Brunello estate La Fiorita, owned by former dancer and adult entertainer turned Natalie Oliveros, has gained new listings in the UK as it completes construction of a new, enlarged winery.
Oliveros, who was born in New York state and is of Italian descent, helped her family to make wine as a child in the basement of their house.
Having made her name as a dancer and pornographic actress, she returned to wine in the 2000s, working with winemaker Roberto Cipresso on a range of expressions including a Brunello called Sogno Uno, and subsequently a Falanghina from Campania and a Barbera from Piedmont.
It was Sogno Uno that first brought her to the attention of the wine world, after the wine was given a 91-point rating from critic Robert Parker.
In 2011, she invested in La Fiorita, Cipresso’s personal project, later becoming the full owner in 2014. Since then, she has worked with oenologist, Maurizio Castelli, planting additional vines, gaining organic certification, and building a new winery.
La Fiorita now has nine hectares of vineyards spread across four plots.
Oliveros told the drinks business that while it had been a “challenge” to earn respect, she believes that the majority of the people she meets can see that she is dedicated.
“I am there, hands-on and put my heart and soul into my winemaking,” she said. “I am so proud to be a part of this great appellation and want nothing more than to be a reputable representation of the magic that is Brunello di Montalcino.”
Having initially allocated two-thirds of output to the American market, Oliveros instructed her team to broaden the estate’s reach into other markets, including the UK, where the winery is represented by Flint.
Speaking to the drinks business, Oliveros described the UK as “a major platform for Italian wines”, describing listings in the country as being “hugely important” for her brand.
La Fiorita’s wines are now served in a number of London restaurants including Zuma, Nobu, Amazonico and Coya. Oliveros also expressed pride in her listing in both alcohol emporium Hedonism and connected restaurant Hide. Head buyer at Hedonism, Alistair Viner, is now listing La Fiorita’s Rosso di Montalicino 2018, Brunello di Montalcino 2015 and Riserva 2013.
At a lunch at Davies and Brook in London last month, Oliveros presented two new wines. The ‘NO’ Brunello di Montalcino 2015, Oliveros’ new top tier wine, is made from the best grapes from two of La Fiorita’s four vineyards. The wine spent 24 months in 26hl French oak botti.
Oliveros also showcased the estate’s first commercial rosé called Ninfalia, made from the 2019 vintage. The pink wine spent six months in 17hl concrete eggs. Both wines are made from 100% Sangiovese and have RSPs of £115 and £23.95 respectively.
Oliveros began construction of a new two-level gravity-fed winery in 2018. The new facility includes 50hl and 70hl concrete fermentation and maceration tanks, as well as 25hl and 50hl oak botti from three different producers.
She told db that the objective was not to make La Fiorita larger but “more efficient”.
She said: “I wanted independence in the making of my wines, as before we were renting a space in quite a small cellar. It was amazing how we could make quality wines in these confined quarters.
“Now, with the help of Maurizio Castelli, I have the capacity and capability to make the kind of wines I want to make without compromise; to do the kind of careful work I want to do with the space I need to do it.
“I have nine hectares of vineyards, four parcels at different locations with different soils, expositions and altitudes, each of which reach different levels of maturity at different times. I needed to vinify each plot separately to bring a better independent terroir expression and now I have the space to do that very specific kind of work to make the best wines possible.”
The estate currently producers between 28,000 and 30,000 bottles a year. Having just purchased another vineyard near the winery, Oliveros believes La Fiorita will make closer to 45,000 by 2024.