Discovering the excellence from the Elba island with Antonio Arrighi

Tell us about the story of your company and your passion for winery

I started working in the winery at 14, helping my father out. Back then, I didn’t think that it could become my main occupation. I used to work in an hotel. When in 1990, I began experimenting with non-native vines together with the Tuscany Region and collaborating with the agronomist of the CREA in Arezzo, I got closer and became passionate about their research. This experiment lead me to bring a considerable investment into the restructuring of the vineyards and the purchase of new land. Not to mention my father’s great passion for agriculture, that he passed on to me.

What are the peculiarities of your land and your product?

Elba is a very suitable territory for viticulture, a territory with over 160 mineralogical types, which allows wines to express complexity and uniqueness. An island the size of Elba is a reservoir of brightness, ventilation, hilly exposure, all ideal characteristics to get the most out of the vines. By experimenting with the ancient practice of using amphorae in wine production, I was among the first in Tuscany – and the only one on the Elba island – to vinify in terracotta creating distinctive and highly appreciated products.

Why the Nesos project?

In April 2018 at a conference on wine and archelogy on the Elba island, Professor Attilio Scienza from the University of Milan, illustrated his historico-scientific Enoarcheological research on the Aegean island of Chios investigating the making of the “vino degli Dei” (wine of the Gods), a particular method of wine making. To increase the longevity of the wine, before withering the white grape (very similar to our Ansonica) and subsequently refining it in amphora, the Greeks of Chios would immerse the grapes in seawater. The Professor remarked that he had not yet found a “smaller” island producer willing to put his research into practice. Then, someone pointed out that on Elba there was a winemaker who experimented and had experience with the use of amphorae and the withering of grapes. The outcome of my later meeting with Professor Scienza was immediately positive. And the experiment took shape.

There are only a few producers on the island, what marks out your work?

There are 20 producers on the Elba island and they are represented by the Elba Doc Protection Consortium. Elba’s historical winemaking tradition is incredible. First and foremost, my goal is to make a wine that I like and then to make it known by telling its story. A wine that has a story is easier to promote and only those who work with the product every day can do it.

Three adjectives to describe your wines

Minerality, complexity, personality. My wines embody the respect for the territory and its culture. To focus on safeguarding the ecosystem and the biodiversity of an island, where the company’s 15 hectares are located entirely within the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, a UNESCO MAB biosphere reserve, is only natural. In recent years, I made a commitment to work on quality over quantity, to create products with a unique and recognizable identity. The company is going through the process of biological conversion, an almost obligatory step for those who have a long history of producing and marketing wines using natural materials such as terracotta.

We warmly thank Daniela Mugnai for writing this article and Rubyna Chaudry for the care of the translations.