It’s rare to find a wine that delivers both high quality and reasonable value, but the subject of today’s article does exactly that.
It was 1956 and Pierluigi Tolaini, “Louie” as he would come to be known, was just 19 years old. Growing up in Lucca during Post World-War II Europe, the Tolaini’s were humble, poor farmers. Life was a struggle. The small plot of dusty cropland the family farmed was barely enough to make ends meet. One cart. One cow. Those were the only tools that made their work easier.
Luigi was determined to help his family and one fateful day, with no more than $10 in his pocket and armed with a one-way ticket, he set out for the 30 minute walk to the train station. On that walk, he kept repeating a phrase to himself that sticks with me to this day: “I will never be poor again. I will never eat polenta again. I will never drink bad wine again and someday, I will make my own wine.”
Today, that dream is a reality so certain that it might as well be etched in stone. You might expect that time and success could effect some small change of heart within Louie. However, every time I have the pleasure to see him, I always kid him about polenta. His resolve is resolute. He continues to be faithful to his self admonished pledge all those decades ago.
The Tolaini estate lies in Castelnuovo Berardenga and covers approximately 50 hectares. From the beginning Pierluigi drew inspiration from the practices championed in Bordeaux and thus retained Michel Rolland to provide early, experienced counsel. From the 2015 vintage, winemaker Francesco Rosi is joined by Luca d’Attoma who has continued the pursuit of excellence at Tolaini.
The 2016 Tolaini Vallenuova Chianti Classico borrows its name from the official address of the winery. Owing to the more southerly, slightly warmer commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga, the 2016 Vallenuova showcases a rich looking garnet color punctuated by purple reflections.
On the nose, the wine is very expressive with aromas of black plums, crushed black cherry, licorice, warmed clay and spices. The flavors echo the aromas with an elegant, round mouthfeel that is as luxurious as it is typical. The freshness of the Sangiovese seems to elevate the entire package of this ripe, juicy wine. Better than its 2015 sibling. 93 points, about $19-25 so shop around. Find this wine.
Stay tuned for more from Tolaini in the coming weeks.