Words: Leonardo Bassano
The story of the Cecchi family began in 1893, with Luigi Cecchi and his formidable tasting talent. Fast forward to the 1930s, and Cecchi wines were being exported outside Italy. In the 70s, the family moved to Castellina, the historical Chianti Classico production zone. In the 80s they invested in San Gimignano, and then in the 90s, they purchased the vineyards of Val delle Rose in Maremma. At the turn of the century, the estate crossed regional borders and invested in Umbria, with Tenuta Alzatura in Montefalco. In 2015 Cesare and Andrea, the fourth generation, returned to Castellina, with the purchase of Villa Rosa.
The oldest of the family estates is Villa Cerna, the vineyards of which stretch across the first hill that you come across when arriving from Siena. The historical estate is 280m above sea level and the exposure of its vineyards, the diversity of the soils, and the micro-climatic nuances create the particular features of the wines crafted here. The estate now comprises of 80ha of vineyards planted with Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Colorino Toscano.
At Castel Montauto the vineyards are densely planted, allowing for lower yields. Twenty of the estate’s 48ha are planted with Vernaccia at 300m above sea level. In Maremma, the Val delle Rose now consists of 150ha with a new cellar equipped with the latest technologies in winemaking for the production of fresh Vermentino and Morellino. Tenuta Alzatura, in the Sagrantino di Montefalco production zone, has three vineyards, and the terroir of each expresses unique social and cultural roots of local viticulture.
I met Isotta, from the Cecchi Marketing team, who showed me around the main winery in Villa Cerna. A wonderful place where tradition, history and modernity combine. Isotta is young and smart, and when I was asking my usual questions about soil/winemaking, she showed off her knowledge and business acumen. This demonstrates how this family business combines a passion for great wines produced from unique terroir, with a market-driven approach and consumer focus. I was then treated to a wonderful lineup of wines for our degustazione.
Vermentino Litorale 2016, Val delle Rose: smell of sea breeze, herbs, apples, pears, beautifully easy to drink, but with great character, perfumed, crisp, fresh and dry. Aurelio 2015: on the nose, lots of ripe red and black fruit, pepper, cedar, tomatoes and rosemary. Fantastic balance between acidity, tannin and fruit concentration.
Morellino di Scansano Riserva 2011, Poggio al Leone: perfumed nose (roses and violets), a crisp palate, quaffable but with great structure.
Ciliegiolo 2015, Maremma: this was the unusual one. Good red fruit, very cherry-like, medium tannins, good acid, very singular and characterful with hints of dark chocolate.
Chianti Classico 2014, Cecchi (6 months in oak): vibrant nose, lively, flowers, cherry. Lovely drinking, smooth tannins, good acidity, easy to understand, crushed red plums.
Villa Cerna Chianti Riserva 2013: Primary, secondary and some tertiary aromas too. Earth, mushrooms, sweet spices, cloves on the nose. Very soft tannins, subtle, crushed ripe cherries, crisp. This wine is very enjoyable now but can also age 10 or 20 years. Elegant and expressive.
A big thank you to Isotta and the Cecchi team. Great wines, great people. This brief visit was inspirational and makes me want to return to Tuscany.