This month we are continuing our gambol through central Italy with Tuscany. A rough triangle covering 9,000 square miles of “relentlessly undulating” (per Jancis Robinson) countryside, it’s responsible for Pisa’s lean, the Renaissance (via the city of Florence),  arguably the most famous wine region in the country in Chianti, and most of the modern Italian language. Nowhere, apart from Rome itself, and maybe Venice, all-caps ITALY as visibly as this place; its influence on global history and culture, from art to science to literature, has been profound; 50 million tourists visit each year to bask in all the accumulated greatness. So it’s easy to squint and miss what’s  new under the proverbial Tuscan sun. But like those hills that apparently refuse to stand still, there are always changes underway, discernable from a distance if you know where to look.

 In November 2022, the Italian Minister Of Culture announced a discovery that has the potential to  “rewrite the history of ancient art and the passage between the Etruscans and Romans in Tuscany.”  The picturesque Tuscan village of San Casciano dei Bagni is famous historically for its thermal hot springs (it still supplies 5.5 million liters a day, the third highest in continental Europe.) In one of them, archeologists found twenty-four 2,000 year old bronze figures, depictions of gods offered by the Estrucians to the sacred reservoir. And indeed, the hot spring water preserved inscriptions  that normally would have washed away, allowing the scientists to discern both Latin and Esctrucan language, indicating they worshipped in peace together at this sacred site, even as they were warring elsewhere. It remains an open question why they appear not  to have produced any wine for their get-togethers, but the unsteadied historical dynamic is a great fit for native son Giacomo Baraldo’s curious yet deeply informed approach to oenology.  After apprenticing at the legendary Domaine de Montille in Burgundy, amongst others, Giacomo returned to San Casciano de Bagni, to make his wine on unherald mountain terroir (Monte Cetona, a limestone mountain halfway between Florence and Rome),  influenced primarily by non-Tuscan winemakers, and driven by his belief that “tradition and innovation are the driving force of progress.” Our selection this month is his ‘Risvelgio’ (awakening) white bottling. It is a skin contact blend of the local Trebbiano and Malvasia varietals. 

In some respects, Sofia Ruhne represents the inverse of Giacomo’s experience. She hails from  nowhere near the soil she farms - which, far from being obscure, is some of the most prized on the planet. Born in Sweden, Sofia began spending much of her time in Chianti, in central Tuscany,  after her father bought the Terrano estate, in the high country just north of Greve, and part of the  Chianti Classico sub-zone, in 1988. She made her first wine there in 2010; the next year she moved full time to the estate, and four years later oversaw its transition to organic farming with her father. In 2015, she officially took over the reigns from him, to no small amount of consternation and controversy,  including a prediction that the estate needed a man in charge since no one would follow a woman. She rejected the assertion,  replaced most of the staff,  embarked on her own path, and in 2020 was elected president of the Vintners’ Association of Montefioralle. I was aware of none of this before being knocked out by her Chianti Classico Riserva 2018, spotlighted this month, but it makes sense. Like Giacomo, she is steeped in the past but not stuck there; together they represent a bright future for Tuscany.  

Alan Hicks  - Wine Buyer, Noe Valley

Giacomo Baraldo Risveglio Toscana Bianco 2021

Region: Toscana Bianco IGT

About the Winery: Every vineyard in Giacomo’s stable is around Monte Cetona, located almost precisely between Roma and Firenze. The vineyards Pozzone and Caccialupi are on the east face, in the Val di Chiana, where they take morning sun, but never witness the full glory of a Tuscan sunset. On the western side in the Val d’Orcia, il Bossolo, and the adjacent recently planted vineyards for Chardonnay and Grechetto, one can see the sun off on the horizon as it drops below the hills. This land that holds the same limestone bedrock characteristics found in places like France’s Côte d’Or, Chablis and Loire Valley, but also in much of Spain’s most glorified wine regions, including Rioja, as well as many other Italian limestone spots. Giacomo believes that Monte Cetona has massive untapped potential. To his knowledge, he was  the first to plant a vineyard with the idea of commercial winegrowing in the area in 2009. 

