When speaking of the Azienda Agricola Linero, we cannot fail to mention Castelnuovo Magra which rises above and protects the Hills of Luni. They exist alongside in perfect harmony and the vineyards seem to be the ideal extension of the fortified hilltop town as they stretch down towards the sea. One of these vineyards, in particular, now run by the young winemaker Catia Cesare, has roots that go back to the 1960s, as many locals recall, when the then owner, General Tognoni, began his research into vines and wines which was considered decidedly innovative for his time. His vineyard was having native vines such as Vermentino, Trebbiano, Sangiovese and Canaiolo but his decision to also enhance red grapes such as France vines and Barbera was considered somewhat daring in that period. Luigi Veronelli, then a young journalist who was covering the “Giro d’Italia” cycle tour, fell in love with Generale Tognoni’s “IL Barbera”, and devoted a long article in praise of this wine and its producer in the newspaper Il Giorno (1967). Salvatore Marchese recalls in an article in the magazine Barolo & Co that Veronelli: “on several occasions wrote enthusiastically about this vineyard which provided the foundations for the specialised grape growing and winemaking which later followed in the Province of La Spezia. A close friendship grew up between the Vineyard owner and Gino (as Veronelli was known to his friends) and it was soon extended to include Mario Soldati and numerous other leading personalities from the world of Art and Literature”. It is no mistake to refer to “IL Barbera”, as we have and as the attentive reader will have noticed, because Mario Soldati deliberately referred to it as a masculine noun in his book “VINO AL VINO” to distinguish it from the feminine “LA Barbera” of Piedmont when, after trying unsuccessfully to trace the wine producer, he finally did so with the help of Mario Spagnol from Lerici, and he was able, at last, to visit General Tognoni’s property. “As for me, without forgetting “IL Barbera”, (to which I refer using the masculine definite article because, of course, it is not from Piedmont), and that, certainly, as the General says, is pressed from barbera grapes, and which is exquisite (though unlike LA Barbera), I would award the top prize to LINERO, which is, of course, that very dry white wine of which I had heard speak, unusually full-bodied, perfumed and substantial, pressed from Trebbiano and Vermentino grapes, though I don’t recall the respective proportions”.
The story goes on from the year 2000 when Catia Cesare and her husband Andrea jumped at the chance to purchase General Tognoni’s old Vineyard from his daughter Maria Elisa and to unite it with that already belonging to the Valsega family. In fact, Antonio Valsega, Catia’s father-in-law had fallen in love with this area, surrounded by magnificent vineyards, woods and olive groves, and had bought in 1959 the lands bordering on those of Tognoni. Love of the land and the fascinating stories associated with the General did the rest and the Azienda Agricola Linero was born in 2004. Since then, Catia has passionately devoted herself to the scrupulous care of the Vineyard by replanting and particularly encouraging the barbera vines so as to be able to propose this product once again. The planted area of the vineyard at present covers two hectares, including the original Linero Vineyard and more recent plots. 75% of the entire area is devoted to white grapes, mostly vermentino, while the red grapes include sangiovese and canaiolo as well as the aforesaid barbera. More than 6,000 bottles were produced in the 2015 harvest and divided among: Colli di Luni Vermentino D.O.C., “…..del Generale”, Colli di Luni Vermentino D.O.C. “Linero” and Colli di Luni Rosso D.O.C. “Linero”. New energy continues to inspire the Linero project as the support of the oenologist Gabriele Gadenz and, indeed, great steps forward have been taken since 2004, the first year of production. So much so that we have no doubts about claiming that Linero certainly yields one of the very best Colli di Luni D.O.C.
And coming very soon …..“IL” BARBERA