On the Trail

The Mayor of Montalcino

David Driscoll

Our Italian buyer Greg St. Clair has been traveling to Italy for more than a decade on behalf of K&L. He's been to Tuscany so many times at this point he's known as "the mayor of Montalcino" among the locals. Lately, however, with the epic 2010 Brunello vintage and its score of sensational reviews whipping wine drinkers into a frenzy, Greg has been flying back and forth to the mother country more than ever, working to secure increased quantities of these bottles in the hope of satiating demand. I'm still trying to get Greg to do a little On the Trail blogging, but you can't always teach an old dog new tricks. In the meantime, I've at least got him sending me updates from the road with quick stories and explanations. 

After last speaking with Greg (him telling me ahout staying at the Ferragamo's Il Borro estate), I told him, "I need you to paint me a picture. Make me feel like I'm there with you." Thousands of Greg's Italian wine customers have spent the last ten years drooling over his tales from the road, wishing they could stow themselves away in his suitcase or be a fly on the wall at his tasting events. Stories of lush gardens, decadent dinners, and levels of wine consumption that reach legendary status. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, however, so I figured it was time we all saw for ourselves just how amazing Greg's journeys are. "Oh, and give some information about the wines, too!" I added.

The Il Borro estate was purchased by the Ferragamo family in 1993 and grows merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, chardonnay, and petit verdot, along with the standard Italian sangiovese on forty-five hectares of land. Salvatore's goal was to take a historic corner of Tuscany—one previously abandoned and in need of care—and resurrect it; not just in terms of wine production, but also as a tourist destination. Today Il Borro is both a winery and a resort, offering a variety of services to travelers visiting the region. The soils have a variety of mineral content making the area the perfect place to grow a diverse variety of grapes for winemaking. Greg's been holed up there all week, tasting samples from numerous producers and partying like there's no tomorrow. It's functioning as his office while in Tuscany.

In the house recently was legendary Tenuta Sette Ponti owner Antonio Moretti, who you might recognize as part owner of Prada. Alongside an appreciation for fine leather goods and handmade shoes, Moretti's family has been making wine for generations. Antonio eventually took over the Tenuta Sette Ponti estate from his father, and in 1999 he purchased Poggio al Lupo in Maremma; followed by a Sicilian estate called Fuedo Maccari in 2000. The Tenuta Sette Ponta Super Tuscans are some of the most stylish, savory, and powerful wines made in the region, always garnering huge accolades from the press. Greg would be visiting the vineyards at Settie Ponti the following day. But first—cigars.

Of course, few things pair better with sangiovese than pork and potatoes. You can't really recommend a Brunello to a customer until you know how it pairs with food, right? Look for more updates from Greg over the following week.

-David Driscoll