On the border of Bolgheri, within sight of the legendary Sassicaia and equally-legendary Ornellaia, nestled in Tuscany’s gorgeous and golden-lit rolling hills, protected by surrounding forests, sits the former horse ranch and now premium wine producer Tenuta Sette Cieli.
I know that those rolling Sette Cieli hills are gorgeous because I’ve seen them. Over Zoom video.
I was supposed to see them in person, mind you, on a media jaunt, but the USA has so royally f*cked its response to the Covid-19 pandemic that I couldn’t legally take them up on their offer to visit even if I wanted to risk the travel at the moment. And considering how good there wares are, I juuuuust might have entertained the notion. They say that happiness is a choice, and so I’m going to just choose to be happy, rather than give in to the red-faced abject rage that fills my dark heart whenever I briefly consider the fact that I should have been standing in the golden sunlit on those hills, feeling the clay and limestone vineyard soils beneath my feet, and enjoying the sea breezes wafting in over the vines from a mere 12 kilometers away…
First, a bit of context: according to Ambrogio Cremona Ratti, Tenuta Sette Cieli’s Owner and Brand Ambassador, the estate owes its creation, at least in part, to the miracles of modern science. The house on the estate dates to the 1300s, and was abandoned for about five decades after the swampy lower elevations in Bolgheri were finally drained, effectively ending malaria in the area and engendering a migration of the local population to the easier-to-farm plains from the harder-to-work hillsides (theirs being about 400 meters in elevation). Tenuta Sette Cieli’s vines are hand-tended, a testament to the difficulty of farming this rocky locale.
So… on to the juice (before I start rage-typing)…
2016 Tenuta Sette Cieli ‘Indaco’ (Tuscany, $80)
“Malbec is a little more delicate in Tuscany,” cautioned Ratti during our video call, “but also rewarding.” This blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot (in roughly thirds) is a deep, powerful, and tangy homage to the fact that Bolgheri enjoys conditions similar to those of Bordeaux, where those varieties originated. Ripe and structured, with black olive and tobacco notes galore, this is a red that strikes a unique tone: French in spirit, Italian in style, and Mediterranean in conviviality.
2016 Tenuta Sette Cieli ‘Scipio’ (Tuscany, $110)
“You cannot make a great Cabernet Franc every year,” noted Elena Pozzolini, Tenuta Sette Cieli’s CEO and Winemaker since 2012. “Don’t force anything.” Spending two years in barrel and another two in bottle, this 100% Cab Franc brings a lot of vinous kung-fu. Earthy, spicy, and built around a tangy red fruit core, there are blue plums, crushed violets, dried herbs, blackcurrants, and wild, brambly berries all in friendly competition for your attention. Vibrant, with grip, there’s ruggedness here, and wildness, and great scaffolding in its tannic structure. And while it’s great now, it probably will be even better in a few years. Or when imbibed on the Tenuta Sette Cieli property in person… not that I’ll know what that’s like anytime too soon…