The November light was draining from the sky when I arrived at Sesti. By the time we sat down to taste, the stars were beginning to glitter in the chill night sky, just as they do (in graphical form) on the winery’s wine labels.
Scroll down for Andrew Jefford’s top wine picks from Brunello di Montalcino
This lonely 13ha estate lies close to Sant’Angelo in Colle, to the south of the Brunello di Montalcino region; it looks out across the Orcia Valley to Monte Amiata, southern Tuscany’s highest peak (1,738m). Proprietor Giuseppe Sesti, author of The Glorious Constellations and other scholarly works on astronomy and art, chose the property as much for its views of the heavens as for its sub-lunary attractions. It lies on a ridge; its tower resembles the prow of a boat.
I chatted to Giuseppe’s daughter Elisa Sesti. She remembered the early years. Her mother, Sarah Reeve, is from Shropshire, hence Elisa’s impeccable English, and the place was a ruin when the family arrived in the early 1970s. ‘It took my mother three hours to hack her way in. The property had been abandoned after World War II , when the sharecropping system collapsed. The locals claimed it was a nest of vipers. Getting rid of the brambles took three years.’ Her childhood was one long renovation. She showed me the chapel, with its ornate chandelier. ‘We cleaned it over one winter, using toothbrushes.’ You’d never know all of this now, from the deftly restored buildings, the beautiful gardens and the pristine cellar with its stored bottles, its polished tasting table and its racked casks.