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Frescobaldi & Gorgona: The Social Project That Reduces Recidivism and Teaches the Values of an Extraordinary Island

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The social project that began in 2012, in collaboration with Italy’s sole remaining island prison,  celebrates its tenth vintage 

June 9th, 2022 – Gorgona, Italy.  Gorgona’s tenth vintage is the milestone of a journey that proves “Yes, we can!”. An adventure which every June brings eager anticipation for the tasting of Frescobaldi’s cru wine from the Family’s eighth wine estate. Established in 1869, the Gorgona project lies on Italy’s last penal colony island. Since 2012, the inmates on the island have been cultivating Vermentino and Ansonica to produce wines of Gorgona, encouraging them to the importance of learning a new, hands-on profession, and restoring faith in the future. The “compelling, wild wine”, Gorgona is infused with a series of emotions, which recovers and redeems the souls allowing for hints of hope.

“We have had the privilege of living here on this extraordinary island for a decade now, and every year our pride in this project increases,” stated Marchesi Frescobaldi President, Lamberto Frescobaldi. “As did the previous vintages,  tenth conveys the island’s one-of-a-kind terroir. Surrounded by its scents and tastes, here in Gorgona there is anything one could wish for: love for this island, man’s loving attention, hope for a better life, the influence of the sea, and this extraordinary environment, all elements that combine resulting in a wine that is inimitable, innately exclusive, a symbol of hope and freedom. It is the very essence of this unparalleled corner of the planet and of our project, a symbol that never stops to fill us with excitement.”

Each year, the Gorgona label is conceived as a “vintage-dedicated” newsletter that communicates a different aspect of the island. Setting foot in Gorgona means discovering its utterly unique biodiversity, its dense Mediterranean land, and pristine sea. Moreover, striking fortifications and a small church dedicated to San Gorgonio, built by Carthusian monks in the 18th-century, witness the Island’s rich cultural past.

The Gorgona 2021 label celebrates the people who made this extraordinary project possible. It extends gratitude to the Institution’s directors and to the civil authorities, to the police and educators, to the project partners and supporters, to the prisoners themselves and to the winemakers. A special thanks goes to those who have shared the story of this project, and that have made this small yet beautiful island a place where many people gathered together for an honourable cause. The label also features a description of the wine, the result of the marriage between man’s labour and the qualities of an unmatched locus.

The 2021 edition furthermore describes the tenth harvest, besides offering tribute to the land, being the smallest out of seven islands that constitute the Tuscan archipelago. When coming to this solitary side of the world, one immediately feels intertwined and connected with nature and the island’s strong feelings.

In harmony with nature and the island’s ground, one rediscovers dignity and hope for the future. Individuals with very different stories, backgrounds, and experiences, here finally speak the same language joining forces and talents for a greater scope, a valid and fair social project that is here for good.

Gorgona is the fruit of a 2-hectare vineyard planted on east-facing, wind protected, iron-rich soils. The vineyard, initially planted in 1999, then renewed and enlarged in 2015 and 2018, is solely growing Ansonica and Vermentino grapes, the only suppliers to the soul of this unparalleled wine, essence of the island terroir. 

Autumn and winter brought normal seasonal temperatures and abundant rainfall, especially in November, recharging groundwater reserves. Budbreak started in the last week of March, slightly early, as it is the norm on the island. Abrupt drops in temperature in early April were tempered by the maritime environment, and vine growth proceeded unimpeded. Persistent rains in May and slightly below-average temperatures in June and July enabled the vines to cope with torrid heat in mid-August, allowing for excellent conditions at the time of harvest. The first Vermentino came in at the end of the first week of September, which enjoyed ideal diurnal range, while Ansonica was picked starting the final week of the month. 

Gorgona 2021 once again is an eloquent expression of its surrounding seas, warm sun, crisp, constant breezes, and the briny breath of the maritime environment.  

Its shimmering straw yellow, flecked with bright gold, cannot fail to delight the eye. A generous bouquet is reminiscent of Mediterranean scrub, broom, lentisk, and wild herbs that meld into hawthorn blossom, chamomile, and freesia; likewise beautifully blended into the overall complex are notes of banana, pineapple, and tropical fruit in general. This aromatic cornucopia concludes on crisp, citrusy notes of grapefruit and citron. An impressively tangy sapidity marks the palate, complementing its vibrant acidity and velvety texture. 

Like the previous vintages, these nuances display a strong bond with the surrounding sea, and for the tenth year in a row, it leads us to dream of, and love even more, this tiny island in the extensive Mediterranean sea.

Gorgona, a white wine of Vermentino e Ansonica, is organically grown and has a limited production of just 9,000 bottles. 

In just seven years, it has conquered international markets, from New York to Tokyo, and, more importantly, the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to taste it. 

THE VISION

 “Frescobaldi for the Social Good” began in August 2012. Before foraying into 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 PROJECT

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 (2012) 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. 

PARTNERS

Andrea Bocelli created the text and signed the bottle label of the 2013 vintage.

“The Tuscan Archipelago is an earthly paradise, with the isle of Gorgona being its pearl of Aphrodite, wild and luminescent. Outwardly, it may seem forbidding, but its fragrances and silences are inexpressibly seductive, and nature here irresistibly overcomes with its force and eternal fecundity… All around are water and salt, messengers of the heavens, anchors of sail-ropes.” (A. Bocelli – 2014) 

Simonetta Doni, with Studio Doni & Associati, one of the very few international wine-label design agencies, donates her talents every year for the label graphics. Together with a highly-qualified team of experts in culture and art, she graphically interprets the characteristics that make the project and its island so distinctive.    

Giorgio Pinchiorri, owner of Enoteca Pinchiorri, one of the most famous Italian restaurants world-wide, participates in the project by utilising his distinctive cuisine to promote appreciation of Gorgona’s tradition of food and wine. 

Argotractors, part of the Gruppo Argo, was founded in 2007 to create a world-class tractor enterprise; it donated a vineyard tractor for use on the island. 

MARCHESI FRESCOBALDI

The Frescobaldi family, which has been making awarded, ultra-premium wines in Tuscany for over 700 years, is one of Italy’s leading wine producers. It passionately combines tradition with innovation and firmly believes in respect for its growing areas and in growing ever higher-quality grapes in its vineyards. It is world-wide recognised for the wines from its estates–Tenuta Castiglioni, Tenuta CastelGiocondo, Tenuta Perano, Castello Nipozzano, Castello Pomino, Tenuta Ammiraglia, Rémole, and Gorgona.

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