Updated: Feb 11
“I hope the memory of visiting I Sodi for the first time and meeting Andrea Cassini, his father Franco, and his father’s twin brother Danillo never fades from my memory. Introduced through my friend Roberto Bechi who had recently convinced me to curate an Italian products trade show in Portland, Maine, the day was truly unforgettable.
A cold and blustery day, we quickly retreated inside where a fire that had been started well before dawn was down to a bed of hot embers. Above the embers half of a cinghiale (wild boar) turned slowly on a large spit, golden and crisp, occasionally oozing a drip or two of rendered fat onto the coals. The first Chianti was opened, then one or two older vintages, then a riserva or two, each wine somehow more amazing than the last. As the final bottle was poured, a dusty bottle of their 1999 Riserva, we sat silently together savoring the wine and our thoughts. Non ci sono parole… there are no words, nothing more could be said.”
- Importer of I Sodi wines, Paul Turina
Winery: I Sodi
Appellation: Chianti Classico
Total production in bottles: 90,000
Number of unique wines produced: 5
Closures: Natural cork
Organic/biodynamic (other): Organic in practice (not certified)
Yield per hectare: About 7000 grapes per hectare
Q: How did you end up at the winery?
A: I was born into the winery, it has been my whole life... in fact, my family has been in the wine business since 1926.
Q: What is your role?
A: Because we are a very small, family run farm (myself, my father and his twin brother), I can do everything, but principally, I supervise and organize all of the work, I oversee the entire winery. If I have time, I like to work in the vineyards most.
Q: Everyone talks about terroir. What makes yours unique?
A: Our farm is located in Gaiole, which is the very heart of the Chianti Classico region. Gaiole is where the Chianti style of wine originated three centuries ago.
Q: What do you do to keep your wines and land healthy?
A: Good vineyard positioning helps us to reduce chemical treatments as much as possible. We use natural products such as sulfur and copper. For fertilization we use bovine manure, and this helps to keep the soils natural beneficial qualities intact. We truly pay great attention to all of our agronomic practices throughout the year.
Q: How many different grape varieties do you work with?
A: We principally work with Sangiovese and Canaiolo, but we also have plantings of Malvasia del Chianti and Trebbiano Toscano that we cultivate for our Vin Santo dessert wine.
Gaiole, Chianti Classico, where the winery is located.
Q: What is the most difficult part of the wine business?
A: Commercially, Chianti Classico is very competitive. While Chianti Classico is very well known, it can be difficult to find wine importers who do not already have a winery from Chianti Classico in their portfolio. This makes quality and packaging extremely important. We are a very small company, it is not realistic for us to be able to have a 360 degree marketing plan. It is important to us to establish lifelong relationships with the importers and customers that we do serve. So connecting that gap, between us and our customer, I would say is our greatest challenge.
Q: What are your goals for the winery?
A: The most important challenge is to always maintain a high quality level of the wines and always do so with respect for nature and traditions; for this reason we proceed when necessary to renew the vineyards while maintaining their peculiar characteristics. In recent years we have also managed to increase the vineyard areas.
Q: What impact is climate change having on your business?
A: Being a small operation we are very fortunate to have soil that is rich in small shallow veins. Even in the hottest seasons these veins can relieve heat stress. So, in all honesty we can say that until now even the greatest heat waves of recent years have not impacted our quality or production yields in a negative way. That's not to say it's all luck though, we work very hard to care for our soil in a way that keeps it soft. Our work ensures that the soil can absorb water from rains that are becoming less frequent but much more intense.
Q: Tell us something about your region or area (history, music, art, etc).
A: The city closest to us is Siena which is about 20 km away. Siena is a small town that is absolutely full of history. One of the major medieval historical centers in the world, we are lucky to have perfectly preserved some of the most beautiful historical monuments in the world; the Piazza del Campo, the Duomo, etc. Another major point of culture in our community is the Palio. The race, which was born from the heart and the ancient traditions of the people of Siena, takes place twice a year. In its millennial history, Siena has given birth to some of the most famous painters and sculptors of the Middle Ages.
