Grassy paths led me one day toward Cennatoio. They were succeeded by caravan routes, those mysterious and perilous byways that one chooses as one picks a tarot card. I recall, still today, spring or summer, those paths stretching toward a horizon on which the light smiles as if wrapped in a sumptuous purple shawl. I always remember a verse that, for a few moments, fully replaced a compass or a ... Read more
Grassy paths led me one day toward Cennatoio. They were succeeded by caravan routes, those mysterious and perilous byways that one chooses as one picks a tarot card. I recall, still today, spring or summer, those paths stretching toward a horizon on which the light smiles as if wrapped in a sumptuous purple shawl. I always remember a verse that, for a few moments, fully replaced a compass or a map. “You have in yourself blossoms and greenery / and that light that is beautiful to see.”. It was thus that Guido Cavalcanti dreamed of his lady, reclining amid the flowers, perhaps in the twilight of a long-past spring or summer day. That scene it seems was set at Cennatoio, which was the house of his dreams and the abode of his ineffable melancholy. Below the manor, it was possible to hear on calm autumn days the sound made by the water from the spring of the Greve as it rushed against the stones of Stinche Alte, the vast prison of the Republic of Florence when it was ruled by the Medici.
Friends and relatives of the prisoners would gather in the piazza in front of the villa to wave and make gestures (cenni) that they hoped would be seen by the prisoners in Stinche Alte prison, shrouded by the leaves of the surrounding forest. The practice accounts for the name Cennatoio. The gestures are now forgotten, dissipated in the aura of legend that the Chianti area has created around many events and customs and jealously preserved from one epoch to the next.
The path followed today is different. Cennatoio is now a wine estate that Leandro and Gabriella Alessi have managed since 1971. Despite the passage of the years, however, the property has remained the same, “beautiful to see,” as Cavalcanti said. Cennatoio commands a stupendous view of the Chianti countryside with its hills blanketed by vineyards and olive orchards and dotted by churches, castles and scattered stands of oaks, mighty trees that soar toward the sky high above. The special character of the soil, which is marly, stony and hard to work, and its exposure to the south, which is ideal for varieties like Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Trebbiano, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay, contribute in decisive fashion to the production of wines that are fine, robust and endowed with a delicate scent of iris. The premium vineyards at Cennatoio, separated by olive orchards, cover a total of 10 hectares (24.7 acres) and enjoy highly favorable exposure. The 600 olive trees are young, since the old orchards were devastated by a cold wave in January 1985. Those trees were a vital element not only of the estate's economy but also and especially of the Tuscan countryside. Four years ago, the estate adopted organic farming techniques. It uses only natural fertilizers and avoids herbicides to prevent losses among the bee population. The property has an orchard that yields various fruits from spring to autumn and a garden containing all types of herbs. But Cennatoio takes the greatest pride in its winemaking and its new cellars with their oak casks containing more than 600 hectoliters (15,790 U.S. gallons) and 300 hectoliters in French barriques and tonneaux, as well as modern vats. And there is a vinsanteria (Vinsanto aging room) in addition to the old cellars. All are employed in the production and aging of Cennatoio Chianti Classico. The wine benefits from the property's natural endowment as well as a system of vinification that faithfully reflects the ancient vinicultural tradition of the zone.
This area, which is rich in ancient and refined crafts, like the art of vinification, is the appropriate setting for an enterprise that, over time, has fused historic tradition with the vitality of man's labors. Read less