Grapes of Greatness: La Màgia

16 Jul 2021
4 min read

La Màgia, an exquisite estate located in the town of Montalcino in the Tuscany wine region, produces Brunello di Montalcino – one of Italy’s most famous red DOCG wines. FOUR sits down with the estate’s owner and winemaker Fabian Schwarz to find out more about La Màgia’s internationally recognised vintages.

Can you tell us a bit about La Màgia and its history?

In 1979 my family, Schwarz, based in the Alto Adige region, decided to buy the Fattoria La Màgia estate. The estate is located directly above the Romanesque abbey of Sant’Antimo, and because of this, it not only offers one of the best areas to grow its vines but also boasts one of the most beautiful panoramic views in Montalcino.

After purchasing the estate, my grandparents Herbert and Silvia and their son Harald fell in love with the place and decided to change their way of life, moving permanently to Montalcino. In 1983, after my parents Harald and Gabriele Zeitler married, I was born, followed three years later by my sister Sarah.

Tell us more about the estate’s name?

The name of our estate, an ancient property situated on an old paved Roman road dating back to the Etruscan era, is La Màgia with the accent on the first ‘a’. Although the similarity with the Italian word for magic (‘la magìa’) does cause a certain amount of confusion, we aren’t complaining!

Actually, the name is just as likely to be a derivation of ‘magione’ a Tuscan rendition of the French ‘maison’, since the building was originally a resting place for wayfarers and pilgrims. Indeed anyone looking down the valley towards the noble abbey of Sant’Antimo, directly below our vineyard, is bound to experience the sheer magic of this hallowed place. No wonder the Schwarz family were so overwhelmed by the location 40 years ago that they decided to change their lifestyle and put down roots here.

Can you give details on the winery’s philosophy and vision?

Uncompromising quality. A unique wine that is the maximum expression of the terroir of La Màgia and the vintage.

How did you get into the winemaking industry and why are you so passionate about it?

When I was 14 years old I attended the Istituto Agrario San Michele all’Adige, the most prestigious oenological college in Italy, where students benefit from incomparable teaching staff with a commitment to research and development. Honestly, it wasn’t until I moved to San Michele school that my love of winemaking really took off. Then, after several experiences in some wineries all over the world, I came back to La Màgia. In 2011, my father Harald Schwarz handed the baton to me.

What makes a good wine in your eyes, and how do you ensure La Màgia upholds this?

A good wine must be harmonious and balanced, there must be a correspondence between nose and mouth. It must be clean and elegant but also have personality. Achieving this is possible with painstaking work in the vineyard and extreme attention to all detail in the cellar throughout the year.

Tell us more about the terroir and what makes your area ideal for the growth of your specific wine grapes? 

Such a magnificent and generous terroir deserves to be cared for and protected with total passion and respect. The terrain is mostly stony but with sufficient lime and clay to retain water in the subsoil, guaranteeing nutrients even during prolonged periods of drought. The crowning glory of La Màgia is the forty-five-year-old vineyard, covering 15 hectares in a single block and planted entirely with Sangiovese grapes – exclusively registered as Brunello. This unique parcel of land dominates the valley at a height of 400-450 metres and faces southeast.

What are some of the winery’s core production principles?

The core production principles are to maintain the highest quality through the use of old vines, artisanal and non-mechanized processes and organic and sustainable agriculture.

Tell us more about farming organically and why this is important to you?

Our Bio/Organic certification is the result of forty years of commitment and professional expertise, always showing respect for the integrity of the terroir. The benefits of this approach are evident in the range of exceptional wines that we produce, which are all unique and unrepeatable.

Are there any other unique steps or techniques you use in the process that makes the wines superior?

Our grapes are very high quality, to begin with, and this paired with the use of very high-quality French woods and fermentation processes with long macerations, certainly help to create something superior.

Tell us more about your different wines? 

The wines we make are Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva and Brunello di Montalcino Ciliegio. These wines are all made with Sangiovese grapes that are Brunello certificated.

Rosso di Montalcino: Typified by lively fruit and a fresh appeal that makes it suitable for all occasions, formal and informal, and dishes that vary from simple to complex.

Brunello di Montalcino: The colour is ruby red tending towards garnet, with typical red berry fruit opening out on the nose and in the mouth. It bears mineral overtones and delicate spices supported by generous acidity, restrained tannin and a long finish. Coming from older vineyards, it pairs well with succulent dishes such as game meat and aged cheeses.

Brunello di Montalcino Cilegio: This is the absolute pinnacle of our winemaking skills. It is produced with grapes from the oldest vines, all at least 45 years old, enhanced by a terrain that is low in fertility but maximises concentration. The wine is named after one of the two cherry trees on either side of the vines, a magnificent specimen that identifies the vineyard from a considerable distance. This is our top cru, le grand vin de La Màgia. Only a very limited quantity of numbered bottles of this precious Brunello are released onto the market. With its freshness and complexity, this wine has pronounced mineral undertones. A statement of concentration and elegance that only the Sangiovese grape can deliver when grown in its ideal environment.

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva: Only produced in exceptional years from the very best grapes, our Riserva embodies the defining characteristics of a classic Brunello. Aged in new casks for a period of three and a half to four years, this magnificent wine with its extraordinary harmony and elegance guarantees fine drinking for years to come.

What would you say really sets La Màgia wines apart from others?

Elegance provided by a unique terroir and the continuous search for quality.

Tell us about some of the winery’s awards and/or greatest achievements?

Our wines have been included in the list of the 50 best Brunellos ever made in Montalcino by Decanter magazine. Our wines have also featured on the list of top wines for James Suckling, Decanter, Falstaff, Vinous, Wine Enthusiast, Jancis Robinson, Robert Parker and Vinum.

How do you hope your wines will impact people?

I hope that my wines give emotions to the consumer. A memorable wine that binds to a special moment. 

What’s next for La Màgia? 

Never stop being curious and experimenting. To be more and more open to the world, to knowledge and to the exchange of information.

To find out more, visit La Màgia’s website, Facebook page and Instagram profile.