Thanks to the wonderful generosity and friendship that I have with the Cecchi Family - I was again offered the opportunity to base myself at one of their hill top cottages situated on the stunning property and vineyards of Montauto, with a view looking across the valley to the town of San Gimignano in the heart of Tuscany, Italy.
I have had the pleasure to spend time with the Cecchi family on several occasions over the years. Working closely with the brothers Cesare and Andrea Cecchi who run this dynamic wine business; and whom share their unlimited spirit, determination, enthusiasm and passion for wine and all with an Italian flare and style in everything that they do.
The family homestead where their mother Anita lives - located in Castellina in Chianti, is an area which has crafted traditional Chianti wines and in grape production for almost 1,000 years. Their impressive white-stone office located across the road from these hillside vineyards, combines a modern winery and cellars; equipped with the latest winemaking equipment, bottling and packaging, enabling their talented team to craft their quality range of wines.
On this visit I had the opportunity to visit three of their four wineries - with three located in renowned DOC(G) zones of Tuscany and Umbria: Villa Cerna in the Chianti Classico region, Castello di Montauto at San Gimignano, Tenuta Alzatura at Montefalco in Umbria and their nearly completed winery of Val delle Rose near Grosseto in Maremma.
Cesare and Andrea along with their extremely focused team, work hard not to lose touch with their own history, and the diverse ‘terroir’ - while continually looking to push themselves to do better each vintage and with each unique vineyard site and grape varietal. They balance tradition with modern science, along with vineyard locations, grape selection - with local and international pressures on every wine they craft.
I have said this before on many occasions - it is clear to me each time I taste the Cecchi range of dynamic wines - when Andrea talks about crafting ‘traditional wines’, he does not mean he is making ‘old style wines’, as Andrea reminds me every time we share a glass of wine: “The future should not be a repetition of the past, but an improvement on it." After working through today’s flight of Cecchi wines - it is much easier to understand this skill and philosophy.
The Cecchi has been at the heart of Tuscany’s most important innovations, working on developing better vineyard management, and developing more international wine styles that are being enjoyed the world over. Though several of their more serious wines will repay patience and time in ones cellar, their wines have this genuine approachability with forward fruit, elegance on the palate, and with a lingering finish.
On several occasions over the past 6 years I have made my way to the picturesque costal area of Maremma in Southern Tuscany, to see the carefully planned and constructed project which is their new winery development and cellars called ‘Val delle Rose’. This exciting wine region with its rolling hills, located near the coast is fast developing a reputation for producing wines of quality and honest personality. The Val delle Rose property was established back in 1996 - after several years of in-depth research the family purchased the Val delle Rose estate and have invested a significant amount of time and money into replanting vines and building one of the world’s most advanced wineries.
With the winemaking facilities completed last year in 2012 and with a little more investment and work - they hope to complete the offices, receptions areas, restaurant and accommodation by the end of 2014. The Val Delle Rose winery has the ability to respect but also treat each parcel in such an incredibly controlled fashion is the envy of winemakers the world over - this place is something to see, plus the wines are as bright and approachable as the people that work on the property.
Last year they were awarded the highest accolade in the country for building a bespoke water recycling, phyto-treatment plant for the regeneration of waste water on the site - just another example of the family respect and investment in a positive future.
We made our way through the different vineyard sites on this sun drenched piece of land on the Tuscan coastline, a short drive south of Bolgheri and Morellino di Scansano, a classic area for Sangiovese. Val delle Rose’s vineyards are planted on a multitude of hillside slopes in great aspects at approximately 150 metres above sea level, providing wonderful sun exposure, which is moderated by the cooling sea breezes from the coast which you can see from the hilltops some 10kms away.
One of the many highlight of this years visit to Cecchi - was having the opportunity to work through several of the wine barrels in their cellars with Miria the winemaker, whom has been working at Cecchi for some 20 years and involved at all levels of the production of these wines. It was an incredible insight into both understanding the terroir from which each wine came, but also understanding the choices made by the winemaking team on fermentation and yeast used for each parcel, the different growing seasons and which type of oak, toasting and length of time is used - a great experience and tasting.
Every year I spend time with the talented team here at Cecchi; you develop an understanding that everything they do starts and ends with their vines, the Cecchi philosophy is to respect but also improve every aspect of the winemaking process. Cecchi is well positioned to tackle virtually all challenges that the future may present. The Cecchi brand and diverse range of wines has been exciting both ‘old’ and 'new' wine enthusiasts around the world now for a number of years - as the wines from Cecchi are not only great expressions from Tuscany, but are some of the best wines in the world.