On sale from Wednesday May 14th, 2014 through Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 — This is one of the best Italian wines I’ve tasted this year, and if you love Sangiovese, you should keep reading! This is a wine that has a history of overshadowing and outclassing wines that cost a lot more. In fact, English wine writer and Master of Wine Jancis Robinson recently did a tasting of wines from 11 of Italy’s top estates (including Sassicaia, Antinori, and Ornellaia); the standout for her and the only one she wrote up in her newsletter was the Sesti Monteleccio!
What’s in the bottle here is pure Brunello di Montalcino “material,” and it’s from some of the best terroir in the region. In fact, Monteleccio is the local Tuscan dialect for Montalcino. Bottled with just a year of oak aging instead of the two years required to be labeled Brunello di Montalcino, the wine is 100% Sangiovese Grosso grown on Giusepe Sesti’s south facing slopes. These well exposed, arid, and rocky vineyards produce some of Montalcino’s finest wines, and this is one of the best values produced.
The Sesti Estate was founded in 1975 when Giusepe and Sarah Sesti relocated to Tuscany and purchased the abandoned ruins of the hamlet and castle of Argiano. They slowly and painstakingly rebuilt the estate to its former glory, and Giusepe planted his vineyards in 1991 after several of his winemaking neighbors suggested he do so. These days, Giusepe still oversees all aspects of winemaking, from vineyard to bottle, and his daughter Elisa is constantly by his side helping out as well. All of the farming is done according to the principles of biodynamics, the earliest form of organic agriculture. The Sestis farm this way because it produces better tasting and healthier fruit, not for marketing purposes.
The 2011 vintage was one marked by hot days and cool nights, the ideal conditions for yielding intensely flavored, ripe and rich red wines. You can definitely taste the vintage conditions in this wine. Ripe, rich and full bodied, the wine sports a nose of dark cherry, raspberry, currant, sun baked earth, mineral and exotic spices. The bouquet suggests that the wine might be sweet and lacking in Sangiovese’s natural freshness and brightness, but one sip and that notion is destroyed. This wine has nerve, power, and structure to balance it’s riper character. The flavors mimic the aromas, with a nice mix of black, blue and red fruit along with complex notes of earthy spice, flowers and mineral. Although delicious now, I would bet my store that this wine is going to be extraordinary in 3 to 5 years and that it will continue to offer pleasure through 2024.
Many producers with less rigid standards than Giusepe would bottle this wine as a Brunello and charge you $50+ for a bottle. And many wine shops would dismiss this wine as being “too hard to sell.” Not us, we take pride in finding you wines like this one that perform like those that cost double the price.