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Some of Tuscany’s Best Sangiovese from a “Lunatic” in Montalcino

Some folks think that Venetian-born Giuseppe Sesti is a lunatic. A student of music, art, and astronomy, the last of which became his profession, Giuseppe eventually fell into winemaking after restoring the abandoned ruins of the Castello di Argiano that he purchased in 1975. The castle is located just a few miles southwest of Montalcino and was once an ancient Etruscan outpost. It is there that breezes from the Tyrrhenian Sea and sandy, tufaceous soils produce Sangiovese-based wines of refinement and exuberance.

Before planting his own vineyards in 1991, Giuseppe spent much of his free time visiting local wineries and helping out his neighbors in their vineyards and cellars, gaining the experience that would bring him the recognition he sees today.

The claim by some that Giuseppe is a lunatic comes from his study of both the classics and oral tradition that brought him to re-evaluate the influence of the moon on the vines and in turn the making of the wine itself, allowing him to reduce sulphites to a bare minimum. Indeed, ln I975 he had already published tables of the small and larger moon cycles for agricultural use in order to reduce the use of chemicals on the land. This account by Giuseppe himself gives you an idea of how influential oral tradition was to him. This is about as “old-world” as winemaking gets.

Today, Giuseppe’s daughter, Elisa, who grew up at the estate, is an active partner in all aspects of the vineyard management and winemaking. She continues the eco-friendly philosophy adopted by her father. Elisa’s primary concern is the raw material that goes into the wine. Because, as every great winemaker will tell you, wine is made in the vineyard first. The estate totals about 22 acres of vineyards (a little over nine acres are in the Brunello zone) and production is small.

All prices based on the purchase of six or more bottles (mix and match).

~$22 “Monteleccio” (Toscana IGT 2016)

The name “Monteleccio” is an Italian version of the Latin name “Montalcino,” meaning “hill of the holm oaks.” The wine is produced from 100% Sangiovese that ages for one year in 30 hectoliter oak botti before release. Aromatics of cherry licorice and sun-drenched Mediterranean scrub precede a sip that is simultaneously complex and easy to drink. The generous fruit is bittersweet in the best way possible. “Monteleccio” is a superb value that will elevate any pizza night.

~$31 Rosso di Montalcino (DOC 2016)

100% Sangiovese from five acres of vineyard with characteristic oceanic sediment. The wine ages for 18 months in 30 hectoliter oak botti before release. The world’s leading authority on Italian wine, Gambero Rosso, has awarded this lovely expression of the Tuscan hills it’s highest rating of Tre Bicchieri (Three Glasses) — an award that only the top wines of Italy will ever receive. A medley of alluring scents rise from a glass: summer fruits, sandalwood, and rose, to name but a few. A sip is fresh and concentrated with fruit, with a plump mid-palate, and a lengthy, mineral finish. It’s a wine with Brunello di Montalcino vibes, without the Brunello di Montalcino price.

$99 Brunello di Montalcino (DOCG 2013)

100% Sangiovese from nine acres of vineyard with characteristic oceanic sediment and vines planted from cuttings taken from very old, neighboring vineyards over twenty years ago. The wine ages for four years in 30 hectoliter oak botti, and a further year in bottle before release. The wine captures the best elements of the excellent 2013 vintage with rich fruit, a polished mouthfeel, and a firm but integrated tannic backbone. It is one of the year’s best Brunello di Montalcino wines that will reward a patient drinker.


For a deeper dive into the philosophy of Sesti, the present state-of-affairs of Brunello di Montalcino, and some beautiful drone footage of Castello di Argiano, check out this interview with Giuseppe.

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Posted on 2019.08.22 in Italy, Saturday Sips, Tuscany

 

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