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Il Palagio Casino Delle Vie 2013
The estate was in disrepair when they purchased it in 1999, and the vineyards were replanted over the next couple of years. These three wines were just the second release following this replanting activity.
The Villa Il Palagio perches elegantly at the top of a long steep drive, overlooking the distant Tuscan hills and the undulating countryside which has always had profound agricultural significance. The nearby medieval town of Figline Valdarno was known as the "barn of Florence" for its abundant corn supplies. Grains, wine, oil, sugar beets, peaches, apricots and cherries have long been grown here. The estate extends to some 350 hectares, much of the land given over to forest, incorporating some beautiful lakes.
Il Palagio has always been farmed. In the late 1700s the Martelli family purchased the property and as their wealth grew, so did the estate. In 1819 they sold to the Countess Carlotta Barbolani of Montauto, the widow of the Duke of San Clemente and it remained in this family’s hands for some 150 years. At the beginning of the twentieth century Duke Simone Vincenzo Velluti Zati di San Clemente commissioned several new buildings including a grain store, oil mill and wine production area. When Sting and Trudie first came across the estate in 1999, it had by then fallen into a state of disrepair. They set about the task of lovingly restoring the house, the outbuildings and the land to their former glory.
Il Palagio is now so prolific in output that Sting and Trudie have opened a farm shop selling everything made or grown on the estate, including fresh vegetables and fruits, and the local salami.
One of the most iconic Italian regions for wine, scenery and history, Tuscany is the world’s most important outpost for the Sangiovese grape. Ranging in style from fruity and simple to complex and age-worthy, as well as in price from budget-friendly to ultra-premium, Sangiovese makes up a significant percentage of plantings here, with the white Trebbiano Toscano coming in second.
Within Tuscany, many esteemed wines have their own respective sub-zones, including Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The climate is Mediterranean and the topography consists mostly of picturesque rolling hills, scattered with vineyards.
Sangiovese at its simplest produces straightforward pizza-friendly wines with bright red fruit and not much more, but at its best it shows remarkable complexity. Top-quality Sangiovese-based wines can be expressive of a range of characteristics such as sour cherry, balsamic, dried herbs, leather, fresh earth, dried flowers, anise and tobacco. Brunello expresses well the particularities of vintage variations and is thus popular among collectors who like to cellar the same wine over multiple years. Chianti is associated with tangy and food-friendly dry wines at various price points. A more recent phenomenon as of the 1970s is the “Super Tuscan”—a wine made from international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, with or without Sangiovese. These are common in Tuscany’s coastal regions like Bolgheri, Val di Cornia, Carmignano and the island of Elba.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.