Most of us enjoy wine with friends at a delicious meal, or on its own at a well-stocked wine bar. But it doesn’t just appear on the menu by magic! There’s a very long, meticulous process to get wine from terrior to table, and there are countless people whose job it is to make that process runs smoothly. With this in mind, we thought we’d tell you about one of the interesting individuals in the wine industry, and find out what he loves about working in viticulture.
Originally from Milan, Roberto Lechiancole wasn’t always in the wine business. A former aerospace engineer, he turned to terrior later in life and opened his boutique vineyard and wine resort, Prime Alture around a decade ago. Combining wine, food and relaxation in its spa, saltwater pool and beautifully decorated rooms, Prime Alture produces a vast range of wines, including their “Centopercento Pinot Noir” (Lechiancole’s favourite grape!) as well as their Merlot “L’altra metà del Cuore” (meaning The Other Half of the Heart, alluding to how Roberto’s wife convinced him to bottle and sell this wine) not to mention their own Metodo Classico “Io per te”, again made with Pinot Noir grapes – Lechiancole’s favourite. It's pretty handy, as Prime Alture’s location in the Oltreppo region of Lombardy situates Lechiancole in one of the areas with the largest levels Pinot Noir production in Italy!
Despite this large scale of production going on around them, Lechiancole tells us that Prime Alture is a producer for wine lovers. “We can’t be a producer for the supermarkets” he admits, telling us that the winery makes 8000 bottles a year, 500 of which they keep for research and development purposes. This being said, who minds about supplying supermarkets when you’re featured in the top eateries in a cultural metropolis; Prime Alture supplies all Michelin starred restaurants in Milan bar two! We wonder how long it will take to talk the remaining establishments around…
When we asked Lechiancole about the process of making his produce, he told us poetically that “to make wine is like being an alchemist. You must know your ingredients.” He went on to use the analogy that even if you ask a chef for the recipe of your favourite dish, you’re never going to be able to recreate it at home. “It’s not because he didn’t tell you something, there’s no secret.” Instead, he says there are two factors; ability, and the components. “If he told you to use 2 spoons of oil… which oil does he mean?” He tells us that is the same with wine, and that even though many wineries use similar methods, the distinction between products comes from what ingredients are used, and these ingredients include the quality of the soil that the grapes are planted in.