Casale del Giglio: story of an island, of a family and of a unique project
Ponza Project, the latest product of Casale del Giglio, the historic winery in the Agro Pontino
Paolo Tiefenthaler, winemaker of Casale del Giglio
And then, thanks to an ambitious research and development work, Casale del Giglio can now boast the primacy of having identified and matured the unexpressed potential of Agro Pontino. The interest to get involved in the field of research and varietal experimentation, combined with the desire to identify always new goals, has found fertile ground over the past years in an ambitious project that involved Ponza Island.
Ponza belongs to the province of Latina and it is the largest of the Ponziane Islands (whose archipelago also includes the islands of Gavi, Zannone, Palmarola, Ventotene and Santo Stefano) and is located in front of the Gaeta Gulf (in the Tyrrhenian Sea), 21 nautical miles south of San Felice Circeo.
In the 30's agriculture was one of the main activities of the island that counted almost 300 hectares cultivated of its 700 hectares of surface, among which about 100 were vineyards. After the 30's and because of the growth of tourism, the lands were slowly abandoned. Today we are witnessing a real recovery of the land and a return to the agricultural tradition, especially by young people. Casale del Giglio is one of the key players of this recovery and the company ownes 2 of the 5 hectares currently cultivated with vineyards on the whole island.
The project that Casale del Giglio started on the Ponza Island was born in 2012, with the help of Antonio Santarelli and Paolo Tiefenthaler and the priceless collaboration of the islanders Tommaso Tartaglione and Gino Scotti. The first step was to identify and recover old vineyards of Biancolella, whose genetic heritage was jealously protected by the elderly. It is a grape variety widespread throughout the Campania coast, particularly in Ischia, brought to the Ponza Island in the mid-700s at the time of the Kingdom of Naples, under the Borbone’s.
At the beginning, the first evidence was the quality and uniqueness of the environment: an ungrafted vineyard where the phylloxera, luckily, has not found a favorable ground. One of the characteristics of this variety is, in fact, the strong adaptability to the very windy climate, unspoilt and perfect for a very healthy environment. The absence of humidity, moreover, contributes to get a healthy grape, allowing then an organic farming. Another crucial aspect to take into consideration was the morphological one. In fact, the terraces created by the farmers from Ponza through the dry-stone walls, offer a biodiversity of insects and plants that are fundamental for the balance of the vineyard.
The volcanic nature of the soil, rich in mineral salts, also gives a significant help, together with the rich Mediterranean scrub that surrounds the entire island.
The real secret of this variety, however, lies in the skins, which are particularly rich in aromas. Traditionally, the vinification of white grapes on the island took place indeed with the permanence of the must with the skins during fermentation. This still partially happens for about 3-4 days, followed by pressing and keeping the must in contact with the yeasts for about 7-8 months before bottling.
The wine produced exclusively with Biancolella grapes takes its name from the Faro della Guardia, built in 1886 on a rock overlooking the sea (112 m. above sea level).
It is a pale yellow wine with slightly greenish reflections; its very intense aroma recalls yellow fruits (peach-apricot) and floral notes of broom and hawthorn. The taste has a strong minerality and a great sapidity, expression of the "volcanic-calcareous" soil. The long and persistent aftertaste offers fruity and citrus notes. Due to its remarkable structure and the integrity of the fruit, it is a wine suitable for aging for several years in bottle.
Through this project Casale del Giglio wants to preserve both the culture and the bond between the people of the island and the land, creating wines as result of a unique and inimitable terroir.
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