Rock star winemaker Sting has spoken out about the sleight of hand which led him to purchase Tuscan wine estate Il Palagio.
The Police frontman and his wife Trudie Styler purchased the run-down 16th-century Tuscan villa, located 45 minutes south of Florence, in 1997 from Duke Simone Vincenzo Velluti Zati di San Clemente.
He was offered a glass of wine to try by the Duke and enjoyed it so much that he purchased the property, although Sting later discovered that the wine itself was not from Il Palagio, or even Tuscany. It was a Barolo.
‘He offered us a glass of red from a carafe during one of our early visits to Il Palagio,’ Sting told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera’s Sette magazine.
‘We were negotiating the purchase. We liked the property a lot, even though it was in ruins. The duke asked me if I wanted to taste the wine produced by the estate and I said yes. It was an excellent wine and that convinced me to buy the vineyards as well. It was only later that we found out that the duke had served us a Barolo and not his own wine.’
A response from the Duke’s family
Updated 25 August 2021
The late duke’s son, Duke Simone Vincenzo Velluti Zati di San Clemente Jr has issued a passionate defence of his father against Sting’s allegations, reported by Italian newspapers Corriere della Sera and Il Fatto Quotidiano.
San Clemente Jr says, ‘Apart from the fact that an internationally experienced gentleman like Sting should not confuse Barolo with Chianti, Nebbiolo with Sangiovese, nothing could be more alien to my father’s character, habits, behaviour, in one word, to his spirit, than to behave like a swindling innkeeper.’
‘My father lived until 2012,’ he continued, ‘so Sting had time to allow him to personally retort to his suspicions, but the statement was not only in bad faith, but also so absurd as to sound like a boomerang. Instead, Sting decided to do it “a babbo morto” as they say in Tuscany, when the father has died.’
San Clemente Jr concluded by stating that Sting, ‘owes me and my family an apology.’
After getting over being duped and witnessing visiting guests emptying the estate’s own wine into a flower bed, Sting decided that the he needed to improve Il Palagio’s wines and reputation.
‘It was then that we decided to avenge ourselves and to show that it was possible to produce excellent wine from the vineyards at Palagio. Our whole Tuscan adventure has really been a way of getting our own back,’ he said.
Today the couple produce about 150,000 bottles of wine a year – a sparkling, a white, a rosé and three reds – made using native and international grape varieties according to organic principles. In 2020, renowned oenologist and consultant Riccardo Cotarella came on board to help produce their wine.