Interview with Giovanni Folonari

Talking Tuscany, terroir and tradition


Recently, I spent an hour chatting with Giovanni Folonari, the well spoken and knowledgeable 21st century face of the Folonari family. While the Folonari brand was also founded by the family, it was sold long ago so the family could commit themselves to their ever-growing portfolio of fine wine brands.
In the beginning, there was Nozzole in Chianti, but over the years, convinced by the quality of Tuscan terroirs, the Folonari family embarked on an ambitious plan to assemble a stable of estates, with each one representing one of those great terroirs. Brunello, Vino Nobile, Bolgheri, the Maremma; they all form part of the curent day holdings of the Folonari family.

This interview with Giovanni offers fabulous insight into the goings on behind the scenes with the Folonari family, and does so quite candidly.

Chianti and Oak

Giovanni Folonari discusses the beginnings of the family's journey in the fine wine category, and especially in Tuscany. The estates of Cabreo and Nozzole have long been integral parts of their fine wine portfolio. Each property represents a unique take on the wines of Tuscany and the Folonari family's attempt to produce an inclusive portfolio that represents each of Tuscany's great terrors. Brunello, Montepulciano, Chianti, Bolgheri; in each area the family is trying to produce a wine that is distinct and representative of the regional vision.

Giovanni goes into detail discussing the history and style of their Chianti Nozzole and their evolution of style with the swinging pendulum of large and smaller format oak.

On Super Tuscans

Giovanni speaks in more depth about his mid-range wines, in particular his Campo al Mare from Bolgheri and how and why it contrasts with Chianti. He shares some fascinating details about the conditions in Bolgheri, too.

We have a little fun with the idea that Italian wines tend be higher than average in acidity and whether that might be terroir or viticultural and winemaking influences. Giovanni discusses the issue of acidity with refreshing candor and detail.

This segment wraps up with a lively discussion on super Tuscans and their history. All before we even begin to discuss Il Cabreo, the Folonari family's iconic super Tuscan blend.

Tuscan Terroir

Giovanni and I discuss the impact of oak on wine and Sangiovese in particular as we discuss the Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva La Forra. He goes on to discuss his good fortune of having Sangiovese to work with and his take on the grape in all the regions of Tuscany.

We wrap up our chat with Giovanni's insight into the Italian market and how it contrasts with Folonari's export market, with a few words on the critical take on wines today and how they influence producers and consumers alike.

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