Whether you’ve been to Tuscany or not, I suspect we all picture a similar vista: rolling hills of green and straw-yellow, green forests and brush, cypress trees, fields of sunflowers, olive groves, castles dotting the horizon, and of course, vineyards. We’ve observed the scenes on television, the movies and likely adorning the covers of calendars in our favorite bookstores or the desktop background on our computers; however, I can tell you, seeing it in person, is even more amazing. Each time I arrive in Tuscany, I honestly have to remind to myself as I marvel at the very surreal 360-degree views, “This place is real. I am not dreaming. I’m literally standing here.”
Background on Tenuta di Arceno
This was again the case at Jackson Family Wine’s Tenuta di Arceno in San Gusme, a private property southeast of Siena. Purchased by the American family-owned wine company in 1994, this 2,500-acre (of which only 223 acres are vineyards) property is the very embodiment of all things Tuscan and Chianti Classico. When entrepreneur Jess Jackson and Vigneron Pierre Seillan first came to Tenuta di Arceno, they immediately recognized its potential for producing wines that would reflect the history, culture and quality of life in this storybook region (and as an American in love with the Italian culture and way of life, I appreciate their commitment to the authenticity of the property and wines).
The Jackson Family and Vigneron Seillan remain dedicated to the region’s signature grape, Sangiovese, as well as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Upon purchasing the extensive property, the team spent the next two decades replanting the vineyards into micro-crus to best suit the health of the vines and quality of production. The team created detailed maps depicting the various soils, of which there are 13 types, topography and climates throughout the estate. Today the 10 identified mesoclimates are divided into 63 micro-crus each planted to best suit the specific terroir including the soil profile, direction, slope, water uptake and heat potential.
The Tasting Experience
Technicalities aside, what stands out most for me from my recent visit to this unbelievably lush property was the smell of pine, the subtle breeze kissing my face, the wine still lingering in my mouth and the unending beauty in every direction. Once owned by the well-respected Italian family, the Piccolominis, Tenuta di Arceno still reflects their influence from the gardens and lake, to the romantic old buildings. It was also once a central point of the Etruscan civilization from which the word Arceno, or Archè, means a point of origin. Standing next to the ancient statue of “il fauno,” the mythological Roman god of nature which remains standing on the property and staring out over the vineyards, it is easy to see how such beautiful wines indeed originate here.
As for our wine tasting, we were hosted by Patrizia Papei, who has been with the winery for many years. She graciously welcomed us to taste eight wines from a table within the winery overlooking the extensive vineyards. She briefly walked us through the history, the terroir and the importance to the family of reflecting the Tuscan way of life through each wine. The tasting lasted about an hour from which we learned to appreciate the subtle differences of the various crus. Appointments are recommended, but easy to make, and this is a relaxing, brief, but highly educational stop to make while in the region, which will give you a glimpse into the beauty of Chianti, Super Tuscans and even a 100-percent Cabernet Sauvignon, but also allow time for visiting other sites, restaurants or wineries.
The Wines of Tenuta di Arceno
Depending on the current releases, a tasting will include three Chiantis including a Chianti Classico, a Chianti Classico Riserva, and a Strada al Sasso Gran Selezione (only produced in the best of vintages). My tasting included two 2016s and a 2015, respectively. The wines ranging from an everyday-drinking Chianti of which 15,000 cases are produced, to a single-block, small 800-case production of Gran Selezione, each reflected the soils, topography and conditions of this stunning, picturesque region. I also tasted four Super Tuscans, three of which feature various blendings of Merlot, Cabernert Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The fourth favors the Cabernet Franc, which Vigneron Seillan believes grows at its best on the property with smaller percentages of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is known as Arcanum and portrays the ancient statue of il Fauno on the label. Finally, our tasting closed with a Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2007 vintage. This wine is ready to drink now, but will also age at least another 10 years.
A Long Finish
Most of the wines tasted were of outstanding quality with long, lasting finishes, but as I mentioned, what will leave the greatest impression on me from this visit is the beauty of the land and the way in which it’s reflected in the wines. If you crave to witness firsthand the iconic beauty of Tuscany, Tenuta di Arceno is worth a visit. The Jackson Family has done a masterful job of retaining the authenticity of the property, expressing the beauty of the terroir and adhering to the Tuscan way of life.
Where to Stay: Siena, Italy (See Hotel Recommendations Here)
How to Get to Tenuta di Arcena: By rental car or hired driver.
To Make an Appointment: The tasting room at Tenuta di Arceno is open daily Monday through Friday, and by appointment on Saturday and Sunday. Reservations are encouraged.
- Tenuta di Arceno (Website)
- Loc. Arceno
- 53010 San Gusmè
- Castelnuovo Berardenga
- Siena, Italy
- Telephone: +39 0577 359 346
- E-mail: [email protected]