Interview: Tim Manning, Winemaker

Q. How did a man from the Wirral area of northern England end up in Chianti?

A. I came to Chianti more than 20 years ago to learn about the other side of the wine world. I was a wine seller in the United Kingdom, but I wanted to try grape harvesting. I loved Italian wines, and I came to Tuscany after reading Nicolas Belfrage’s book, Life Beyond Lambrusco. In the end, it was not a bad experience, as I still live there.

Q. You have been in Tuscany now for 20 years, what is it that made you stay?

A. Look around, much of the answer is there. I never take the beauty of Tuscany for granted; it continues to take my breath away. I am allowed to make wine (both a craft and a passion) in one of the most beautiful places in the world with one of the noblest grape varieties there is, albeit one of the underrated varieties, Sangiovese.

Q. Where were you making wine before you came to Montecalvi in 2017?

A. I made my first harvest in Riecine, many moons ago. I made wine in Martinborough in New Zealand and in the state of Oregon in the United States. I helped found the companies Il Borghetto and Valdonica here in Tuscany, and now I’m in Montecalvi.

Q. How did you end up in Montecalvi?

A. The owner, Jim Drake, having recently purchased Montecalvi, met in London with the father of Italian wine journalism, Nicolas Belfrage (whom I am very honored to call an old friend). He asked Nic to suggest names of some winemakers in Tuscany, and as luck would have it, mine was on the list.

Q. You are described in Chianti Classico as a revolutionary for the way you work with Sangiovese. What can we expect from the new vintages at Montecalvi when it comes to style?

A. Montecalvi was a winery I already knew, and I loved its wines from the moment I arrived in Tuscany. They were very well done, complex and unique. Each winemaker has his own signature, let no one say otherwise, so I hope, in the long run, they will be beautifully made, complex and unique, but with my own wine-dipped imprint.

Q. What are your plans as a winemaker for Montecalvi?

A. Nothing in particular. Montecalvi is almost perfect as it is.

Q. What is your favorite restaurant in the area?

A. If I tell you, maybe everyone will go there and then I won’t find a table there. I will divide my response into four categories:

Food, beer, wine and cocktails. Papaveri e Papere in San Miniato is undoubtedly one of the best restaurants in Tuscany: King Grizzly in Florence for the best Italian craft beers on tap; Le Volpi e L’Uva in Florence has one of the most eclectic selections of Italian wines; and The Art Bar in Florence has been mixing cocktails forever and continues to make them without being a show-off.

Q. In your opinion, what makes Montecalvi different from other companies?

A. In the end, according to who you are, everything and nothing.

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