Pauline Tresise of Slow Food Perth -March 2007
For Baldassarre Lucaroni it is in his heritage passed down from his family where his grandfather and father had land under vines and interests in wine making. Born in Umbria Italy the idea originally gelled for him when he was living in London and promoting, and selling his uncles wines in England in the 1960s. The fashionable drink at the pubs was Beaujolais. It was so expensive, he mused that back home for the price of a glass of Beaujolais in England he could produce 4 litres of wine in Italy. So home he went and planted 100 acres of vines in 3 years.
His uncle Dr. Giorgio Lungarotti, well known oenologist in Italy had established in the early 1960s a vineyard at Torgiano in Umbria. Baldo had learnt from his uncle that there is no need to use all the modern chemicals, as they are destructive to the soil and our health. So why get rid of the proven traditional methods of using Bordeaux mixture and sulphur if they still work! Not long after in 1968 one of the red wines of Lungarotti’s, the Torgiano Rosso was amongst the first red wines in Italy to receive a DOC status. His uncle Dr. Giorgio Lungarotti bought Baldo’s grapes and under the Lungarotti label the wine was now exported to Canada and the United States of America. Baldo went to live in America and worked in liaison with his uncle, exporting the wines from Italy, marketing and promoting the Lungarotti wines. In the late 1970s the wines were named as one of the ‘ten hottest brands’. He is revisiting his past and bringing this to the land in the south west.
Baldo Lucaroni born in Bastia Umbria has journeyed far, and here in the Porongurups in 2000 he bought 1900 acres of land for a family project and sanctuary. The land borders onto the Porongurup National Park. The vineyard is called Montefalco after a town in Umbria where his sister has a vineyard and is the area that Sagrantino, the beautiful indigenous grape variety that has DOCG status is grown and is used to make a unique and exciting wine. Six acres of his land is planted to vines, mainly Sangiovese, with some Nebbiolo, Cabernet Franc and Sagrantino. The first 4 buckets were harvested in 2004 and the first vintage in 2005. All Baldo’s wines are grown on chemically free soil and no added insecticides or herbicides are used in the vineyard. Even the anchor holding posts at the end of the rows have been brought in from Northern N.S.W. Cypress Pines, which are white ant resistant. He wanted to make a headache free wine so no SO2 is used at all; as he says with hand harvesting it is easier to avoid its use. Although organic wines are allowed to use 20ppm (parts per million), legally other wines can use up to 350ppm, although this may now be changing. He wanted to prove to himself that here in Australia he could make a decent wine with lower alcohol, one that would enhance the food not overtake it.
In 2003 Baldo bought 200 guinea fowl to help reduce the bugs, weevils, earwigs, slaters, grasshoppers and locusts, and even though they were incredible bug devourers the guinea fowl proved to be a delicacy for the eagles/falcons. Little did we know when naming the vineyard Montefalco (Mount Falcon) that the falcons would play such a symbolic and significant role.
He is revisiting his past and his goal is to make a Great Southern Wine by experimenting with the grapes he has grown and so finding out which varieties are more suitable for his land.
Montefalco – Porongurups Western Australia