Leonardo Bussoletti is on the front lines of the Ciliegiolo revival. A grape that many only know as a minor blending partner in Chianti and helping to soften Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo has a history in Umbria that dates back to the 1200’s. It is here where Bussoletti is working to revive local clones and is producing monovarietal Ciliegiolo wines that form the foundation of his winery.
Leonardo spent the first half of his career in wine sales and marketing, selling the fruits of others’ labor. In 2009 he decided to change his fate, taking control of a small vineyard owned by his family and planting 9 hectares of Ciliegiolo, Trebbiano and Grechetto. In 2016 he has arrived at about 20,000 bottles total production, 70% of which goes to Ciliegolo! It’s this choice to produce three different monovarietal Ciliegiolo’s that caught my eye. Who does that?!
In 2009 Leonardo began working with the University of Milan to identify 30 clones of Ciliegiolo, many of which were present on his newly purchased vineyards. From here he used massal selection to graft clones of his choice and began producing wines from this research.
Leonardo is a wine lover (dinner at his house is a blast!) and is particularly fond of Burgundy, a style of wine he always has in mind when producing his wines. As a winemaker he continues to learn and truly jumped into his new life without winemaking experience. Knowing what he likes to drink however has been a sort of guiding principal for him. What Leonardo may lack in experience he makes up for in enthusiasm. He has a tremendous passion for his work and for the revival of this forgotten varietal. He helped found the Association of Ciliegiolo producers of Narni (there are 11 total producers in the tiny D.O.C.) and is not shy when it comes to discussing the potential for these wines.