Beautiful wines express a complex path – the wines of La Fiorita owe their existence to the bravery and business acumen of a woman who eventually learned the secret of saying NO
Natalie Oliveros is an astute successful woman with a wonderfully rich life. For the past ten years this New York native has owned a highly rated organic wine producing estate in Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, the heartland of Tuscan wine. Natalie was classically trained in ballet as a child, one of five daughters brought up in NYC surrounded by noise, food, family and frothy homemade wine. When she was small a career in ballet beckoned. She became a lap dancer when she realised she wasn’t good enough to dance professional ballet. Later she married and established an iconic career in porn before getting seriously into wine and, she says, finally learning how to say no. She named her finest wine NO in homage to that advancement.
The wines of La Fiorita are complex, floral, elegant and very easy to like, much like their proprietress. Lisse Garnett interviewed Natalie Oliveras for Wine Anorak. Jamie Goode’s and Lisse’s tasting notes plus live tastings follow.
As a woman who has made many mistakes in her life I would like to say that I don’t feel that Natalie Oliveros is someone who might be said to have done the same. Oliveros is a successful business woman, a mother and a winery owner who is producing superb, elegant, high-brow, yet accessible wines..
La Fiorita is a nine-hectare Brunello di Montalcino estate. There are five lines: Brunello, Brunello Riserva, Rosso di Montalcino, Ninfalia (a Rosato) and Fiore di NO. La Fiorita has four hillside vineyard parcels: Pian Bossolino (East); Poggio al Sole (South); Giardinello (West); and La Fiorita (South East). Vines are farmed organically. Concrete tanks are used and wine is aged in 50hl French and/or Slavonian oak botte.
Tasting was a magnificently complex odessy – Jamie Goode and I first tasted the wines in my marital home, my divorce was imminent and the house transitory – we loved them. Later I met Natalie and tasted the wines with her, David Kermode, Sally Bishop and Helena Nicklin. If anything the wines were better. Finally the wines were tasted al fresco for an appreciative audience at the home of Michael and Monika Schuster. We filmed these for Wine on Camera and they are included in the tasting notes below.
La Fiorita Ninfalia Toscana Rosato 2019 Italy RRP £31.90
JG/13% alcohol. This is 100% Sangiovese from Brunello producer La Fiorita, fermented in concrete eggs. It’s pale in colour but has a lovely stony, mineral undercurrent to the sweet cherry, redcurrant and citrus fruit. This is quite bright and savoury, and although there’s a youthful fruitiness, there’s also some seriousness here: I’d be tempted to wait six months to drink it, but then we’ve lost the summer. Really lovely. 92/100
La Fiorita Rosso di Montalcino 2018 Tuscany, Italy
14% alcohol. Aged in 5000 litre botti. I really like this wine. So classically proportioned, with some sweet floral cherry and redcurrant aromatics, but also restraint and a touch of savouriness. In the mouth, there’s that beautifully Italian combination of fresh, supple red fruits, some sour cherry, and firm structure and bright acidity. A touch of austerity, but not too much, with the supple fruit leading the way. Very fine and quite elegant, and although this is young and structured, it offers a lot of appeal now. An expressive wine that has the potential for development, and shows the classic, more traditional side of Montalcino wine. Better than many Brunellos, I reckon. 93/100
La Fiorita Rosso di Montalcino 2019 Tuscany, Italy
14% alcohol. Supple, bright, gravelly, tarry black fruits nose with a savoury twist to the fruit. The palate has some sweet cherry and berry fruits, but also a grainy, savoury, slightly earthy edge. But it’s very fine and expressive, with notes of dried herbs and iodine as well as the compact, well definedfruit. Very Sangiovese, but with some refinement and a sense of balance and elegance, despite the savouriness and the structure. A lovely example of Rosso di Montalcino that straddles the fruit/savoury structure tension very well. 91/100
LG/So sweet and yet so savoury – this sour cherry, morello, cranberry, wild raspberry, laurel scented wine is deliciously dry and tannic on the tongue with a long lingeringly sour finish. Weirdly I get a peach note on the palate but we all know wine tasting is highly subjective and should not be taken too seriously. 90
La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino 2016 Tuscany, Italy RRP £65.30 15% Alcohol
JG/Brooding spice, tar, red cherry and wild strawberry nose. Concentrated palate with a savoury, grippy tar, earth and iodine edge to the lovely textural cherry and strawberry fruit. There’s real volume here showing a savoury, mellow maturity but it still has vitality. Lovely fruit and fine texture. 94/100
LG/Meaty, bloody, tar, morello, sour cherry, extremely dry – sanguine – gorgeously silky mouth feel – satin sheet across the tongue with an almost kirsch like upper note – again morello – divine and satin like with a deliciously lingering tannic finish – a touch of liquorice and woodsmoke too – truly elegant – the alcohol passes unnoticed, lightly carried in sumptuous waves. 95
La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino 2017 Tuscany, Italy
JG/Great concentration allied with elegance, even at 15% alcohol. It’s a wine of power but also precision and focus with fine notes of cherries, plums and dried herbs and some iodine. Shows brooding berry fruits on the nose and a sweetly fruited palate, with liqueur-like smoothness and a twist of liquorice, and substantial but refined tannic structure. Has freshness on the finish and a long future ahead of it. 95/100
LG/Dark savoury liquorice, pencil lead – ripe rich, elegant and so savoury, mulch, woodsmoke, insanely textural, dark cherry, sour cherry, blood. Long, long finish. That perfectly precise acid line too. Deliciously dry famine inducing edible tannin. 95
La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2016 Tuscany, Italy RRP £108.00
Great concentration allied with elegance, even at 15% alcohol. It’s a wine of power but also precision and focus with fine notes of cherries, plums and dried herbs and some iodine. Shows brooding berry fruits on the nose and a sweetly fruited palate, with liqueur-like smoothness and a twist of liquorice, and substantial but refined tannic structure. Has freshness on the finish and a long future ahead of it. 95/100
LG/ Cherry Bakewell, kirsch, cherry blossom, liquorice and tar, pencil lead and pastry – absolutely dense with richness and yet as light and silky as a feather boa – there is the most beautiful acid line drawing all of these rich and dark flavours into a symphonic whole – raspberry, almond frangipani and delicious dry mouth-inducing yet somehow sapid tannins – sorry but I’m going to say it – Orgasmic. 95
La Fiorita Fiori di NO 2015 Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy
15% alcohol. The NO refers to the name of the owner: Natalie Oliveros. This is a special selection of the best parcels of her Domaine, only made in the top years. In 2015 it came from two vineyards: Pian Bassolino (360 m, galestro soils) and Poggio al Sole (220 m, tufo/clay soils). Matured in large French oak (2600 litres). Slightly reticent on opening (actually, very reticent!), it flourishes after a while, and offers ripe, textured black cherry and plum fruit supported by grainy, savoury, stony, tar-like notes with a touch of cedar spice and some tea leaf and chalk hints. There’s volume and smoothness to the palate, but it also has good structure and some spicy framing. A complex, multidimensional wine built for the long haul, with some alcoholic warmth adding to the smoothness of the nicely textured fruit. 94/100 In the UK it retails for around £100 (Hedonism had this for £128, but it’s currently out of stock).