Tuscany. Close your eyes and whisper it under your breath. The name conjures up more than verdant rolling hills, dotted here and there with ancient towers and villages. More than great wine estates, with their rows of vineyards standing in perfect formation. More than lazy, hazy days of warmth and sunshine.
It’s also a philosophy of life, a way of living that combines great wine and great food, great art, great tradition, great know-how and great passion, and at the very heart of this wonderful ancient land stands Renzo Marinai, one of the most respected wine estates in all of Tuscany.
Renzo Marinai farm and vineyards snuggle in the Conca d’Oro, just minutes from the central piazza of the charming village of Panzano, half way between Florence and Siena. The final approach is via typical “strade bianche”, the unpaved “white” paths that epitomise Tuscany.
Once you arrive at the estate, the surroundings have a fairytale quality with picture postcard views in every direction, Cypress trees, cipressi in Italian – for centuries the mainstay of formal Italian gardens – as far as the eye can see.
The estate has long been a burgeoning, naturally biodiverse habitat, home to a wide range of vines, olive trees, wheat and woodlands, not to mention the wildlife it sustains; the lands support wild boar, deer, birds of prey, foxes, porcupines, badgers and even, of late, wolves.
It’s hardly surprising that this outstanding natural beauty should yield outstandingly beautiful wines, and with a little help from skilled winemakers, that’s just what happens.
The Renzo Marinai estate, called San Martino a Cecione, takes its name from the nearby ancient church of San Martino. The oldest structure on the farm is a watchtower dating from 1163 A.D. which was part of the Florentines’ defences against their traditional enemies, the Siennese.
Renzo Marinai himself took on the estate in 1996 and with the support of oenologist Giovanni Cappelli, completely reorganized its operations, converting it to an entirely organic farm. This was a logical step given that the farm had long been run along natural, biodynamic lines.
After almost two decades in charge, Renzo Marinai sold a majority interest in the farm to Tom Heidman, a Dutch national with a passion for wine and for Italy, and a background in the food and wine world.
Tom enlisted his Italian/Dutch friend Janmario Hero Reina to handle the running of the estate and to ensure, along with other members of the team, that the name Renzo Marinai continues to be a byword for great quality wine, olive oil and pasta.
For Tom and Jan, running San Martino a Cecione is a labour of love. As stewards of the land their aim is to nurture and respect it, and pass it on to the next generation in even better condition than when they came to it.
With every day that passes in this idyllic hideaway, as the vines grow older and the people learn the particular character of the soils, the wines have gone from strength to strength and now stand among Tuscany’s greatest.
Across the range, they show power, complexity, character, finesse and pure deliciousness.