Producers: Erio Bocci
Located in: Montenero d’Orcia, Italia
Supplying PCC since: 2006
Try “Sara” Rosso Toscano
Erio Bocci has good reason to smile. He knows la dolce vita isn’t a fairy tale — and that wine is part of it. For the Bocci family, great wine is about love, passion and respect — for the vineyard, for living well, and for each other.
You can taste that southern Tuscan charm in the wines of Perazzeta. Invite a bottle to dinner, you’ll smile too.
Sometimes, a fairy tale is so delicious that it can make you cry.
Once upon a time, there was a family who lived and worked in the Maremma, a little-known place in the magical, picture book-land of Tuscany. The family owned a few grocery stores and grew grapes in Montenero d’Orcia, across the valley from — and in the metaphorical shadow of — Montalcino, one of the world’s most famous wine growing regions.
Back in another, simpler time before the Gambero Rosso, before wine drinkers needed a Wine Advocate to tell them what to drink, long before the Wine Spectator was even a gleam in Marvin Shanken’s portfolio, Erio Bocci was the second generation of this family to find his soul firmly planted in the vineyard. At the ripe old age of three, he dug his hands into the dirt and found his calling — the life of a farmer. He grew up tuned to the rhythms of the dirt, the vines, the sun, the rain, bud break and harvest, growing grapes to sell to local wine producers.
Erio’s son, Alessandro, like his father, was born with the sap of the vines in his veins, his heart beating to the metronome of the seasons and the family’s connection to the soil engrained in his DNA. As a teenager, Alessandro met Rita and fell in love, and she with him. They are the first and only girlfriend or boyfriend the other ever has had, and they’ve shared both the hard work and the passion of a sweet life rooted in the soil to this day.
For both Alessandro and Rita, that passion still grew more ardent, flowering in callused hands, an ear for the millennial tales whispered by the stones and the undulating hills in their special corner of the Maremma — and a growing desire to allow the dirt and the vines to truly tell their tale.
Eventually, it became apparent that it no longer made sense simply to raise the grapes, then sell them to become anonymous components in someone else’s blend. So, the Bocci family grocery stores were sold to nourish a dream: Erio, Alessandro, Rita and daughter Sara’s grapes now would become wine at the estate and be bottled bearing the family name. Sara, the fourth generation of Bocci winegrowers, has set aside her considerable talent and accreditation as a chef, heeding the call of the vineyard to lend the proverbial hand.
From the singular, ancient, seashell-laced soil to a place at the table, Perazzeta wines are the delicious fruits of one family’s labors. From pruning to training, to green harvest, picking, “punch downs,” “racking” and the other, countless tasks involved in growing wine, these are handmade originals. The wines speak for themselves — profoundly flavored but brilliantly focused, elegant and packed with more soul than the waiting room in purgatory.
Want to know where to eat and drink well? Go where the wine people go. On any given day, you can find a collection of assorted wine glitterati from Montalcino at next-door neighbor Flavio Biserni’s incredible ristorante, Antica Fattoria del Grottaione, taking in the view, dining, drinking Perazzeta wines, and enjoying la dolce vita — as dolce as it can be. Just recently, a battle-hardened, fully jaded veteran wine salesman from New York was said to have been moved to tears while dining al fresco there on a fine spring afternoon. I’m not alone in testifying that it’s the kind of place that can do that to a person.
The rest is, as they say, history (in the making) — or perhaps more appropriately, an ongoing fairy tale — of the best kind. For this isn’t a story of far-off dreamy castles where the protagonists live happily ever after, without care or toil. On the contrary, this story is based on work. It’s a tale of sweat and never-ending toil, day after day, season after season, vintage after vintage.
But it’s the kind of hard work that falls under the heading of labors of love, where one reaps what one sows, and the work and the fruits of one’s toils are inextricably linked. It’s also something you can taste, woven into the flavors by eons of geology, sun, wind, rain and dirt.
Isn’t that what wine should do? Beyond the bacchanalian beverage that titillates our senses and unleashes the libertine in us, isn’t great wine a key to the fairy tale realm? When it’s the real deal, made with love, passion, sweat and a hefty shot of character, it’s the key that unlocks mind — and soul — to contemplate and embrace the amazing palette of possibilities that the world has to offer. Sometimes, it even ventures deep inside to unlock the place where both the tears and the laughter are stored.