Antica Fornace Montecchio is a family run company and estate located in the heart of the Chianti that has been making terracotta goods for centuries. Marco Boracchini, a technical engineer that has previously run ceramic and other terracotta operations, oversees the terracotta side of the business. Marco hand crafts the largest format and most practical terracotta vessels for winemaking purposes on the market today.
Terracotta literally translates to "baked clay" and the clay's finest representation is found right outside of Florence in the hills surrounding the village of Impruneta. What makes the terroir of this unique clay is its special "galestro," or soil that contains marl and limestone. The clay is baked at temperatures ranging from 900 C–1100 C for anywhere between 70–80 hours. Terracotta was used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and then Romans as a storage vessel for wine far before oak barrels existed and has recently experienced a resurgence in popularity amongst winemakers interested in minimal intervention winemaking techniques.
Vincent Bouchard resided in Italy for 6 years and became interested in the use of terracotta after seeing them at several Italian trade shows and then attending the "Terracotta e il vino" symposium held in Impruneta.
Montecchio Terracotta amphorae are made of 100% of natural materials, and they have a porosity that allows for the micro-oxidation of the wine and tannins. These amphorae also act as a thermal insulator. With wines aged in terracotta, you can expect minerality; but with more earthy notes and a lifting of the wine on the palette. Terracotta adds richness to the color of red wines and if very clear white wines are aged in the vessel, it will impart a very light color enrichment to the wine over time.