I met Arnaldo about 8 years ago, it must have been on a trip in ~2008/9 when I was laying the foundation of the import company and creating my first relationships with producers I was hoping to work with throughout Italy. I had heard amazing things about this little known trattoria in Cortona and on a busy trip full of scouting producers, Adriana and I made time to stop at Taverna Pane Vino for a quick pit stop. [NB: Cortona is a town we know very well, it's a heavily touristed town, full of sun-scorched German travelers...it's quite literally the town that served as the backdrop to both the book and movie "Under the Tuscan Sun"...needless to say, it's not where you'd expect to find the most amazing natural wine spot in Italy.]
We arrived, a little after the normal lunch hours in Italy, and sat by ourselves in this cavernous yet warm and inviting hole-in-the-wall. I've been dying to see the wine list, which from what I'd gathered was truly special and rare; full of natural wine gems from around Italy and beyond. I knew what I wanted though... Collecapretta white wine... anything they had. I flipped through and found some Terre dei Preti Bianco and promptly ordered it from the young server...she had no clue about the wine but disappeared into the back. Moments later a soft-spoken gentleman sidled over to out table, said hello and asked somewhat bewildered, if I knew the wine I just tried to order... I mean here we are, restaurant empty on a Tuesday, late afternoon ordering a strange, then unheard of wine from a cult producer. It's worth mentioning that Pane Vino was one of Collecapretta's earliest customers and one of the only places that sold their wines outside of the winery.
"Yes, I know the wine...a little bit", I replied. "we are actually on our way to visit them this afternoon!"...the man stood further bewildered. Moments later we were chatting about all things natural wine, his restaurant, which he opened in 1997, and his unmistakable passion and knowledge of the landscape of natural wine...it was and still is very very rare in Italy. Arnaldo and I became fast friends.
At the end of this amazing, simple yet refined pranzo, I chatted further with Arnaldo about my import project, the producers I was working with and hoping to work with. He pulled out a couple wines that he used by the glass and on the list for locals and we tried them at the bar together....he said, you should meet my friend, he makes some nice wines just in the next village over, about 10km from here. That's how I met Marco Tanganelli.
Arnaldo always tinkered with making his own wines. He has a tiny plot that he farms with diligence, often using biodynamic preparations and simple hand tools. I would describe the size of the vineyard as "garden size" - very small but handled with absolute care. His passion for natural wine is deep, so the small amount of wines he makes are pure as can be. Sangiovese is at the heart of course, with Trebbiano, Malviasia and the occasional other grapes like Malvasia Nera, Aleatico, etc.
For many years Arnaldo made his wines in the corner of Marco Tanganelli's winery. In the past 2 years Arnaldo has completed his own tiny cantina, where he now makes his wines. He uses a combination of old oak barrels, stainless steel, resin and anfora for vinification and aging. All the wines are made with natural fermentation and without sulfur additions when possible.
I realize this is a long story but it's one that I truly love. After many years of hoping and trying to get Arnaldo's wines to the US, the stars finally aligned and we've received our first shipment. Quantities are incredibly small but I encourage anyone that has a deep passion for the hidden gems of Italian natural wine to get in on these, especially his “Selle dell'Acute Sangiovese”...his primary wine.