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Tenuta Luce and Relais CastelGiocondo Reveal the Magic of Tuscany’s Montalcino

Tuscany

Courtesy Tenuta Luce

In this corner of Montalcino, where the sunlight’s distinctive golden hue combines with crisp, clean air and constant breezes, Tenuta Luce claims an exceptional, westward-oriented spot overlooking what seems to be the whole of Tuscany.

To enjoy a glass or bottle of Luce wine, the ICONIC Italian blend of sangiovese and merlot, is, without fail, an enjoyable experience. To enjoy that glass or bottle within the winery’s home turf of Montalcino, Tuscany, is a revelation. To tour the winery and afterwards enjoy an overnight stay at neighboring CastelGiocondo, overlooking the Luce vineyards, is a peak of life moment, not soon to be forgotten. 

The Frescobaldi family’s prized wine, instantly recognizable by its radiant sun logo (inspired by Brunelleschi’s high altar in Florence’s Santo Spirito church, as well as by the luminous Montalcino sunlight) has been a wine lover favorite since its debut in 1997. The result of a partnership between Vittorio Frescobaldi and Napa Valley’s Robert Mondavi and their desire to make a wine that exceeded the boundaries of Italian wine tradition, Luce was an instant success.

Wine

Photo by Dan Miller

Today, under the sole direction of the Frescobaldi family, Luce has become one of Italy’s most ICONIC wines. In search of the wine’s heartbeat, fans from across the globe pilgrimage to its 615 pristine acres of vineyards, woods, and olive groves in the heart of Montalcino’s Val d’Orcia Nature Park, a rural landscape named in 2004 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. 

The Frescobaldis have long been associated with Italy’s past and the region’s vinous landscape—for 700 years to be exact. Theirs is a history filled with renowned ancestors including literary figures, musicians, explorers and bishops. Frescobaldi archives boast ancient documents and historical registers, such as commercial contracts with a variety of European Courts, beginning in the 13th Century. In 1252, Lamberto Frescobaldi constructed the first bridge over the Arno—today’s Ponte Santa Trinita—connecting his properties to the center of Florence.

Dino and Matteo were poets during Dante’s time—in the mid-1400s, Stoldo commissioned Filippo Brunelleschi to build the Basilica di Santo Spirito on the land of his property. In the middle of the 16th Century, Bartolomeo commissioned the most famous portrait painter at the time, Lorenzo Lippi, to paint a series of characters representative of the family name. In the 15th and 16th Centuries, they furnished wine to the Court of England and to the Papal Court in Rome. To state that the family is part of the tapestry of Italy, and specifically of Florence and surrounding Tuscany, is not an overstatement.

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Tuscany

Photo by Dan Miller

Today, the family wine enterprise, led by President Lamberto Frescobaldi, includes a variety of celebrated labels from even more celebrated vineyards throughout Italy. A Frescobaldi wine is a “sure thing,” each a pure representation of its place of origin. And Luce is a beautiful example. 

Under the expert guidance of winemaker Alessandro Marini, Luce is produced from designated vineyards selected for their proven, outstanding qualities. Vintage after vintage, the vinification process and blend assembly follow and respect the characteristics of the grapes in each growing year, without deviating from the guiding concept of a harmonious balance between Sangiovese and Merlot. Dense and velvety with notes of ripe berry fruit, Luce is luscious, as are the wineries three other labels—Lucente, a fruit-forward, ‘drink now’ Merlot/Sangiovese blend and a delicious entry point to the world of Luce, the noble and forceful Luce Brunello which pays homage to the Montalcino Brunello tradition and Lux Vitis, a very limited production Cabernet Sauvignon/Sangiovese bend.

Guests can sample each of these with a Luce tour that reveals the winery’s underground wine cellar, a subterranean temple above which lies an enchanting Mediterranean garden designed by landscape architect Richard Shelbourne. From the vaulted entrance and its succession of luminous arches, one passes to the production area and its large, pomace-colored, tulip-shaped concrete vats. Pristine barrel rooms are subtly illuminated by Luce’s radiant symbol, and in the elegant Cantina Storica, a Medieval library of sorts, one finds a collection of every vintage of every Luce label within a museum-like display. 

Today, the family wine enterprise, led by President Lamberto Frescobaldi, includes a variety of celebrated labels from even more celebrated vineyards throughout Italy. A Frescobaldi wine is a “sure thing,” each a pure representation of its place of origin. And Luce is a beautiful example. 

Photo by Dan Miller

In this corner of Montalcino, where the sunlight’s distinctive golden hue combines with crisp, clean air and constant breezes, Tenuta Luce claims an exceptional, westward-oriented spot overlooking what seems to be the whole of Tuscany. Undulating hills peppered with majestic Cypress trees and ancient hamlets provide a stunning panorama, the colors of which change hourly. Even those who daily enjoy this vista continue to be charmed by its beauty. To witness a sunset is to be awed, and the best way to be awed is to stay a night or two at Luce’s neighboring property, CastelGiocondo. 

Situated high above the Luce vineyards, this 12th Century Medieval village was originally built to defend the road leading from the sea to Siena. The property is one of the first to begin producing Brunello di Montalcino in 1800, and as one of the Frescobaldi brands, CastelGiocondo continues to produce delectable wines for which its own tasting and tour is warranted.

But it’s the property’s relais featuring seven exclusive and elegant rooms that encourage visitors to stop and smell not only the on-property roses, but also the house made breads and pastries made fresh each morning and served with an included, bountiful breakfast. Overlooking both the Brunello di Montalcino and Tenuta Luce vineyards, the exceedingly inviting relais also features a small spa with hot tub and wood burning sauna. And its upper garden is the ideal spot at which to enjoy an aperitivo while watching the setting sun.  

Tuscany

Courtesy Tenuta Luce

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A CastelGiocondo stay also reveals the Artisti per Frescobaldi collection of contemporary artworks. For thirty generations, the Frescobaldi family as patrons, clients, and collectors has supported art and artists. That support is illustrated today by the Artisti per Frescobaldi project, established in 2013. With each edition of this modern art prize, three artists are invited to visit and offer their own take on the CastelGiocondo estate. Thus far, 15 artists have taken part in the prize, and their vibrant works appear throughout the estate, as well as on dedicated, limited and numbered edition CastelGiocondo Brunello di Montalcino bottle labels, displayed within the relais’ dining room.

Together, Tenuta Luce and CastelGiocondo are a winning combination, placing guests at the heart of Montalcino’s beauty and vibrancy, and within the significant and historic world of the Frescobaldi family. Peak of life moment, indeed.

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