I had seen the villa with its symmetrical towers for years. Stately, it dominated its crest and serenely looked out over the valleys of San Casciano Val di Pesa.
But when I finally met the owners, spoke with them, walked the grounds of the villa and visited its cellars, I was deeply touched by the personality of the place and its people.
To visit Le Corti is to breathe history. The villa dates back to the early 17th century.
A good 36 generations of the Corsini family have lived on this land, but Duccio is the first to make wine.
Principe Corsini is a gentleman farmer – and I do mean farming: here at Le Corti there is more than ‘just’ wine! With a degree in history, he learned everything he knows about farming from rolling up his shirtsleeves and working in the field. No one in his family made wine before him. He is intent on bringing out the best characteristics of that countryside, his land. He asks, “What does your land offer you? Figure that out and that tells you how to plant and then what to do in the cellar.”
Principe Duccio Corsini and his wife Clotilde were married in 1992, starting off on a journey that is not yet over. In 1995, they changed some of the old vines, where there had been white grapes growing since the ‘70s. Of course, this is the land of Sangiovese – we are in Chianti Classico country – and the Antinori estate is just up the valley. The traditional Canaiolo, Trebbiano, and Colorino grapes may be found of course, but Principe Corsini also wanted some Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon as well (Tignanello docet, he reminds me…)
“These plants have to live longer than me,” he says with a wink.
The estate is famous for its olive oil; operating since 1363, it is the oldest olive mill in Tuscany (and maybe in Italy? Wow, almost 700 years!)
Projects abound here: one of them is a new olive grove planted in a particularly dense way with 1700 plants per hectare, a quantity that would normally fill 10 hectares (mind you, they already have 12,000 olive trees over 60 hectares). Corsini olive oil has been organic since 2000; the wine was certified organic in 2015. Biodiversity is also important to the Corsini family, and they grow farro and cereals as well.
It’s all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T – for the land, for the family, for the history of the place – and leaving this corner of the world (some might call it paradise) even better than they’d found it.
There is a lot of family involvement. One wine, Zac, is named for great-aunt Anna Corsini (Zia Anna Corsini – Zac). Duccio and Clotilde talk often about their son Filippo, who brought biodynamic practices to the winery. Filippo was tragically killed in a freak accident in London, but has left his mark on the winery and projects Fico (which is a hip word for ‘cool’ in Italian) and X Filo (which means ‘for Filippo’ using the nickname ‘Filo’ but also playing on the idea of precision, of being meticulous, taken from the expression Per filo e per segno.
Another great Corsini project is Associazione Grandi Cru Costa Toscana, started 18 years ago, and which today counts 63 wine producers from the Maremma Tuscan Coast. Tenuta Marsiliana is the Corsini estate run by Duccio’s sister, where mostly Bordeaux style blend wines are made. This is not Bolgheri, but it’s not far in philosophy. In fact, Sassicaia is a part of the club. International varieties predominate: Cab, Merlot, Petit Verdot. This estate is part of the group that is making a grand cru, something special; together they count 1500 hectares with a total of 5 million bottles. It is not a Consorzio, Principe Duccio is quick to point out; they consider themselves the guardians of the territory. This is a common spirit, a personality, curiosity and passion that brought this group of producers together.
There are common threads: to be authentic, and express the personality of this terroir. It is a vision for the future. This is where the IGT Costa Toscana comes from, a denomination (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) in which many Tuscan Consorzi may be found.
To get to know the Corsini wines and products better, there is hospitality at the estate, including dining facilities.
As orderly and precise as the countryside seems and is, there is a sparkle in this Tuscan Prince’s eye that tells you something daring and personal and new is also happening. A delightful blend of past and future.