There are two contrasting faces to Geggiano. On the one hand, you have the splendid villa, an aristocratic mansion filled with gorgeous frescoes and luxurious eighteenth-century furniture, its impeccably curated gardens as classy as the magnificent interior. Conversely, below the villa lies the rustic cellar, a dimly lit cave full of cobwebs and the dank smell of damp earth. Two brothers run the place: Andrea, the salesman, is well-groomed and suavely dressed, often donning a jacket from a stylish Italian designer. In comparison, Alessandro, the winemaker, sports a big, unkempt beard and is missing a finger; the ones he does have are thick, rugged, and calloused. And the wine? Both faces are found in Geggiano’s 2016. Elegant yet rustic, it boasts lovely, deep, seductive fruit with a tannic kick and lingering flavors of the Tuscan countryside.
The brothers who run this estate boast a grand villa just outside Siena, a pope in the family, three last names, and some of the best Chianti Classico on the market today. Andrea and Alessandro Boscu Bianchi Bandinelli are the current proprietors of the Villa di Geggiano, a national monument that has been in their family since 1527. Geggiano follows the classic tenet that wine resembles its maker: these are distinguished, classy cuvées that nevertheless show the distinct stamp of the terroir. This Chianti earns the title of Classico not just by meeting technical requirements but with its full personality, which shows the balance of bright fruit, a deep, leathery core, and vibrant acidity that is the region’s signature.
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.
For the wines that I buy I insist that the winemaker leave them whole, intact. I go into the cellars now and select specific barrels or cuvées, and I request that they be bottled without stripping them with filters or other devices. This means that many of our wines will arrive with a smudge of sediment and will throw a more important deposit as time goes by, It also means the wine will taste better.
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