As many of you have come to know, we refer to our legendary Italian wine buyer Greg St. Clair as "the Mayor" because he's so famous in Tuscany the locals call him "the Mayor of Montalcino." As Greg travels through Italy in search of great wine for K&L, he keeps me up to speed with emails, voice messages, and photo texts—all of which I organize and turn into diaries here at On the Trail. On this past trip, Greg spent the night at Il Borro—a medieval-era villa deep within the hills of Tuscany, owned by (get this) the freakin' Ferragamo family. Yes, as in Salvatore Ferragamo, the luxury Italian fashion house famous for making shoes worn by Audrey Hepburn. The estate is more than 1700 acres of lush vineyards and olive trees surrounded by forest. Guess what Greg brought to drink for this important lunch? Two dynamic and inexpensive K&L direct import proseccos: the elegant Silvano Follador and the overachieving San Venanzio. "You're serving San Venanzio to the Ferragamos?!" I screamed at Greg over the phone.
"Hell yeah, I am," he responded. "It's delicious and it's perfect for the occasion."
I couldn't argue with that. I drank about a case of San Venanzio in the week leading up to Christmas. Something about that wine really hit the spot, especially considering the price we were able to negotiate.
As if having lunch with the Ferragamo brothers wasn't cool enough, Greg informed me that he'd be having dinner tonight with Antonio Moretti from Sette Ponti, who also happens to be part owner of Prada. I told Greg that I needed to come with him on his next trip over to handle all of his media. He sent me a text saying, "Send your wife instead, she'll be appreciated more!" Ain't that the truth. My wife loves Prada and Ferragamo shoes. The wines were a hit with the Italian businessmen, apparently. Greg popped and poured the San Venanzio to huge applause as the talk turned from wine, to food, to fashion, and back to wine again.
"Can you go to the window and take a picture of the estate?" I asked him, "I need you to paint me a picture. Make me feel like I'm there with you." For the last decade Greg's thousands of Italian wine customers have been 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.
"What are you snacking on?" I texted back (modern technology is a pretty incredible thing). The photo appeared a few minutes later. "How many bottles of San Venanzio prosecco have you opened?" I asked. Ten was the response. I guess when you get a room full of thirsty fashion moguls together and break out the fresh mozzarella with various cured meats it's easy to blow through the Italian bubbly.
If it's good enough for the Ferragamos, it's definitely good enough for me.