A unique viticultural research project

Back in the 1980s, Agricola San Felice launched an initiative aimed at protecting the genetic heritage of Tuscan viticulture, by collecting and classifying over 270 grape varieties. After years of study and experimentation, we rediscovered numerous interesting varieties, which have since been used to accentuate the characteristics of Sangiovese.


The Research Project

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The Vitiarium is the estate’s most important experimental vineyard. Here, in the late 1980s, Agricola San Felice joined forces with the University of Florence to conduct a unique research project. To combat the genetic erosion of the territory’s varietal heritage, the researchers collected and classified over 270 Tuscan grape varieties, which were then planted in an area of 1.6 hectares, where they were tended, tested and analysed by Agricola San Felice.

Thirty different varieties were then short-listed and selected on the basis of analytical and tasting criteria, resulting in the rediscovery of interesting varietals such as Abrusco, Abrostine and above all Pugnitello. The wine created from this latter grape variety has been in commercial production since 2006 and has all the qualities of a Tuscan label of the highest order.

With its Chianti Classico Gran Selezione project, which blends Sangiovese with five other indigenous grape varieties, San Felice set about replicating the first-class results achieved with pure Pugnitello, while introducing the peculiarities of the estate’s viticultural heritage into its Chianti Classico production as well.

The San Felice Vitiarium is a repository of the genetic heritage of Tuscan winemaking. Studies involving the DNA mapping of all the varieties present are currently under way, with a view to identifying those forgotten indigenous varieties which, even in small quantities, are capable of personalising and enhancing the characteristics of Sangiovese.