The story of Villa Saletta spans centuries. The estate has been owned by just four families throughout its history, all notable in their own unique way. The Gambacorta family consolidated the lands around the estate in the 14th century, before it came under ownership to the Riccardi, a wealthy family from Florence and bankers to the famous and powerful house of Medici. The Riccardi transformed Villa Saletta into a true working estate throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, when it was then passed onto the Castelli family.
By the time the Hands family took ownership almost 20 years ago, the estate had almost entirely fallen to ruin , but they saw the potential to reinstate the tradition of an agriculturally diverse, sympathetically managed and self-sufficient estate.
Winemaking was the first focus of the restoration, and huge investment has been made into renovating old vines and planting new plots according to a detailed understanding of the terroir. By blending traditional techniques and attitudes with the tools of modern agronomy, viticulture at Villa Saletta is now amongst some of the most advanced in Italy.
Whilst many of the viticultural techniques and ideas we use have remained unchanged for centuries, we also use methods less typical of the region.
They only use perfect berries, using small new barrels of Allier French oak with integral fermentation. They also use perlè casks which create a ‘redox atmosphere’. This reduces the amount of oxygen the grapes are exposed to so that first drops of wine develop slowly on the skins. This maintains freshness and aroma whilst extracting colour and roundness for an elegant and supple soft tannin structure.
Once the wine has run off its skins, it goes through a complete malolactic fermentation in new French oak barrels. This converts tart or sharp tastes into softer, more buttery flavours. They are the only Italian producer to do this, the technique being more associated with the Bordelais. They think this gives our wines a finesse not usually associated with the region.
Wines are then aged for at least 24 months in our ageing complex on the eastern slopes of the estate, with testing and tasting taking place throughout the ageing cycle.
The estate is also producing a range of phenomenal wines, some of which are archetypal examples of the Tuscan style, others which, by virtue of technique, are more reminiscent of the finest Bordeaux crus, but with an unmistakable Italian flair.