Ferenc Máté, author of  Hills of Tuscany and A Vineyard in Tuscany ( in Estonian published 2009), and his wife Candace, a painter, left New York City in 1990 for the Tuscan countryside. In one of the world’s most prestigious wine zones, the seaward slopes of Montalcino, they bought an ancient, abandoned farm with two hills, a canyon with waterfalls and a 13th century friary with a tower and courtyard. Their neighbors were world-renowned wine makers Angelo Gaja and Gianfranco Soldera. Being perfectionists, the Mátés performed a “museum quality” restoration of the friary, then hired Gaja’s agronomist and France’s Pierre Guillaume to select the best varietals and clones in planting their four vineyards of wonderfully varied exposition, elevation and soil composition.Their Syrah and Merlot debued in 2006 from the difficult 2002 vintage. Their success was immediate.

Planted to a high density of 6,200 vines per hectare, (3,000 per acre), the yields are kept extremely low by three annual green prunings to concentrate flavors. Selected, hand-picked at fullest maturity and fermented in small temperature-controlled stainless steel vats or new wooden barrels, the grapes are punched down by hand to extract colors and tannins, while the must is kept cool to maintain the rich aromas of fruits and spices. The wines are aged for up to two years and a half in Allier French oak barriques and tonneaux.