterised by a very hot weather.

The wine is ruby in colour with slight garnet nuances. On the nose, we sense red fruit with hints of sour cherry and black fruit such as blueberries, followed by toasted notes of chocolate and coffee. The finish closes with licorice aroma. In the mouth, the refreshing acidity is surprising and is balanced by the high level of alcohol. The finish is long with a licorice aftertaste.

Orcia Capitoni Riserva 2019 (Sangiovese 85% – Merlot 15%) – 15%

The winter of this vintage was basically mild, followed by a rainy spring with temperatures below the seasonal average. The summer was characterised by prolonged heat.

The wine is ruby in colour, with a deeper colour in the center of the glass. On the nose, the wine has hints of plum, raspberry jam, followed by toasted notes of cocoa and spicy hints of pepper. On the palate there are still firm tannins, high acidity and a long finish on savoury notes and minty flavours. This wine has remarkable potential for ageing; we should wait for it to be at its peak.

In general, the average quality of the samples tasted is impressive. In fact, I struggle to understand which wine impressed me the most, considering that even the 2009 vintage, the result of a “minor” vintage, surprised me a lot for its great elegance. The Orcia Capitoni Riserva is an excellent wine to be paired with structured meat dishes, such as game, but which can also be drunk alone, as a meditation wine. Ultimately a very interesting discovery, a product of a region that I had not tasted before.

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Red Wine

Wine Lover, Sommelier AIS and Marketing Expert

Previously, the wine was white or red for me, sometimes it was the middle ground, sometimes it had bubbles, or it was sweet. Then I started this journey in the knowledge of wine, with its many expressions, types, and the countless territories perfect for growing vines.
I met some wonderful people, with whom it is always possible to be amazed and often excited, while tasting a glass of wine.

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