All in the Family, Succession at Tenuta Fiorano with Prince Alessandrojacopo
“In 1998, he told me everything about the Tenuta Fiorano estate. He told me everything about the vineyard, the wine, the vines. The method of producing wines,” said Alessandrojacopo Boncompagni Ludovisi, of his cousin Prince Alberico. “So, in this moment, I started this relationship with my cousin, getting closer each year.” After he tore up his vines, he began to recognize himself in his younger cousin. And while no one can say at exactly what point Prince Alberico realized he would pass his estate to Prince Alessandrojacopo, in retrospect, the latter realized that he was being tested and trained.
Farming organically since the 1940’s, Prince Alberico had a love of the nature, from the cereals and vines on his estate, to the soils that supplied pasture to his sheep. It was this passion that he saw in his younger cousin, that made him realize he had a successor. He rotated his crops regularly and used only natural fertilizers – during the industrious times of post World War II- on his 200ha estate. “I continued the organic practices,” said Prince Alessandrojacopo, “but I don’t talk about it, because it’s natural for me. It’s always been this way.”
Born in 1918, Prince Alberico was an introvert who protected his cellars and wines, even though they had captured the attention of Luigi Veronelli, a wine critic and journalist of notable fame from Milan. “Many people helped my cousin during his life,” said Prince Alessandrojacopo. “Tancredi Biondi-Santi and Luigi Veronelli. He was one of the most important persons in food and wine. He always spoke well about the Fiorano wines. He loved the wines.” However, he continued, “My cousin was very reserved. The only people he frequented were my father and me.”
Once divorced, Prince Alberico had little contact with his ex-wife and daughter. In 1966, his only daughter married Piero Antinori, a reputable winemaker in Chianti. Some say that it was this relationship that led the Prince to tear up his vines in 1995, because he couldn’t bear the thought of anyone misinterpreting his work. “When I knew that my cousin wanted to take out all of the vineyards, I was surprised. It was unbelievable.”
For many years, Alberico had a very close relationship with my father. Working together from 1999 until his death, Prince Alberico entrusted his life’s work to his cousin. “He chose me,” said Price Alessandrojacopo. “He gave me everything. He told me which is the best position for the vineyards. Initially, we replanted the original three hectares. A few years later, we added two more hectares, even if my cousin, based upon his experience, was concerned about being able to give the same care to a larger vineyard.”
Following, the precise instructions of Prince Alberico, Alessandrojacopo planted Grechetto and Viognier in the place of Malvasia di Candia and Semillon. In 2002/2003, Prince Alessandrojacopo produced his first vintage, and with the 2006 vintage, he made his wines available to the public.
Located less than ten miles outside of Rome, the historic estate is a slice of paradise dotted with olive trees, a church and a villa, and pastures for sheep to graze. But here, it’s the terroir of the cellar and soil that count. “The terroir is so important,” he said, “it has parts of volcanic soil. It’s very important for the minerality of the wine. You can see in the soil mica, it’s very near to the sea, and every day there is some wind. Fiorano is also near the Castelli Romani. From the estate you can see the Basilica of St. Peter in Roma.”
In the ancient cellar, all practices have also remained unchanged, including the individuals who work in the vineyards and cellar. “The same people who worked on the wines with Principe Alberico, make the wines now,” he said. Including one man who attended school on the estate and has participated in nearly 50 harvests. “It’s beautiful. It’s his life. He is so happy to work at Tenuta.”
“In the historical cave,” Prince Alessandrojacopo continued, “it’s antique with tuffeau materials. It’s so fantastic because the temperature is always very constant. We make the wine inside here, like Alberico. We have the cellar upstairs, and downstairs is the cave. I start upstairs and after a few months, the wine with gravity goes downstairs to the [neutral] barrels. I think it’s so important, because there’s no pump from the barrels upstairs to the barrels downstairs. Inside the historical cellar, there are many bottles of old vintages, but also new ones.”
In the future, in the tradition of Fiorano, Prince Alessandrojacopo hopes to plant a few more hectares. “Not to produce more wine,” he explained, “but to select for more quality. I’d like to produce no more than 8,000 bottles for each label.” But he’d also like to add more livestock. “In the past, Fiorano was very important for livestock. It was very famous. I’d like to introduce it again.”
Grateful for personal connection between these two men, we realize that Tenuta Fiorano would have gone the way of Prince Alberico without their shared passion. “He saw that I was always at the estate. I stayed over there. He saw my passion for the agriculture. He was close with me. He gave me many indications and after many years, I understood why he was telling me, ‘Look at this, look at the archives of Fiorano.’ So I read the archives of Fiorano and after many years, I understood everything that he told me. There was a motive.”