Before becoming one of Italy’s legendary wines, Brunello was a rarity produced only by a handful of families in the rural hills of southern Tuscany. By the time Giuseppe and Sarah Sesti moved to the area in 1975, word had begun to spread about the noble local red. One of few English speakers in the area, Giuseppe volunteered his services to help translate for visiting journalists and sommeliers, consequently spending many hours in the cellars of the appellation’s pioneering producers. Twenty years later, the couple had planted their own vineyard on the perfectly exposed, well-ventilated slopes surrounding their home. The time had come to apply the knowledge Giuseppe gleaned from those artisans responsible for forging Brunello di Montalcino’s reputation. Tasting the Sestis’ 2012 Riserva, one is tempted to imagine this is how the historic wines from Montalcino’s early days might have tasted. It is a hauntingly fragrant Brunello whose raw power takes a back seat to utter delicacy and grace.
Giuseppe Sesti didn’t initially choose a career in wine. Instead, he was inspired to study music, art, and astronomy, the latter becoming his profession. He met his future wife in Wales while writing his first book, and in 1975 moved to Tuscany, purchasing the abandoned castle of Argiano, slowly restoring the breathtaking estate later planting his vineyards around the castle. In 1999 the Sesti’s daughter, Elisa, joined the estate full time, becoming a partner in all aspects of production. The Sesti lineup includes a white Sauvignon and a Rosato, but their Brunello, Brunello Riserva, and Rosso di Montalcino provide traditional expressions of the appellation, robust and powerful yet refreshing, with great aging potential.
Perhaps no region is tied to Italy’s reputation as a producer of fine wine as much as Tuscany. Since Etruscan times, viticulture has played a prominent role in this idyllic land of rolling hills, and the Tuscan winemaking tradition remains as strong as ever today. With a favorable Mediterranean climate, an undulating topography offering countless altitudes and expositions, and a wealth of poor, well-draining soils, conditions are ideal for crafting high-quality wines. Add to that the rich gastronomical tradition—Tuscany is home to some of the country’s finest game, pastas, salumi, and cheeses—and you have the blueprint for a world-class wine region.
This is Sangiovese territory; in fact, it is arguably the only place in the world where Sangiovese reaches a truly regal expression. In spite of a rocky history with fluctuations in quality, traditionally produced Chianti has reclaimed its status as one of the country’s most reliable, food-friendly reds, while the rapid rise of Brunello di Montalcino shows the grape’s potential for grandiose, opulent reds allying power and finesse. Traditionally-minded growers have stuck to using only indigenous grape varieties and employing techniques like aging in massive wooden casks known as botti, creating wines of terroir that shine at the Tuscan table.
Tuscan wines have had a place in our portfolio since Kermit’s first visit in 1977. While the names of the estates have changed, the spirit of those first unfiltered Chiantis he imported live on through our current selections.
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