Leonardo Sassi is based in Tarano, Lazio, a beautiful area right on the western edge of the Sabine Mountains, sheltered by the pre-Apennines and adjacent to the border with Umbria. Podere means farm in Italian and Podere Sassi is just that, growing organic fruits, herbs and grains that are destined for the family's historic bakery and restaurant in Rome, just an hour's drive south.
At an altitude of 300m above sea level, the vineyards are rooted in a complex mix of clay, sand and silt from the Plio-Pleistocene period, and are planted with important local varieties Ciliegilio, Cesanese and Malvasia del Lazio, as well as some Sangiovese, Montepulicano and Trebbiano. These are vibrant, energetic and enchanting wines handcrafted in the vineyard and in the cellar, without any external intervention: spontaneous fermentations with indigenous yeasts, no temperature control, enzymes, yeast or other additives, and no filtration or added sulphur.
We met Leonardo at Vin Natur in Verona in the Spring and were so impressed with the quality of his wines, his infectious enthusiasm for the farm, and his adoration of Lazio more generally, that we placed an order there and then. We are thrilled to be bringing these wines into the UK and having had a chance to re-taste the range following their arrival this week, we're delighted to say they are everything we remembered and more.
Domani: 100% Cesanese, an ancient Lazio variety that is widely believed to have been one of the core winemaking varieties imbibed in ancient Rome. Juicy and fruity with soft tannins and aromas of pomegranate, cherries, violets and red pepper. Lovely with a light chill.
Sassolini: 100% Ciliegiolo from Leonardo's newest vineyard, macerated for just 5 days on skins before ageing on the lees for 9 months in concrete. A red cherry fruit bomb with tremendous generosity of fruit supported by an iron-like mineral streak and cranberry acidity.
Casa Mia: Bottled by the litre, Casa Mia is a blend of Montepulciano, Sangiovese and Ciliegiolo with a 10 day maceration on skins before pressing off to age in concrete. A wonderfully vivid and immediate wine with pure and silky blueberry and blackcurrant fruit, enticing spice and great freshness.
Portami Via: Leonardo's top red cuvée made from Ciliegiolo with a 10 day maceration on skins before extended lees ageing in concrete. Earthy forest floor aromas mixed with fresh cherries, blueberries and a whiff of smoke. Silky on the palate with more savoury notes and lifted, mouthwatering acidity.
Coraggio: A blend of Malvasia del Lazio and Trebbiano with a short 3 day maceration on skins before pressing off to age on the lees in concrete for 10 months. A gorgeous orange wine with an intriguing mix of tangerine, lemon zest, quince and white flowers on the nose. Textured and structured on the palate with more tangerine, pithy grapefruit and a gently funkiness.