The Gorgona wine is a result of Frescobaldi’s social reform project launched in 2012 on Italy’s last-remaining prison island, established over 150 years ago
Gorgona, July 2 2020 – The eighth vintage of Tenuta Frescobaldi’s Gorgona has debarked. Every year, wine-lovers eagerly await the month of June, when they will again have the pleasure of savouring the cru wine made on Italy’s last prison island, founded in 1869. The inmates there have been helping produce this blend of Vermentino and Ansonica since 2012, all in the hope of redirecting the course of their own lives by learning a profession, using their time productively, and believing in a better future. Their wine, “appealing and wild” at the same time, conveys redemption, suggests a desire for recovery, and is emblematic of hope, all amidst a myriad of emotions.
Addressing the inmates on Gorgona, Marchesi Frescobaldi President Lamberto Frescobaldi’s message is always “Take pride in your creation, since every bottle exhibits your labour and your longing for renewal. Every year increases my own pride in this project. Around us here on Gorgona, surrounded by its scents and tastes, is everything one could want: love for this island, man’s loving attention, the influence of the sea, and this extraordinary environment, all elements that combine to bring forth a wine that is inimitable, innately exclusive, a symbol of hope and freedom. In a word, it is the very quintessence of this corner of our planet and of our project, but a symbol too that never ceases to pour out excitement.”
The island’s 2019 growing year started off with a winter of lower than average rainfall, but the rain picked up during the spring, particularly in May, which was cool yet mild. June, July, and August brought the island heat, but scattered, well-paced showers prevented any stress to the vines, and at harvest, the grapes were ideally ripe, healthy, and sound. Vermentino was the first to come in, in the first week of September, which was marked by optimal day-night temperature differentials, perfect conditions for slow, complete ripening, and the reason that the Ansonica grapes were picked during the last week of the month.
Gorgona 2019, appealing and wild at the same time, stands out for its vibrant, deep straw yellow color, with gold highlights. It releases a bouquet that is generous and complex, but judiciously so, opening to a lively dance of white-fleshed fruit, which immediately segues into the sensual, enveloping wild herbs classic to the island, such as curry plant and rosemary. The nearby sea not only heightens the wine’s aromatic complexity, but gives it a remarkable crispness and vein of minerality as well. It boasts an enviably smooth, enfolding entry, as well as an unbelievable harmony on the palate, a duet between its acidity and savoury fruit. The near-endless finish is stylishly elegant.
The label too, is exclusive and one-of-a-kind. Physically sealed to convey Gorgona’s inaccessibility, it opens to reveal the beautiful characteristics of the island. Each year’s label is unique, but each is conceived as a “limited edition” newsletter that communicates a different aspect of the island. The Gorgona 2019 version describes its marine biodiversity. Gorgona lies within the Pelagos Sanctuary, a marvellous area of the sea that was established by an agreement between France, Italy, and the Principality of Monaco. The small section around the island contains an amazing variety of marine fauna, including almost all the Sanctuary’s Cetacea, from the smallest to the largest, and even the majestic sperm whale.
Produced from organically-grown Vermentino and Ansonica grapes, Gorgona has a limited production of just 9,000 bottles. In its seven-year life, it has conquered international markets from New York to Japan, and those who have been fortunate to have tasted it eagerly look forward to each vintage.
“Frescobaldi for the social good” began in August 2012. Before it involved wine production, it was a multi-year project involving collaboration with the authorities of the penal colony, whose objective was to get the inmates involved in practical viticultural work. Under the supervision of Frescobaldi agronomists and winemakers, the inmates restored and cultivated a one-hectare vineyard on the island, to which over the years Frescobaldi added another 1.3 hectares of vines.
The Gorgona project was launched in August 2012, fruit of a collaboration between Frescobaldi and Gorgona, Europe’s only remaining island-penitentiary. The inmates spend the final period of their detention here, working and living in contact with nature, creating for themselves a professional means of re-joining the workforce and the community at large. The project took root in a small vineyard lying in the heart of an amphitheatre high over the sea; its goal was to enable the inmates to gain personal, hands-on, professional experience in the field of viticulture. Under the supervision of Frescobaldi agronomists and winemakers, a few rows of organically-grown Sangiovese and Vermentino Nero yielded Gorgona Rosso, with the 2015 vintage, which matured in large terracotta jars. With additional plantings in 2015, that vineyard has grown today to almost two and a half hectares of Vermentino and Ansonica, which now produce Gorgona, the perfect expression of the uniqueness of this corner of earth and the work of man, and eloquent symbol of hope and freedom.
STAGES OF THE PROJECT
In May 2013, the first vintage of Gorgona (2013) was submitted to the authorities in Rome, and in September Lamberto Frescobaldi presented magnum number 0 to Giorgio Napolitano, President of Italy.
In June 2014, Frescobaldi signed a 15-year contract for collaboration with the administration of the penal colony, and the winery hired and paid two inmates to work in the Gorgona vineyard.
In February 2015, under supervision by Frescobaldi winemakers, inmates planted another hectare of Vermentino, to involve more inmates in the viticultural work and to obtain, in another four years, a better-quality wine. The total hectares thus rose to 2.3.
In June 2018, the sixth vintage of Gorgona was bottled, 2017, in an edition of 9,000 bottles. The bottle label focused on the island fauna, which was perfectly adapted to the island’s biodiversity: wild rabbits, peregrine falcons, and seagulls, who chose Gorgona as their nesting place.