Brothers Andrea and Alessandro Boscu Bianchi Bandinelli are such classy gentlemen—suavely dressed, well mannered, and commanding a surprising mastery of the English language—that it is almost difficult to imagine them hard at work in an old stone cellar, with a backdrop of damp, moldy walls and cobwebs, crafting genuine and heartwarmingly rustic Sangiovese. Yet beneath Villa di Geggiano, the museum-like estate they run whose colorful frescoes and perfectly preserved antiques take us centuries back in time, something special is unfolding. The Geggiano winemaking operation is about as artisanal as can be, housed in a thirteenth-century cellar filled with nothing but old wooden casks, where the elixir of these Tuscan hillsides patiently blossoms to maturity. A lighter-bodied introduction to the estate, the Bandinello includes a dash of Ciliegiolo and Syrah alongside Sangiovese. Floral-scented with plenty of fresh, dark fruit, it is an entry-level ticket to everyday Tuscan contentment.
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.
Great winemakers, great terroirs, there is never any hurry. And I no longer buy into this idea of “peak” maturity. Great winemakers, great terroirs, their wines offer different pleasures at different ages.
Inspiring Thirst, page 312
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