I often miss Chianti when I am home. And often miss home when I am away. I think that comes from being born Portuguese. A melancholy and yearning for things that we can’t have.
What does this have to do with a bicycle tour? Nothing. But recently I was thinking about Chianti and reminiscing with the writer Heidi Swift about Castelo di Ama and it’s owner Lorenza Sebasti. A woman who helped revolutionize what Chianti wine is. A woman who has so much passion for her work that you can’t help but be inspired and want to be better at your own work.
Thinking of her and her husband Marco, their wonderful three children. All the people whom we’ve met at Ama like Donatella, Sigrid, Paola and the amazing food that Giovanni has prepared for us over the years. The food that serves as the opening act for the wines we drink in that wonderful place.
Just thinking about it gets my taste buds going, and when that happens I cook. I cook a lot. I invite friends over to our house and well it gets a little out of hand with course after course and bottle after bottle. So one morning I phoned my friend Eric Genau at City Wine Merchants and asked him how many bottles of Castello di Ama he had? Apparently there’s quite a few.
Below is an excerpt of a piece that Heidi Swift wrote for Peloton Magazine that talks about Lorenza as well as a few of her photos from that day.
If that inspires you and you want to have some Ama the next time you cook or have friends over click on the links at the end of this newsletter and use the code INGAMBA20 at checkout for a 20% discount from us to you, your family and friends.
“…Last week when my hosts from InGamba Tours took their group to visit Castello di Ama, a local winery, I tagged along. I was tired from training and wineries traditionally aren’t really my thing, but I rallied and went anyway. I’ll spare you the exhaustive description of the organic symmetry of the vineyards or the way the sun backlit the group as we walked east across the grounds. It’s a magical place, but what part of Tuscany isn’t?
More striking than the sprawling estate, ancient buildings or intimate collaborations with specific artists, was the woman at the head of it all: Lorenza Sebasti. Refined, articulate, gracious, elegant, warm and passionate, she seemed to embody everything I’ve begun to fall in love with in this part of Italy. I sat at her right hand throughout dinner and watched her command the table full of men with a presence that was soft and firm at the same time. When Lorenza speaks, you get quiet. You listen.
She spoke of history and innovation and soil and inspiration – and of her instant love affair with the land when she first visited at the age of 15. She discussed the grapes and processes with the knowledge of a scientist, the fervor of an artist and the affection of a lover. She has changed fundamental things about the production of Chianti. She’s challenged convention while respecting tradition. Together with her husband, the winemaker Marco Pallanti, they have constantly elevated, innovated and evolved every aspect of their work and life. She never said it directly, but the point was taken: never settle.
We were talking about wine, but we were also talking about life and love and family and inspiration and an existence so permeated with meaning that most of us can only begin to understand it. It’s about ambition, but not as we understand that word in the United States: it is about ambition balanced with real, honest respect for passion. It’s about making your life the way you want it to be while honoring a calling that exceeds your own existence. Have a purpose outside yourself. For godsake, do what you are meant to be doing. And do it well.
At the end of the meal, someone revealed that I was riding all of the stages of the Tour de France. I’ll be honest, in the presence of such a woman and such a life, the Tour seemed inconsequential and a little trite. To my surprise, she expressed not only respect but also jealousy: explaining that this “focus on sport” is something that she would like to have more of in her life. I joked that I was quite taken with her work as well and perhaps we could trade for a bit, to which she replied, “I think this would make my husband very happy,” and winked…”