Knowing what a finicky grape Pinot Noir can be, it takes a special personality to make it thrive in Tuscany, and Federico Staderini uses his agronomy experience, his passion for Tuscan history, and his incredible intuition to accomplish the feat. Seemingly weightless but densely packed with rich, complex flavors, this wine evokes oddly paired descriptors that in this case are perfectly apt: spicy yet velvety, crisp on the attack with a long, round finish, plums on the nose but sour cherry on the palate. Federico likens it to “the elegance and the levity of a sail blown by the wind on a luminous ocean.” Try it with homemade tapenade topped with an abundance of the best-quality olive oil you can get your hands on.
Several decades of work as an agronomist and enologist, not to mention being a native of Tuscany and an avid student of history, gave Federico Staderini all the tools he needed to ferret out this forgotten limestone terroir high in the hills of eastern Tuscany, known to the Etruscans long before him. We had known Federico when we collaborated at Poggio di Sotto and his Pinot Nero project at Cuna left our minds running wild with anticipation. After we toured his vineyards, which seemed abundantly healthy despite the tiny Pinot Noir clusters clinging to each vine, Federico’s pipette began to dip and tour through his small cellar of old barrels, each taste revealing a wine of strong, confident character and surprising finesse. Afterward, a vertical sampling of six older vintages confirmed what had to be tasted to be believed: Federico had unearthed the Holy Grail for producing age-worthy Pinot Nero in Tuscany, and we would import it to the United States for all of our clients to experience.
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.
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa