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Principe Corsini, Villa Le Corti

To fully appreciate the engagement with the present, one needs to understand the evolution of the past. This is most definitely the case here at Villa Le Corti.

The Corsini lineage can be traced back nine centuries, this Florentine family's ancestors include: Pope Clemente XII (Lorenzo Corsini), and a saint, the Bishop of Fiesole (Andrea Corsini).

The family's wealth was created by brothers Filippo, Bartolomeo and Lorenzo in the mid 16th century, due to commercial ventures throughout Europe, reinvesting profits in real estate and land acquisition in Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio.

The importance of Lorenzo Corsini alias Pope Clemente XII (1652-1730) cannot be underestimated, as far as family prestige is concerned, apart from his devoutness, he also possessed great knowledge of the financial world.

He was responsible for the foundation of the Capitoline Museums, four grand and historic palazzos designed by Michelangelo, the collection devoted largely to the history of Rome, many artefacts dating back to antiquity, considered to be the world’s original museum. Opened to the public in 1734 by Pope Clement XII.

In addition, he was fundamental in the commission of important works in Rome: the Trevi Fountain, the new facades of San Giovanni in Laterano and Santa Maria Maggiore, the facade of the Palazzo della Consulta, as well as the ports of Anzio, Ravenna, Ancona and Pescara.

Andrea Corsini (1302 - 1374) was Bishop of Fiesole and a member of the Carmelite order, was canonised in 1629 by Pope Urban VIII.

The Carmelite is one of the four great mendicant orders. This order of Brothers and Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel; known as Carmelites or sometimes by the synecdoche known simply as Carmel.

Recent history of this illustrious family brings us to Tommaso Corsini, a deputy in the Kingdom of Italy (1865 - 1882), then a senator for life. Founder of Fondiaria Assicurazioni, president of the Casa di Risparmio di Firenze, and an eminent archaeologist.

His nephew Prince Tommaso VIII Prince of Sismano in Umbria (1903 - 1980); took part in the drafting of the Constitution Charter of the Italian Republic. An expert in agriculture and livestock, he contributed fundamentally to the modernisation and recovery of these two sectors in Tuscany and Umbria.

In bringing these historical figures to you I am only scratching the surface of the importance of this hugely successful, ancient noble family.

The land that was to house Villa Le Corti, was purchased by the Corsini family in 1363. It is located in San Casciano Val di Pesa, about 20 km from Florence.The main Villa at this estate was built from 1604 and is nine stories in height, four stories above ground and five below housing the cellars. Referred to as ‘the Iceberg’ for obvious reason!

My host today, at Villa Le Corti, is Duccio Corsini, Duke of Castigliano. He presides over 250 hectares, including 50 hectares under vine, and 65 hectares of olive groves.

Another estate of wine and oil production forming part of Principe Corsini property is situated in Maremma and is called Tenuta Marsiliana.

The wines of Villa Le Corti:

Villa Le Corti Chianti Classico DOCG, Sangiovese/Colorino

Villa Le Corti Cortevecchia. Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva, Sangiovese/Colorino

Villa Le Corti Don Tommaso Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG, Sangiovese/Merlot

Villa Le Corti Zac Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, Sangiovese 100%

Villa Le Corti Venusio Rose IGT Toscana, Sangiovese 100%

Principe Corsini Spumante Rosé, Sangiovese 100%,

Charmat method. With extended time on lees. Also using dry ice in process of fermentation.

Sant’ Andrea Corsini Vinsanto Chianti Classico DOC, Trebbiano and Malvasia.

Ten years in barrel, only the best barrels chosen for the final 5 years.

The Visit

We arrived a little after 10.30 am on the morning of 8th September, my host was to be found in his office.

He joined us outside the doors of the olive oil mill and once inside I admired the modern machinery to perform the oil extraction.

Walking into an adjacent room impressive by its vastness, was like turning the clock back a couple of centuries; as you can witness from the photo dozens upon dozens of antique terracotta urns, usually found single lying in someone’s garden cracked with flowers adorning the opening! Also a very rare glimpse of antique rectangular terracotta containers; these were placed one behind the other in a descending continuous line relying on specific gravity to part water from the oil as one sank and the other overflowed into the adjacent vessel. This was the ancient forerunner to centrifugal invention!

Contained within the estate of Villa Le Corti there are some 13,000 olive trees taking up to 65 hectares of land. This estate is widely regarded as a bench mark of quality in Tuscan olive oil production, strongly adhering to organic, artisan methods even taking into consideration the size of this commercial venture. These olive oils are in great demand and shipped across the globe.

The wine aspect of our day at Villa Le Corti started with a look at fermentation rooms, bottling plant, storage facilities, beautiful ancient barrel rooms for ageing purposes, I especially enjoyed the ‘new ‘ cantina built in 1763! These areas are vast in proportion both in height as well as width and are connected by a labyrinth of corridors some feeling like tunnels, all situated below the main Villa.

The FICO Wine project created by Duccio and his eldest son Filippo, who was tragically taken from this mortal life at the tender age of 21, in a road accident in London UK.

To honour the memory of his beloved son, Duccio continues this very special wine project they had started together. Two wines: FICO and PER FILO both IGT Toscana and both representing the purest organic and biodynamic methods, were created to express a new direction for Sangiovese.

Made only from especially chosen micro parcels from the Le Gugliaie vineyard (2.6 Hectares). I was privileged to view the special room which contained these uncrushed grape berries fermenting in open barrels bearing the FICO inscription, just beginning their long journey to become a very exclusive small production of approximately 2000 bottles per vintage.

Following our time ‘below stairs’ we ascended to the main Villa. It’s vast array of grand rooms dedicated to the history of this noble family.

Duccio very kindly showed me the family tree, hung in pictorial form, the first showing ancestors from the distant past, the second a more recent version depicting the family and extended family from the start of the 19th century to the present day. I was struct by the family ties with other present day ‘noble families’ who produce many of today’s famous labels.

This archive in wine terms was not wasted on me, totally fascinating.

The true majesty of this so called ‘Villa’ is somewhat of a deception in terminology: Palazzo would be more fitting an accurate.

During our conversation, one incredible fact was imparted and I feel duty bound to pass it on. The family historical documents and papers were relocated to the Villa, Duccio informed me they extended to 1.2 kilometres in length!

It was now time to descend “The Iceberg” and return to the private tasting room for the serious business the day: to taste the latest vintages…

Tasting notes

Villa Le Corti Venusio IGT Toscana 2021

Sangiovese 100%

Pale salmon pink with copper undertones in colour. Soft open style. White sour cherry, mulberry, sharp line of minerality. Opens on the mid palate vertically. On back end shows nuances of a spice profile. Distinctive racy personality. Tapers a little on the close.

Points 90 TW

Villa Le Corti Le Corti Chianti Classico DOCG 2020

Sangiovese 95% Colorino 5%

Bright ruby red in colour. Red cherry, black berry fruits, liquorice. Aromatics of purple florals. Fresh. Notes of saline infused energy. Terrific persistence. Succulent. Plump and juicy. Very quaffable.

Points 93 TW

Villa Le Corti Cortevecchia Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2019

Sangiovese 95% Colorino 5%

Intense ruby red in colour. Beneath a fragrant canopy of violet and dark blue florals, warm black berries, dried Mediterranean herbs, mint, Sicilian blood orange. Superb intensity. Shows clarity and precision. Would benefit from further bottle time.

Points 93 - 94 TW

Villa Le Corti Don Tommaso Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione 2019

Sangiovese 80% Merlot 20%

Ruby red in colour with faint purple undertones. Sour cherry, plum, wild strawberry. Restrained palate. Coming off mid palate the action starts: red florals, warm earth, faint notes of pomegranate. Finely grained tannins. Showing a little tension. Requires bottle time. Needs plenty of aeration.

Points 92 - 94 TW

Villa Le Corti ZAC Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2019

Sangiovese 100%

Intense ruby red in colour. Dark cherry, blueberry, baked plum, humus. Savoury and earthy. Striking character. A wine of impact. Muscular yet agile. Glorious texture density. Best from here since 2015.

Points 95 + TW

Villa Le Corti Per Filo IGT Toscana 2020

Sangiovese 100%

Dark ruby red in colour. Spectacular aromas. Silky tannins encircle cherry fruit, pomegranate, mulberry with faint aromatics of pink rose and lavender. Graceful and subtle. Floats on the palate. Notes of crushed stone. Delivers beautifully.

Points 96 TW

Villa Le Corti FICO IGT Toscana 2020

Sangiovese 100%

Ruby red in colour. Aromatics of lavender, iris and white rose petal awaken the senses. Quickly followed by a dazzling display of core fruits consisting of cherry, blueberry, dark forest berries.

Tannins dissolve into the wine. Relaxed and polished. Suave and delicate. Balanced like the scales of justice. Hauntingly long finish. Burgundy comes to Chianti Classico!

Points 97 TW

I also tasted two wines from Tenuta Marsiliana, vineyards owned by Duccio Corsini in Marciano, Grosseto, Maremma, Tuscany.

Tenuta Marsiliana Birillo Costa Toscana Rosso IGT 2019

Cabernet Sauvignon 60% Merlot 40%

Bright ruby red in colour. Dark cherry, redcurrant, liquorice and plum. Tense tannins.

Secondary nuances of ash, white smoke, and mint notes. Fresh. Juicy.

Points 91 TW

Tenuta Marsiliana Marsiliana Costa Toscana Rosso IGT 2018

Cabernet Sauvignon 60% Merlot 30% Petit Verdot 10%

Deep ruby red in colour. Dark forest fruit, liquorice, underbrush, toasted walnut shell nuances. Not a shy character. Back end showing balsam notes mixed with faint eucalyptus and dark spice.Has gravitas in spades. Tight. Needs time.

Points 91 - 93 TW

My sincere thanks to my new and noble friend Duccio Corsini for his time and for graciously agreeing to participate in my “High Five with Tony Wood” video interview series

© Tony Wood Italian Wine 2022
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