The Italian founder of Urlari, Roberto Cristoforetti, is a farmer, craftsman and innovator. He combines his skills and experiences in pursuing his dream of making good wine with the establishment of his Tuscan winery Azienda Agricola Urlari. He does this together with Jean-Philippe Fort, one of the most recognized and respected names among the great winemakers of Bordeaux. He combines art and science to create exceptional Grand Cru Classe wines.
Roberto was born in the village of Tuenno in Trentino-Alto Aldige, a mountainous region of northern Italy. Coming from a long line of farmers, his family owned apple orchards and when he was young, Roberto worked in the fields with his father. He developed a farmer’s sensibilities through his early experiences and to this day is a registered fruit grower in Italy and continues to oversee his family’s apple orchards.
Competition ski boots are handmade; tailored to fit the racers’ feet and adapted to their individual racing style. During his 37-year career, Roberto has worked with Lange’s engineers to innovate materials, modify hardware and create molds to improve the performance of the ski boots. He is named together with Rossignol/Lange as a designer on a registered patent to make the first carbon ski boot. Roberto created metallic gold colored ski boots worn by the great Italian skier Alberto Tomba to celebrate his 2 gold medals he won at the Calgary Olympics in 1988 and over the years he has collaborated with the Italian design firm Pininfarina, famous for Ferrari’s design, to create visually appealing designs. ski boots.
Roberto created boots for Alberto Tomba during his racing career and the two became good friends and often traveled together. Tomba’s well-known appreciation for fine wines was rewarded with invitations to visit the world’s best wineries and Roberto accompanied him on these visits. Between 1990 and 1998 they visited the vineyards of Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Margeaux, Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Lynch Bages in Bordeax, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti in Burgundy, Ornellaia in Tuscany and Santa Rita in Chile. In California, they were welcomed to Opus One, Beringer, Shafer, Mondavi and Atlas Peak. Roberto attributes his introduction to different styles of winemaking around the world and his passion for fine wines to his friendship with Alberto Tomba.
Roberto began to dream of experimenting with the different elements of winemaking that he had observed to make delicious wines. In 1998 he became a partner in a start-up Tuscan winery, Duca, but left the partnership in 2003 to create his own winery. Convinced that the soil and terrain of Tuscany provide the best wine-growing area in the world for a modern wine, he searched the area known as the Etruscan Coast of Tuscany until he found a field called Urlari that enjoys an elevated position, continuous exposure to the sun and rich virgin soil. He bought the field in 2004 and named his company after it: Azienda Agricola Urlari.
There may not be obvious parallels between making competition ski boots and making premium wines, but Roberto sees the similarities in the precision and attention to minute detail required to consistently achieve the highest level of craftsmanship. Roberto brings the same passion for innovation and attention to detail that are paramount to making world-class ski boots to the wines he makes.
Roberto spoke to several winemakers and in July 2008 met Jean-Philippe Fort, a member of Michel Rolland’s advisory team in Bordeaux, where they spent hours tasting the world’s best wines. They discovered that they were both attracted to the same style: powerful and intense, extremely complex but also perfectly balanced. Still, Roberto had to convince Jean-Philippe to consult a winery outside France, something Jean-Philippe had never done before. What convinced him, he says, were the essential elements of superior quality (terroir, vines, philosophy and vinification) that the winery already possessed, along with the knowledge that winemaking was still in the concept phase, a blank sheet of paper inviting him to experiment with different approaches and influence the wines from day 1.
Born in Bordeaux, Jean-Philippe has a master’s degree in biology from the University of Bordeaux. He has been working with Michel Rolland’s team for over 20 years and is known as a specialist in St. Emillion wines. Today, over 40% of its wines are “Grand Cru Classee” and include Chateau Angelus, a Premier Grand Cru.
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