Founded in 1998, the Icario estate extends over 51 hectares (22 of vineyards) at an altitude of 450 meters. In 2015, the winery was purchased by Dr. Helmut Rothenburger (an Austrian industrialist) and an entire overhaul of the property was begun. Yields were cut by up to 50% and substantial sums were spent acquiring new barrel stock for the cellar. In addition, famed Italian enologist Franco Bernabei (Felsina, Banfi, Selvapiana, Sartori and many others) was hired to direct the winemaking activities with particular attention paid to increasing the quantity and quality of Prugnolo Gentile (Sangiovese) in the final blend. Montepulciano is a medieval hill town located 48 km south east of Siena in central Italy. It is most famous for its production of wine, which has been made here since Etruscan times. More recently (since the 1920's), that wine has come to be known as Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (more on the name in a moment). Icario uses precision viticulture, which calls for the drastic reduction of chemical agents, leaf thinning of vines to favour air circulation, and constant monitoring of plant water levels. They also grow legumes in the vineyard rows and use mulch to keep the soil fertile. They have even modified their pruning to improve the health of the vine.Icario vineyard soils are divided over two macro areas. At the higher elevation (400-500m) soils are primarily tuff and sand, while at the lower elevations (300m) there is a higher percentage of clay. Tuff and sand are excellent for growing Sangiovese (or Prugnolo Gentile as it is called in Montepulciano), while soils with clay are more suitable for international varieties such as Merlot.
Under new ownership, the 2015 has been completely transformed, relative to earlier vintages. Famed enologist, Franco Bernabei has decided to cut yields in half, employ new barrique in the wine’s maturation, and determined that the Sangiovese should represent 90% of the blend, rather than 80% as in earlier versions of this wine.
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