In 1969, Swiss architect Wendel Gelpke retired to Florence, Italy, where he planned to spend his days among his papers in his villa's library. Fate intervened. Soon after Gelpke arrived, his friend the Marchese Ippolito Niccolini asked Gelpke to accompany him on a drive out of town to take one last look at "Corzano," the Nicolini family's farm 17 km south of the city.
Corzano sits like a natural stone outcrop, a serrated edge along the hilltop horizon. The building was constructed centuries ago from fieldstones as a watchtower overlooking the valley leading from Florence to Siena. The estate had fallen into disrepair, but Gelpke instantly fell in love with its wild beauty and shocked his friend the Marchese with an offer to buy the property on the spot. The Marchese relented, on the condition that Gelpke not divide the 70-hectare estate, and the estate changed hands for the first time in more than 700 years.
Gelpke relocated to Corzano with his seven-year-old son, Till, and his nephew Aljoscha, and the family sheepdog, Joscha. There was no running water, heat, or modern equipment on the farm, but together, the old man, two boys, and their dog cleared the land with a herd of sheep. They created one of Tuscany's most meticulously farmed small estates.
Nearly forty years later, Till is an internationally renowned cheesemaker and Aljoscha oversees Corzano e Paterno's growing and winemaking. In the 1980s, Aljoscha pulled up all but the best Sangiovese vines and replanted the estate's vineyards to low-yielding Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. Aljoscha's "Il Corzano" is a gorgeous wine, a blend of the old-vine Sangiovese and Cabernet, with a little Merlot added for texture. It's one of Tuscany's most powerful and elegant red wines. Drink for the next 5-10 years.
Suggested Food Pairings:
Drink on its own or with a perfectly ripe piece of Parmesan, some good bread and olive oil.