A Family Wine History
Giuseppe Sala scarcely noticed the scorching sun beating down on his brow as he looked out across the modest parcel of Tuscan land he had recently acquired. His mind was brimming with visions of a lush vineyards ambling along a rolling hillside and bursting with luscious Sangiovese grape. Beside him, his son Fausto grumbled in Italian as he squinted through swirls of dust to survey the stark reality…the land was nothing more than small pockets of grapes and grains, ensnared in a scraggly wilderness of thikets and brambles. The year 1953, and the D.O.C.G Law strictly defining Chianti wine were on the horizon. Giuseppe Realized they would bring an opportunity for vineyards in the Chianti region to introduce the world to true Chianti…the incomparabe taste that Tuscan vintners had crafted for centuries. So he moved his family from their comfortable life in Northern Italy to find his destiny in the Tuscan Hills. With Fausto by his side, he arduously cleared acres of wooded hillsides, wresled with miles of fence wire and lovingly planted the mother vines that would give birth to their vineyard. Then, the pair journeyed through every village and hamlet to enlist the aid of the finest local winemaking artisans, experts who collectively were the storehouse for the Chianti region’s 300 years of winemaking technique. With the help of these trusted advisors, Giuseppe and Fausto created the first winery on Tuscany’s Chianti Strada, which they dubbed “I Selvatici” ot “The Wilderness” as a reminder of their humble beginnings.
Authenticity and respect of time: thus was born a great wine
B y 1958, the I Selvatici fields were in full flourish and Giuseppe and Fausto celebrated their first harvest by throwing a jubilant festa, or party, for their craftsmen and their families…a raucous tradition that has followed every harvest since. In fact, the Vinsanto wine this crop produced is famous for being aged 40 years before finally being bottled in 1998, making it the longest a Vinsanto wine has ever been held in the barrel. Each new harvest would also bear bountiful crops of Sangiovese grapes that filled their enormous underground concrete vessels, a centuries-old aging practice that enables nature herself to provide the perfect temperature control. As each passing vintage aged and matured, so too did Giuseppe and Fausto’s knowledge and skill. And, over time, this family winery would gradually transform into a winery hailed throughout the region for its exceptional quality – standing out even in a region lauded for its exceptional wine. But in 1970, the family suffered a momentous loss. Giuseppe passed away. With heavy hearts, Fausto and his brother Carlo continued to guide the winery, remaining true to their father’s vision. By 1971, I Selvatici was flourishing, and so too was Fausto’s love of a beautiful local girl named Carla, who he married in an ancient chapel on the vineyard property…a chapel so intertwined with the area’s rich history that it still contains bibles from the 13th century.
Excellence take root
In 1974, the I Selvatici vineyrd produced what Fausto and Carla consider its finest fruit…their son, Giuseppe, named for his grandfather. Born amidst the vines planted by his family, Giuseppe has literally been surrounded by the art of winemaking his entire life. In time, the beaming, wide-eyed boy that enjoyed watching the men shout and sing at the harvest Festa grew to be a man who worked the field with the same unbridled joy.
He eagerly drank in the knowledge that ran so deeply throughout the region including receiving formal training it a prestigious winemaking school in Siena. Upon his graduation, he had produced in himself a unique blend of modern technique and old-world artisanship.
Today, he has inherited the title of head winemaker from his father, who still works by his side. Unlike other Tuscan winemakers, Giuseppe remains committed to creating high quality wine in very small quantities, and still ages his Chianti in traditional concrete vessels, in addition to modern steel tanks. He also celebrate the history of this storied area by continuing to craft Vinsanto, a deeply aged dessert wine favored in this region for generation, along with masterfully recreating a Malvasia Bianca that was first enjoyed as far back as 1685. And most of all, he is driven by perfection at every stage of the process fromk the very birth of a new wine. Perhaps inspired by his family’s famous 1958 Vinsanto, Giuseppe ages the family’s signature Chianti considerably longer than required by D.O.C.G. laws, and his patience is rewarded with a deeper, more profound taste.
With such great care taken at every phase, I Selvatici can only release a limited number of each exquisitely detailed wine every year. In fact, they are so finely tuned that their Chianti can last up to 12 years in the bottle, and the Cardisco can last an incredible 20 years far longer than comparable wines. It is a level of quality that is rare, indeed.
So now when Fausto and Giuseppe stand side-by-side and look out over a lush vineyard bursting with luscious Sangiovese grapes, they don’t see a wilderness. They see what Grandfather Giuseppe envisioned…I Selvatici, one of the finest family vineyards in all of Italy.
Now Giuseppe live 6 months in his winery in Tuscany and 6 months in the USA.