Lamberto Frescobaldi is one of Italy’s most famous winemaker, and quite possibly one of the most respected in the world. Coming from a noble Florentine family, the Marchesi Frescobaldi family has been a part of Tuscany’s history going back to the Middle Ages. Lamberto is the 30th generation of the Frescobaldi family, one of the oldest wine families in the world. The Frescobaldi Dynasty has been producing wines in Tuscany for over 700 years.
There are six distinctive estates in the Frescobaldi Group, Castello Nipozzano, Castello Pomino, Castelgiocondo, Tenuta Ammiraglia, Tenuta Castiglioni and Remole. Some of their more exclusive estates include Ornellaia, Masseto, Danzante and Luce Della Vite.
I had the opportunity to have lunch with Lamberto Frescobaldi and celebrate his newest estate in Chianti Classico, Tenuta Perano. Lamberto was charming and gracious and greeted us with a chilled glass of Alíe Rosé on a cold NYC afternoon. His personality and the rosé had a unique way of making you feel warm and comfortable. Lamberto’s presence filled the room and his engaging personality was genuine and warm. Everyone around the table was captivated by Lamberto’s stories of Tenuta Perano.
The Frescobaldi family is synonymous with Tuscany, with a kaleidoscope of vineyards in the region. The Frescobaldi Family had been seeking to fill a gap in their diverse portfolio of Tuscan vineyards. After 700 years of winemaking in Tuscany and many distinguishing properties throughout the region, the family still did not have vineyards in the historic region of Chianti Classico. Tremendous care and effort was taken to find the ideal property. Lamberto did not want to make just any Chianti, he wanted to make “spectacular Chianti”. Tenuta Perano was that property that would make “spectacular” wines for the Frescobaldi’s in Chianti Classico.
The Tenuta Perano estate is located in the heart of Chianti Classico in Gaiole. The property enjoys exceptional climate and soil. The vineyards are located 500 meters above sea level. This elevation is well above the altitude common for red variety grapes but Tenuta Perano has a natural amphitheatre that captures heat and sunlight. The combination of elevation, exposure, and the shape and slope of the vineyards offers extraordinarily unique qualities, that result in fruity aromas and great tannic structure.
Often times when you speak about Italy you speak Sangiovese. It is the most widely planted varietal in Italy, and definitely the most in Tuscany. Lamberto says, “When you pronounce the word Sangiovese, it does not mean anything. The significance of Sangiovese is its site. Everyone in Tuscany is using same varietal, so the most distinguishing feature is the site.” It takes people, knowledge and skills to make a great wine, but in the end if you have a great site you are leaps and bound ahead of everyone else in producing a higher quality wine. So for Lamberto finding the right site was the most crucial factor.
Lamberto visited Tenuta Perano was in 1992, and at the time, he says he was too young and the place was too expensive. He visited again in 2008, and still felt it was too expensive. Then in 2014 it all came together, all the stars were aligned and they were able to step in and lease the place for a few years, and later they bought the property.
Lamberto says, “to appreciate great wine is not to just drink it, it is about getting to know what is inside the glass and also what is around the glass. The story about the wine is very important.” When they bought the vineyards they made changes in the vineyards. They wanted to do green harvesting and shoot positioning. In the cellars they added smaller tanks, so they could have more control over fermentation process.
As the lunch progressed, Lamberto shared a special story of how the label of Tenuta Perano came to be. They had asked many artist and designers to submit proposals, but nothing seemed to resonate. Then one afternoon when Lamberto was driving on his moped and at a red light, in front of him was a 12th century palace of the Frescobaldi. It was at this moment he stopped to stare. He says he was at this red light many times, and many times he even crossed the red light, but this time he kept staring. He looked up at the palace and saw the coat of arms of the Frescobaldi family from the 12th century.
Lamberto took the historic coat of arms of the Frescobaldi family as the label for Tenuta Perano wines. The coat of arms had a lion representing strength, helmet for fighting(a symbol of the middle ages), there is a woman on top of the helmet to represent luck and a ribbon as the Frescobaldi family was into textiles. A logo representing the Frescobaldi’s family history was chosen to adorn the wine bottles, a symbolic gesture of the family returning to Chianti Classico.
2015 was a great vintage for Tuscany and an ideal one for the first release of Tenuta Perano wines. Winter was harsh and rainy. During spring, the temperatures were perfectly mild. They had a hot summer with two minor showers of rainfall. This was ideal as the vineyards are dry farmed, so a little rain in the summer was helpful. Throughout the summer they experienced hot days and cool nights. September and October were just as perfect. There were blue sunny skies throughout the fall months, which allowed them to pick slowly during the entire harvest season.
The Wines of Tenuta Perano
Tenuta Perano Frescobaldi Chianti Classico 2015 – The color is bright with a dark ruby hue. The wine is succulent, soft and velvety with lingering flavors of dark cherries and summer blueberries. The mid-weight mouthfeel offers layers of complexity, with fresh acidity and smooth tannins. A beautiful long delicate finish persisted on the palate.
Tenuta Perano Frescobaldi Chianti Classico Riserva 2015– The wine is mostly Sangiovese(95%) with a touch of Merlot(5%) from their estate vineyards. The estate vineyards of Perano are on a high elevation, so the wine is delicate. Lamberto describes the wine with passion, “The Riserva is like a Ballerina on toes. This is not a muscle wine, but instead, the wine is like a beautiful and elegant ballerina. It is gentle and graceful and like a ballerina, you will always remember her for her lovely performance.” The quality of this wine is not just about the power but is also about the complexity and the emotions it evokes on your palate.