Luce is a singular and irresistible expression of Montalcino, a Super Tuscan with an exotic side, and above all full of pleasure. The spectacular estate’s diversity of soils, expositions and biodiversity of olive groves and forests come together in a wine as vibrant and exciting as the landscape.
From the beginning, Luce was a bold proposition. The iconic estate located in the hills of southwest Montalcino was originally identified as a great area by the Marchese Vittorio Frescobaldi in the 1960s, and later launched as the Luce partnership between the Marchese and California wine legend Robert Mondavi. The wine was first produced from an outstanding Sangiovese vineyard along with a surprising experimental planting of Merlot from the 1960s done by a French company based in Bordeaux. Combining the roundness and softness of Merlot with the structure and elegance of Sangiovese might seem an obvious idea today, especially after the last 20 years of Super Tuscan history, but this was a first in Montalcino. That blending approach is still followed today, and what is so attractive about the result is, in fact, the character of Montalcino that shines through: the dark fruit, power and structure, the complexity of floral and spice notes, the chewiness of the tannin.
The estate’s iconic name and packaging (Luce translates to “light” in Italian) was inspired by the altar at the Santo Spirito church in Florence – a landmark church built on land donated by the Frescobaldi family during the Renaissance.
The Luce estate covers 615 acres, 217 of which are planted with Sangiovese and Merlot. The estate is in the southwest of Montalcino, at one of the highest elevation points, and south/southwest facing; the freshness and structure that result play in tension with the deep, perfectly ripe fruit. Higher elevation planting have sandstone and limestone, and are ideal for Sangiovese. Clay in the lower altitude vineyards is perfect for the powerful expression of Merlot.
The Merlot and Sangiovese grapes are harvested and fermented separately in multiple harvests, with rigorous fruit selection during picking and meticulous hand sorting. Fermentation is spontaneous with no added yeasts. Blending takes place immediately after fermentation and maceration and prior to barrel aging.
Aging takes place exclusively in French oak in order to develop the wine’s potential and achieve a perfect balance of flavors while respecting and reflecting the characteristics of the vintage.
In 2017, a crisp spring was followed by a warm, sunny and dry summer with bright cloudless
skies. The clayey soils of the Merlot vineyards provided the plants with adequate water reserves, which helped reduce any heat-related stresses. Rain showers in mid-September supported a perfect ripening of the grapes.
The wine displays an intense, almost impenetrable, ruby red color. On the nose, the wine introduces itself with intense red fruits and subtle hints of incense and spicy notes that bequeath extraordinary complexity. In the mouth, the bouquet’s complexity comes alive through elegant tannins that gift the wine with unique balance and structure.
Decanter - May 27, 2020
"March 19th 2020 was the 25th anniversary of Luce, a relatively young project founded by the Mondavi and Frescobaldi families in Montalcino. Despite the obvious cancellation of the event, the 2017 vintage celebrates this birthday properly. Luce is one of the few Super Tuscans of Montalcino. Compared to Brunello it is blended with Merlot adding suppleness and focused on new oak ageing. Deep crimson in colour, full of clove, vanilla and buttery aromas, than brights for black cherry and plummy notes, graphite and cherry flavour, with an earthy mineral finish. Grainy velvety tannins (impressive for 2017 vintage) and firm acidity are well supported by incredibly rich fruit concentration and suppleness. A wine drinkable now with potential for ageing."
Wine Spectator - April 7, 2021
"Ripe black currant and cassis fruit is shaded by violet notes and wrapped in an embrace of toasty oak accents. Iron and tobacco hints add interest. This is richly textured and supple until the tannins take hold on the finish. Overall, this is well-proportioned but needs a few years to tame the aggressiveness."
More on Luce 2017
May 27, 2020 - Due to COVID-19 and the subsequent lock-down measures in Italy cancelling the Prowein and Vinitaly events, producers flocked to social media platforms to release their latest wines. Decanter's Aldo Fiordelli…
Other Wines by this Producer
Luce Brunello is the winery’s tribute to Montalcino and the wine that emerged there in the second half of the 19th century to become one of Italy’s crowning jewels in wine production. It is produced in a very small quantity to showcase the unique character of a pure Sangiovese from the Luce estate vineyards and pay tribute to the winemaking tradition of Montalcino.
Lucente is the second wine of Luce, a wine with contemporary style, immediate and great pleasure, and like its elder sibling, an authentic interpretation of Montalcino and the Luce estate.