Wines to Seek Out
Elisa Sesti prefers to vinify her regular and Riserva Brunello di Montalcino wines for 39 and 51 months respectively in 30hL oak casks, which place "gentle brushstrokes on the wine," as she notes.
Yes, there is elegance, but make no mistake: these wines are still very much Brunello. They are brooding and dark-fruit toned — even aggressive at first sip — but they preserve the character of this unique clone of Sangiovese and never veer off into stewed fruit and excessive-alcohol territory, like so many today do. And while they need several years of bottle-aging to reach their peak, they show nicely in youth with ample aeration: the acidity is quenching, the tannins like cotton, but more importantly, the black cherry-tangerine-smoked meat tenor of Brunello is oh-so-enticing.
Another trait that makes Sesti unique is their ability to make non-Brunello wines from their estate vineyards. The Sauvignon and especially the Rosato are the perfect aperitivo for a balmy Tuscan evening.
Sesti Sauvignon Toscana
This pleasant and textural Sauvignon Blanc is a touch more reserved than your standard gooseberry snappers, and that's exactly the point. From a small vineyard surrounded by forest.
Sesti Rosato Toscana
Elisa Sesti noted that when they produced this — the first rosé in Tuscany — in 2003, there was confusion among authorities on how to classify it. That's what you get when you blaze a new trail, and to this day, this O.G. upholds its place as one of the finest examples of salmon-colored Sangiovese. There is a touch of strawberry-like fruit to complement the varietal character and a precise, spectacular mineral finish to keep you going for another sip.
Sesti Rosso di Montalcino
When assessing Montalcino estates, I begin here: with the winery's Rosso di Montalcino. You can tell a lot about the ethos of the winemaker based on how refreshing (or not) their Rosso di Montalcino is. At Sesti, the Rosso di Montalcino bodes well for the Brunello di Montalcino's to come, presenting precise raspberry-inflected cherry tones and a clean, mouth-watering finish to pair with a wealth of cuisine.
Sesti Brunello di Montalcino
Boldness is not the opposite of elegance. That's the lesson learned from this brooding, assertive wine that manages to glide across the palate with ease and finish like a receding wave. Sesti's unique microclimate likely accounts for much of this balance, but so does Elisa's winemaking skill, as the wine's élevage in 30hL oak casks (quite large) gives the wine a steady and slow maturation to smooth out the edges without losing its verve. The 2016 vintage of this wine is particularly excellent.
Sesti "Phenomena" Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
Each year of Sesti's Riserva Brunello di Montalcino takes its inspiration from a major celestial event that defined the vintage. It could be a solar eclipse, the transit of Mars through Aquarius, or a particularly intense meteor shower just after harvest. The tale is encapsulated on the label, and it serves to underline the astronomical passion of Sesti's founder.
But unique label aside, "Phenomena" is a phenomenal wine for the cellar. Made from "the best of the harvest, wherever it is" among Sesti's 4 hectares of Brunello-designated vineyards, the "Phenomena" takes Sesti's annata Brunello di Montalcino and ratchets up the intensity and energy by about 20% or so. It takes time to show its details, so be sure to give it a few hours of oxygen if you pull the cork while it is young. Your reward will be Sesti's signature minerality and freshness complemented by the power and intensity Brunello is famous for. Only 3,500 bottles are made each vintage.