The Simple Life

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Marco Casolanetti's beard has grown long and gray, giving him the look of a yogi as he stands in a high vineyard of central Italy's stunningly verdant Sant' Egidio valley, a blue strip of the Adriatic Sea visible in the distance.

"It is a beautiful situation here," Casolanetti says.

Indeed, his life in the Marche region with his partner, Eleonora Rossi, looks like Eden. Their estate, Oasi degli Angeli, comprises 160 acres on which they cultivate wheat, fruit, livestock and olives, along with vineyards from which they make minute quantities of wine with a cult following.

Oasi is best known for Kurni, a dark, rich and chewy Montepulciano red that has been compared to Amarone for its dense, high-alcohol style. With its dried and candied fruit notes, the wine can verge on sweet, but is balanced by bright acidity and fine tannins. As of its 20th anniversary, Kurni hasn't changed, despite the movement throughout Italy to lighter, more delicate wines.

But Casolanetti isn't worried that bucking the trend will hurt sales. "We have very low production so we have no problems," he says, climbing into his Range Rover to drive through dirt roads and pine forest to more vineyards. Oasi produces less than 600 cases of Kurni a year, with half the wine sold in Italy and half abroad. "The project is not to produce more wines, but to produce better wines every year."

In his past life in his twenties, Casolanetti was a design engineer who worked for Ducati motorcycles and Lamborghini in Bologna, where he lived with Rossi, then an actress and teacher.

Rossi's family had owned land in the Marche for centuries, but in the early 1990s...read the full blog (free) at winespectator.com