Il Feuduccio

An hour-and-a-half drive east of Rome, Italy’s bustling capital, is a landscape so restful and untouched you wonder if it belongs to the same country – let alone the same century. Green valleys, snow-capped mountains, the Adriatic Sea about twelve miles eastwards: this is where the village of Orsogna and the estate of Gaetano Lamaletto are located. Signor Lamaletto was born in a tiny village just 2.5 miles away from here, though he left early on to become a self-made businessman in South America, working in the ceramics business. Married to Maria, also 100% Abruzzese, success and prosperity abroad only heightened the couple’s loyalty to Abruzzo. In 1995, the Lamalettos purchased a vast tract of outstanding hillside vineyards in the region’s best appellation, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Southerly exposed at 450 meters (1,480 feet) above sea level, the property is equidistant from Abruzzo’s finest beaches and ski resorts, at the foot of Mount Maiella (2,793 meters, 9,163 feet high). The winery itself is spectacular: built entirely underground, it consists of five floors that were dug into the rock. Each floor is 1,500 square meters (16,146 square feet) and the heart of the operation (vinification, barrel and barrique cellars and bottle storage) is 14 meters (46 feet) beneath the vineyards. Surface under vine totals 133 acres (54 hectares) on sandy/clayey/silty terrain. Microclimate is ideal, with very cool nights and warm days, and the vineyards are very well drained. Density is 1,800-2,050 vines per acre, yielding maximum 1.8 kilograms (3.9 pounds) per vine and they produce an average of 100,000 bottles a year. Clones were selected after painstaking soil analysis, plot by plot. All of the preliminary phases were supervised not only by Gaetano himself, but his son, Camillo Lamaletto and his grandson Gaetano, who currently run the winery. Gaetano will eventually take over the reins when Camillo returns to Venezuela. Rocco Cipollone, who has always been part of the family, is back as general manager, and will also stay on when Camillo leaves, working side by side with young Gaetano and ensuring the continuity of a project born to honor one’s heritage and pass it on to the generations to come.

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