Twenty years ago, two Italian winemakers made history when they united to create a controversial new blend: Luce, or “light.” A combination of Sangiovese and Merlot, the philosophy behind this now-celebrated wine was once considered sacrilege.
The story begins in 1993, when Vittorio Frescobaldi of Toscana met Robert Mondavi of Napa Valley. The two vintners came from very different worlds: Vittorio’s prestigious family winery, Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi, can trace its Tuscan winemaking heritage to the year 1000 C.E., while Robert had founded his own namesake winery in 1966. However different their histories, though, they shared a passion for crafting Italian wines of the utmost quality and elegance.
In a bold move, Robert and Vittorio joined forces, combined traditions, and shared resources to create a completely new wine that combined the native Sangiovese grape with Merlot. At the time, Toscana had long been known for Brunello di Montalcino, a traditional wine made strictly with 100% Sangiovese. The idea of blending Merlot with the revered grape (whose name literally translates to “the blood of Jove”) was unprecedented.
The two wine families were undeterred. They sought out the finest vineyards in the Montalcino wine region, and set out to create their wine. Finally, in 1997, the first two vintages of 1993 and 1994 were released together to instant acclaim. The roundedness and softness of Merlot blended perfectly with the structure and elegance of Sangiovese. Luce has been treasured for its innovative quality ever since.
As the years pass, the wine has stood the test of time, continuing to offer expression unique to each growing season. In 2004, the project was officially inherited by Lamberto Frescobaldi, who grew up helping his father and Robert in the vineyards and has dedicated his life to wine.
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