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A taste of Tuscany

Roberto Guldener

Although it took place many years ago, I often think of an incident that happened one evening on our porch.

Our friends Roberto and Maja Guldener were visiting our island from Tuscany. I offered wine and thought that it would be interesting for them to try something that might be new for them; maybe from Argentina, New Zealand or even California. Roberto rather surprised me by asking if it would be possible to have a glass of their Super Tuscan that they called Campaccio.

Of course they could, but I had to ask why.

He explained that the wine was influenced by the conditions in which it found itself: the bouquet of a Bermuda garden, the sound of tree frogs, the salt in the air and so on. I would venture that it works well for the 70 per cent sangiovese and 30 per cent cabernet sauvignon as I feel fairly safe in saying that it has been the most asked for Tuscan blend here for decades.

The letter that Roberto sent to his importers yesterday told of his first contact with Tuscany, when as a small boy he would help his Uncle Menotto carry thousands of straw-covered bottles to the Casa cellar.

It was a fond memory and the smell of the straw unforgettable, but he was destined for different work. He followed in his father’s footsteps, in a high fashion boutique on Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich.

Despite this, he and his wife dreamt of making wine on the rolling hills of Tuscany and in 1989 they established Agricola Terrabianca at Radda in Chianti, They met oenologist Vittorio Fiore and learnt of the effort, imagination and creativity that it took to make exceptionally fine wine. Campaccio and Croce Chianti Classico Reserva were born.

Sadly, for me anyway, they decided in 2009 to sell and move on to a new venture. When my wife and I visited the 307 acres of vineyards, olive groves and woodlands last year it was under French ownership. The chalky, sandy and clay soils (hence Terrabianca or white earth) just did not seem the same. The letter yesterday announced that Roberto has gone back to his roots and, happily, Terrabianca is back in their hands! During negotiations, shipments were held up and so we happen to be out of bottles of Campaccio, but there is much more to offer from this historic estate first mentioned in documents dated 1085.

I said no Campaccio bottles, but we do have a few sizes. If you just want a glass of wine for yourself and a friend how about our 2013 half-bottles, at $16.30 each. You will enjoy a lively, deep ruby colour along with bright berry fruit, cocoa, toasted almonds and leather. I also remember how Roberto and Maja felt elegant and smooth Campaccio worked so well with many sea foods.

A beautiful, three-litre double magnum would be ideal for a dinner party for ten or 12 and we have these from the 2011 vintage. Well-respected critic Antonio Galloni rates it 92/100 and comments: “A real sense of direction and focus that is going to need time in the bottle to open up with sweet dark cherry, plum and liquorice. New leather and spice notes wrap around the seductive finish.” $158.60. As this review was written some time ago, I suggest that now is the time for this treat.

We even have a stunning package for you if you are entertaining 40 to 50 of your closest friends and it is from the 2012 vintage that www.poshslosh.co.nz describes as: “Ample and elegant bouquet of berry fruit, chocolate and roasted almonds. Firm, structured palate length and depth.” Imagine pouring from a 12-litre bottle (16 regular bottles). It truly puts on a show. $611.30.

We have other Terrabianca wines, but let me finish with a true gem and I refer to our 2009 Campaccio Reserva that is a blend of equal parts of sangiovese and the finest cabernet sauvignon clones. Galloni rates it 93/100 and commented in July of 2015: “A gorgeous wine to drink now and over the next decade. Open-knit, expressive, this 2009 graces the palate with a compelling mix of blue and black stone fruits, liquorice, graphite, smoke, tobacco and incense. Sweet silky tannins give the finish an extra degree of sheer appeal.” Magnums $99.85.

Later in the autumn we should once again have good supplies of the standard bottle sizes.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm