Sesti is an estate winery in the Argiano zone in Sant’Angelo in Colle in the south-west of the Montalcino region of Italy. The estate occupies the medieval Castello di Argiano, whose fortified tower dates from 1482. In 1979 Castello di Argiano was sold to the Sesti family by the neighbouring Tenuta di Argiano (which was in some financial difficulty). To avoid confusion an agreement was eventually reached whereby the Sesti family would label their wines under their family name rather than as Castello di Argiano. Sesti’s main wines are Sant’Antimo DOC, Rosso di Montalcino DOC and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG.
Owners: The Sesti family. Giuseppe and Sarah Sesti, and their daughter Elisa (see below). Giuseppe Sesti comes from Venice. “I loved wine as a child and did harvests with my friends, just for fun and a meal. In those days the old farmers were always talking about the Moon. ‘Don’t do this under this moon, don’t do that under that moon’. Then the chemical world arrived, and we were told that everything would become easier with the so-called miracle cures and we forgot, and we lost, a lot of knowledge as a result.”
Giuseppe Maria Sesti: Born 1942. He grew up and studied in Venice, then at Fez University, Morocco in the 1960s. Eclectic by nature, he dedicated himself to the history of astronomy, on which subject he has written ﬁve books, both on ancient calender systems and the story of the Celestial Sphere. His study of both the Classics and Oral tradition brought him to re-evaluate the inﬂuence of the moon on the vines and in turn the making of the wine itself, reducing to the minimum the level of sulphites used. He had already published tables of the small and larger Moon cycles for agricultural use in order to reduce the use of chemicals on the land by the time he moved to the medieval hamlet of Castello di Argiano in 1975. He had been looking to find a peaceful spot whilst tasked with organising the festival of Baroque opera in nearby Batignano (which he did for thirty years). The estate had gone bankrupt 15 years before. “It took me two hours with a sickle to reach the front door when I looked at the estate to buy it”, he says. He restored the cellars and planted of olive groves and the vineyards.
Elisa ‘Elli’ Sesti: Having spent a year at the Sorbonne, she took her Degree in Theatre Design and Classical Architecture in London. In 1999 she returned to Italy to help with the expansion of the family wine estate of which she is now co-director. She did 4 years of vineyard and cellar work, assemblage and office work until 2003. She was then responsible for international wine presentations and sales. From 2010 she has been in charge of the winemaking process.
Vineyards: The Sesti estate consists of 102 hectares (254 acres) of land, of which nine hectares are planted to vineyards. The rest is given to olive groves, grazing or woodland.
Budwood: Giuseppe Sesti planted his vines using cuttings from local growers, like the Francesci family (of Il Poggione in nearby Sant’Angelo in Colle). Sesti told me he would ‘visit their vineyards at harvest and mark the best looking vines with string. If I marked the same vine for three years I would take a cutting. I was looking for quality, not yields, so I would select Sangiovese bunches with small grapes, but not too compact.’
Bottling: Giuseppe Sesti told me he bottles his wines according to the barometer and to the Moon’s ascending-descending phase. “I do not like to bottle during a period of low pressure, preferring high pressure periods when liquids like wine are most steady and still. I have no scientific explanation for this, but it feels right, and the old-fashioned farmers I remember did it this way too. I also look to the wind, and wait if I can until there is no north wind”. Sesti says he bottles his only white wine, a Sauvignon Blanc, during the period of the ascending Moon because it “gives the wine extra zip” but the reds are bottled during the period of the descending Moon “as this makes the wines compact. But I try not to be hermetic in my methods, and am always open to new ideas.” See celestial cycles.
Toscana Bianc IGT, Sauvignon: 2004 Lovely clear soft grass and wild herb at Il Lecchio restaurant in Sant’Angelo in Colle on Monday lunch 13th June 2005 with Noemi Marone Cinzano, Jasper Guinness, Ellie Sesti and her mother Sarah, and Hans Vinding-Diers.
IGT Toscana Rosato: The first rosato to be produced in Montalcino. 100% Sangiovese grapes. Bottled in the spring, to be drunk young.
Rosso di Montalcino DOC Tim Atkin MW (2013: p.26) describes the Sesti wines thus: ‘soft, rich and comparatively early developing, but have a certain sense of style.’ Elli Sesti told me (18 Jan 2021) that the Rosso aged 15-18 months in medium-sized oak barrels, the aim being to create a Rosso with a sense of its own identity.’ | 2002 Nice soft ripe violets and blood, easy tannins at Il Pozzo with Hans Vinding-Diers on Friday 14th January 2005. | 2004 Clean, sweetish tannin, and bramble fruit (Anteprima 2006). | 2010 Deepish colour, pretty floral nose with nice soft depth at Il Marrucheto with Hans, Giorgio Gabelli, Bernardino Sani and the Man from Brazil on 11 June 2013. | 2011 16,500 bottles. Round, soft, quite deep, elegant, good, bit fluffy, light finish but good (Anteprima 2013. | 2012 16,000 bottles. Rich, sweet minty fruit, very nice (Anteprima 2014). | 2013 10,000 bottles. Botti. Lots of fruit, grainy tannin, quite intense for a Rosso, very drinkable, mid-ruby (Anteprima 2015).
Brunello di Montalcino DOG: 2001 Quite evolved with some chocolate, but fresh in texture (Anteprima 2006). | 2002 Bottled. | 2007 Bottled. | 2008 14,950 bottles. Quite deep, again with ripe fruit, nice flavour, showing well (Anteprima 2013). | 2009 12,500 bottles. Nice evolution, rich, ripe, wild (Anteprima 2014). | 2009 14.5%. L.13-05. Nice cedar nose and colour. Well textured, open fruit but quite an evolved colour at the Consorzio Tues 27th May 2014 with Ian d’Agata and others. | 2010 10,300 bottles. Slight garnet to the crimson, quite evolved in its way, may have lost some of its brightness already–or maybe a bit of cross vintage blending (Anteprima 2015). | 2011 Bit faded already and some funk (Osticcio 2016). | 2012 Evolved colour, rich, citrus, some fade, intense but also fluid (Anteprima 2017). | 2014 Bright pale garnet, delicate but intense fruit, underlying depth, very good (Anteprima 2019).
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva, Phenomena: The name ‘Phenomena’ commemorates a significant astronomical event which occurred during the year of the harvest given on the bottle. The wine label features a different image and colour each year, although both the Sesti family name and ‘Phenomena’ always appear on it. | 1999 Riserva [not yet labelled as Phenomena]. This has good weight and lovely fruit tannins and the oak in the background at Sesti on Saturday 15th January 2005. | 2005 Phenomena The label refers to a spectacular planetary encounter. After sunset on the 6th of September 2005 on the western horizon a conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter, the star ‘Spica’ (the ear of Cohn) was visible, together with the sickle of the new moon. The event took place over the constellation Virgo. | 2008 Phenomena 1,800 bottles. Garnet robe, deep and concentrated, rich tannin, sweet and savoury, very very nice (Anteprima 2014). | 2009 Phenomena 1,800 bottles. Lovely nose, violets and cherry, sweet fruit, maybe some brett too, elegant brightness and more obviously sweet fruit compared to thee Brunello annata 2010 (Anteprima 2015). | 2012 Phenomena Was bottled. | 2013 Phenomena. On the 28th April 2013 the planet Saturn was in full Opposition, visible throughout the night in the constellation of Libra.
Sprits: Grappa di Brunello
Castello di Argiano
Fraz. Sant’Angelo in Colle
I-53024 Montalcino (SI), Italy
Tel+39 0577.844113 (cellar) or 0577.843921 | www.sestiwine.com
Tim Atkin MW, 2013 Brunello Special Report.