by Zoltan Szabo
Azienda Agricola Casa Raia is a former Biondi Santi estate, now owned by Canadian
Raissa Ludmilla Temertey, located beneath the medieval town of Montalcino. The estate sits on totaling 9 HA of land of which 1.5 HA is planted with grapes, the rest is forrest and olive trees. Certified organic and some biodynamic practices are also conducted, the winery is an Association of Natural Wine Producers member.
Vintners are Pierre-Jean Monnoyer and his wife Kalyna, who is Mrs. Temertey’s daughter. The two met in China while Pierre-Jean was working in the hospitality industry there. They ended up getting married, moving to Casa Raia and now produce a mere of 5,000 bottles of natural red wine – completely free of sulphur in most vintages and well below any threshold when they have used trace amounts. They are one of only nine natural wine producers in Brunello.
I met Pierre-Jean in Toronto in January. He quickly quickly pointed out that his is not a winemaker, but rather a vigneron, and clearly, I could not have agreed more, “the vine determines the wine” and surely, wine is made in the vineyard and not in a winemaking facility, basta.
There are three wines produced at Casa Raia, first vintage being 2006 (see my tasting notes below) presented in an elegant, classic package, the label depicting a Ukrainian woman in traditional headwear, believe it’s called the “ochipok”. Ukrainian being the Temertey family’s ethic background, and a small Sagra del Tordo symbol, the medieval archer, reference to Montalcino’s yearly celebrations, The Festival of the Thrush. The label is designed by Mrs. Temertey herself, who’s got a background in arts, and so does Kalyna, who studied sculpting in college.
2008 Casa Raia ‘Bevilo’ IGT Toscana
The proprietary name refers to a Tuscan drinking song “Bevi lo, vino fa canta”: drink up, wine makes you sing. This is a blend of Sangiovese Grosso and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, aged for 2 years in used French barrique: cherries, cranberries, leather, truffles and roses; medium to full weight and succulent with silky tannins; pure and delicious.
All scores are out of five apples.