About the Winemaking: An equal blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia comes from sections in Caccialupi and Pozzone, and two small, rented parcels, a young vineyard (2015) at 600m on galestro bedrock and topsoil facing north and another planted in the 1950s on sandy soils at 300m. The skin maceration is around three days and the natural fermentation lasts for about 6-7 weeks in old barrels. It goes through malolactic fermentation and bâtonnage is sometimes used if it is sluggish to finish. It spends six months in old barrels (6-8 years old) and two in steel before bottling. It’s fined with bentonite and lightly filtered (3 micron). The total SO2 level is around 60-70mg/L and the pH ranges from 3.30-3.40 with TA around 6.50. The alcohol is usually around 12.5%.

Tasting Notes: A surprisingly powerful and complex blend of floral and melon aromas, orchard fruit on the palate, and a long, gripping finish with notes of vanilla and chalky earth. 

Winemaker: Giacomo Baraldo

Price per bottle / per case


Suggested Food Pairing: 

Pecorino Toscano 

Truffle pasta 

Cacciucco (Tuscan seafood stew)

Grilled Tuscan Chicken With Rosemary  

Terreno Chianti Classico Riserva 2018

Region: Chianti Classico DOCG

About the Winery: Terreno is situated in the heart of Chianti Classico, close to the village of Greve in Chianti, where vine has been cultivated since Roman times. The estate was founded in the 17th century, the  Ruhne family, started making wine there in 1988. It is a large estate, fully organic since 2014, covering a total area of 150 hectares:  20 ha of vineyards, 10 ha of olive orchards, the rest forest. There are three vineyard sites, and viticulture is customized  to each parcel: altitude, soil, exposure, microclimate and the weather in a given season all  play a role in how each site is treated, and in how machinery is used. At harvest, micro-ferments in small batches are made not just of every plot but every clone, which in turn informs subsequent decisions to take in the wines.

About the Winemaking: The 2018 Classico Riserva comes primarily from Le Bonille vineyard, the northernmost planting, a terraced site at 380-400 meters with nearly 20 acres of vines, facing south-southwest, on the flank of Monte del Chianti, Chianti’s highest mountain. Soil is mostly alberese and other calcareous soils with some galestro (foliated, friable schist) and clay. Plantings here date from 1982 to 2012. Fermentation takes place in open top vessels with aging in wood, mostly 24-hectoliter casks but with a bit in 12 and 32-hectoliter casks for two years, followed by at least one year in bottle before going to market. No fining, bottled with a light filtration. Production averages 600 cases. Sangiovese 85%, Colorino 10%, Cabernet Sauvignon 5%

Tasting Notes: Inviting aromas of ripe cherries, forest berries and peppery spices with a taste of finely preserved fruit and hints of chocolate and tobacco. Full-bodied, age-worthy, with a marked freshness and elegant tannins.

Winemaker: Sofia Ruhne 

Price per bottle / per case

$39 / $421.2

Suggested Food Pairing: 

Sliced prosciutto 

Pasta al pomodoro.

Vegetable lasagna with a zucchini pesto, 

Sage, red wine, porcini mushrooms and shallots in a light tomato sauce

Tagliolini Al Tartufo


100g of fresh tagliolini pasta per person

4 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Freshly grated truffles and truffle shavings


  1. Add 100g of the fresh tagliolini per person in the group in a pot of salted boiling water. Around a minute before the pasta can be said to be 'al dente', remove it from the pot and drain, being sure to save some pasta water and set it to one side.
  2. Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan then add the drained pasta, along with a little pasta water. In the case that the pasta appears to be too dry, just add a little more pasta water. Add the Parmigiano cheese, grated truffles and cook everything together for a minute, allowing the sauce to thicken a little.
  3. Place the pasta on a warm plate and finish plating up by adding a sprinkle of truffle shavings.


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