Tenuta Sette Cieli, Tuscany

Tenuta Sette Cieli is the estate of the Ratti family, the dream in particular of Erika Ratti, who purchased land close to Bolgheri on a hillside overlooking the Mediterranean sea. In this coastal part of Tuscany they planted vines in the year 2000, 10 hectares of high-density vineyards planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec, and from the start, farmed organically.

Today Erika’s children, Ambrogio and Acqua, run the business, along with talented winemaker, Elena Pozzolini, who is also CEO of the estate. Native Tuscan Elena’s C.V. has seen her work in Mendoza in Argentina, the Mornington Peninsula in Australia and in California, so she has broad New World experience to add to her domestic career. She has been in charge of winemaking at Tenuta Sette Cieli since 2013.

The name ‘Tenuta Sette Cieli’ means ‘the Estate of Seven Skies’, so named because the property sits at 1,300 feet in elevation with beautiful views to the coast, though vineyards are sited at around 400 metres, next door to the original Sassicaia vineyards. Most of the vineyards are on terraces running down the slopes, thus maximising their sun exposure. Elena sites the proximity of the sea as a major factor in their climate, breezes helping to make their organic agriculture viable. Wines are aged exclusively in French oak barrels, and fermented with indigenous yeasts.

I tasted the two top wines of the estate, both from the 2016 vintage which Ambrogio says reminds him distinctly of the 2013 vintage, one of the best of recent years with the balance of rainfall and sunshine to ensure “beautiful ripening of the fruit.” Two other wines are made, the entry level ‘Yantra’, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and ‘Noi4’, which blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, and is a little different, being appellation Bolgheri, and the only one from vineyards at sea level. The other wines carry the IGT Toscana classsification.

This was my first encounter with this estate, and the two wines tasted are extremely good: plush, modern and full-bodied, yet with excellent balance. The wines are just arriving in the UK around time of publication of this article, and Lay & Wheeler carries various vintages of the wines.

The Wines

(2020) Named after the colour of the evening sky above the estate (indigo), this is a blend of equal parts Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, fermented with indigenous yeasts and spending 18 months in French oak barrels, 35% of which were new. It has a deep, saturated and vibrant colour. The nose is really very appealing, with incense and Sandalwood, a deep seam of blueberry and blackcurrant, and a touch of meatiness. In the mouth a surge of sweet, ripe, fleshy damson plum and blueberry bittersweet fruit, the oak just adding a chocolate and coffee sheen, but it is in the background, the polished, plush fruit pushing through against creamy tannins and balanced acidity. A terrific Bordeaux-style wine this, with an agile Itilianate acidity, and drinking beautifully now though worthy of cellaring for a decade or more. Price and stockists quoted at time of review are for the previous vintage.
(2020) From Tenuta sette Cieli's organic vineyards, this is 100% Cabernet Franc, fermented with indigenous yeasts and spending 24 months in French oak, 40% of which was new. It pours a very dense, opaque dark crimson, the nose offering some tapenade and charcuterie notes, but beneath a weight of glossy black fruits. A little hint of mint. In the mouth the creamy weight of smooth, unruffled black fruit flows across the tongue. There is an underpinning of coffeeish oak, very silky tannins and fine black cherry acidity, but the fruit dominates into a long finish. The Tannins reassert in the finish, and I suggest decanting this or cellaring for a few years. A very nice wine.

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