Elena Lapini and her husband, Luca Polga, are the type of bon vivants you’d more expect to encounter in the Beaujolais than in Tuscany: down-to-earth, quick to laugh, and always eager to pull a cork and whip out a homemade salame. The Chiantis they craft from their little hillside vineyard overlooking the town of Greve are classic Tuscan country wines, brimming with earthy flavors of the land and right at home alongside the rustic local cuisine. The cool 2014 vintage provides a level of drinkability not typically associated with Sangiovese: you’ll find that jovial Beaujolais spirit in this bottle, with bright red fruits, a balsamic, herbal note, and supple tannins—all with a savory Tuscan twist. You’ll definitely want to get that salame and pocketknife ready for this one.
Almost all of the growers with whom we work manage “small family farms.” Then there is Podere Campriano in Greve, who prove the statement more literally than just about anyone. This Tuscan family lives in a humble farmhouse atop a small hillside of 2 hectares of Sangiovese vines. This is their organically pampered backyard from which they craft a delicious Chianti Classicos in the stone cellars beneath their home. The Campriano red wines are traditionally made and reflective of the unique terroir of the Alta Greve—dark, galestro schist infused wines with bold fruit and serious depth. The extreme care and focus of the Lapini family and their dedication to organic agriculture impart a unique character and spirit upon their wines.
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.
Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch
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