Il Palagio When We Dance Chianti 2017
Villa Il Palagio estate lies amid the rolling hills of the lush, fertile Tuscan countryside south of Florence. The private home of Sting and his wife Trudie Styler and the favorite retreat for their friends and growing family, this truly remarkable sixteenth-century estate nestles among the vineyards of the Chianti region. Il Palagio is set above the picturesque Tuscan town of Figline Valdarno. It has been the summer home for Sting and Trudie’s family for the last two decades, and the setting for many of their intimate parties, private concerts and anniversaries. The estate — the villa, its guesthouses, vineyards and olive groves — has been lovingly restored by Sting and Trudie, and is now a vibrant and fully functioning organic farm and vineyard.
From the mid-1500s Il Palagio has harvested, fermented and bottled its own wines. Sting and Trudie have gone to great lengths to keep the tradition alive. Using organic farming methods, they have replanted 27 acres of vineyards since 2000, resulting in four beautiful reds: Roxanne, Casino delle Vie, Sister Moon and When We Dance.
From its very beginning, in the 1500’s, Il Palagio has been an agricultural property. In the late 1700s the Martelli family purchased the estate, which grew in size with their prosperity. In 1819 it was sold to the Countess Carlotta Barbolani of Montauto, widow of the Duke of San Clemente. Il Palagio, in the family’s hands for 178 years, produced wine, oil, wheat, corn, sugar beets, peaches, apricots and cherries.
In 1990, Trudie Styler began what would become a seven-year search for an Italian retreat. In 1997 she found Il Palagio. With stewardship of the historic Il Palagio passed to Trudie and Sting, there followed a decade of restoration and expansion; hundreds of acres that had been sold off by the Duke were reacquired, doubling the size of the estate which now comprises 865 acres, much of it given over to forest. The buildings on the property— some of which date back to the 16th century—were restored and modernized.
Trudie and Sting have a well-documented commitment to philanthropic efforts. In 1989 they founded the Rainforest Foundation which has raised more than $40 million to support indigenous rainforest peoples and help them protect their ancestral lands. As a UNICEF ambassador, Trudie has raised $10 million for their efforts. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Il Palagio products is earmarked to benefit charities.
Famous for its food-friendly, approachable wines and their storied history, Chianti is perhaps the best-known wine region of Italy. This appellation within Tuscany has it all: sweeping views of rolling hills, endless vineyards, the warm Mediterranean sun, hearty cuisine and a rich artistic heritage. Chianti includes seven subzones: Chianti Colli Fiorentini, Rufina, Montalbano, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane, Colli Aretini and Montespertoli, with area beyond whose wines can be labeled simply as Chianti.
However the best quality comes from Chianti Classico, in the heart of the Chianti zone, which is no longer a subzone of the region at all but has been recognized on its own since 1996. The Classico region today is delimited by the confines of the original Chianti zone protected since the 1700s.
Chianti wines are made primarily of Sangiovese, with other varieties comprising up to 25-30% of the blend. Generally, local varieties are used, including Canaiolo, Colorino and Mammolo, but international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah are allowed as long as they are grown within the same zone.
Basic, value-driven Chianti is simple and fruit-forward and makes a great companion to any casual dinner. At its apex, Chianti is full bodied but with good acidity, firm tannins, and notes of tart red fruit, dried herbs, fennel, balsamic and tobacco. Chianti Riserva, typically the top bottling of a producer, can benefit handsomely from a decade or two of cellaring.
The perfect intersection of bright red fruit and savory earthiness, Sangiovese is among Italy's elite red grape varieties and is responsible for the best red wines of Tuscany. While it is best known as the chief component of Chianti, it is also the main grape in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and reaches the height of its power and intensity in the complex, long-lived Brunello di Montalcino
Elsewhere throughout Italy, Sangiovese plays an important role in many easy-drinking, value-driven red blends and on the French island of Corsica, under the name Nielluccio, it produces excellent bright and refreshing red and rosé wines with a personality of their own. Sangiovese has also enjoyed success growing in California and Washington.
In the Glass
Sangiovese is a medium-bodied red with qualities of tart cherry, plum, sun dried tomato, fresh tobacco and herbs. High-quality, well-aged examples can take on tertiary notes of smoke, leather, game, potpourri and dried fruit. Corsican Nielluccio is distinguished by a subtle perfume of dried flowers.
Sangiovese is the ultimate pizza and pasta red—its high acidity, moderate alcohol, and fine-grained tannins create a perfect symbiosis with tomato-based dishes, braised vegetables, roasted and cured meat, hard cheese and anything off the barbecue.
Although it is the star variety of Tuscany, cult-classic “Super-Tuscan” wines may actually contain no Sangiovese at all! Since the 1970s, local winemakers have been producing big, bold wines as a blend of one or more of several international varieties—usually Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot or Syrah—with or without Sangiovese.