Il Palio di Siena.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the food of your region.
A: I could write a whole book talking about the food of Tuscany. The great recipes of this land are nearly endless - I will focus instead on the cuisine in Siena where the most popular dishes are ribollita (famous Tuscan 'bread soup'), pici (thick, hand rolled pasta, like a fat spagetti, originating in the Siena region), steak, sweets and of course, wine!
Q: What is your favorite local restaurant?
A: Ristorante Tar-Tufo in Siena, nearby the Town Hall. Our friend, Chef Pino Di Cicci, offers very high quality cuisine here. They are known for their panoramic views of the city, their prestigious wine list, and most importantly, the fresh and local truffles they offer year round.
Fresh truffles being shaved at Ristorante Tar-Tufo in Siena.
Q: What is their specialty?
A: Their speciality is fresh and locally sourced truffles, and the rich meats they serve alongside them.
Q: What do you eat at home with your wine?
A: Everyday foods for me at home are simple foods. Pasta plays the most fundamental role in our home, we eat it every single day. Other than pasta, we eat a lot of meat, eggs, and various cold cuts that are typical to our area (raw ham, salami, sausages, etc).
Q: What do you do for fun?
A: I like to be out in the city, perhaps at a restaurant with friends which is always a good time. Sometimes we make pizza at the farm in our wood fired oven with all of our friends. In the summer we get to visit the beautiful Tuscan sea and in the winter we like to go skiing. Some years we get to visit some place abroad.
Q: What about your next vacation?
A: Well 2020 is a very unique year because of Coronavirus, we will be staying in Tuscany. But, for 2021 we hope to be able to go to the US to greet our friends!
Q: Is there anything else we should know about the winery or you?
A: Our business is a job second, but a passion first. This passion allows us to work many hours a day without ever looking at the clock. Here, time passes quickly and work does not weigh you down when you see the results of your hard work. We are lucky to work in a beautiful place, surrounded by nature and without pollution!
I Sodi 'Annata' Chianti Classico DOCG 2016
Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany, Italy
The Annata is a blend of 93% Sangiovese and 7% Canaiolo aged for 12-14 months in medium oak barrels, 2 months in stainless steel and 6 months in bottle. It shows aromas of red berries, violets and cooking spice. The palate is bright with notes of black raspberry, red cherries and star anise. The tannin and acidity make it great with roasts and games. High acid wines also go great with high acid foods. We would enjoy this with almost anything with a tomato based sauce; think spaghetti and meatballs or lasagnas. View in store.
I Sodi Sprassassi Toscana IGT 2015
Toscana IGT, Tuscany, Italy
100% Canaiolo aged 24 months in barrique and bottled without filtering, the 'Super Tuscan' Soprassassi is produced only in the best years for its production. It boasts aromas of red fruit and leather with a similar palate of ripe cherries, mature strawberries, leather and oak. The tannins mellow out with a bit of decanting. This wine is absolutely beautiful alongside roasted meats, grilled meats and seasoned cheeses. View in store.
I Sodi Vigna Farsina Toscana IGT 2011
Toscana IGT, Tuscany, Italy
100% Sangiovese aged for 24-30 months in barrique and bottled without filtering, the 'Super Tuscan' Vigna Farsina is produced only in the best years for its production and is made only with Sangiovese from a restricted part of the oldest 'Farsina' vineyard. The wine opens with nice aromas of black plum, vanilla and toast. The palate is concentrated and gives loads of black cherry jam, cedar and tobacco, integrated well with assertive tannin. This wine is beautiful alongside roasted meats, grilled meats and seasoned cheeses. View in store.
I Sodi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015
Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany, Italy
The 2015 Riserva is a blend of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Canaiolo aged for a total of 2 years - 16-18 months in small oak barrels followed by assemblage in medium oak barrels and 8-9 months in bottle before release. It pours a ruby red color and the first scents and flavors to hit are of sweet licorice, tobacco and red fruits. The balance of acid and tannin is beautiful in this wine, and the time spent in oak wraps the wine nicely in hints of soft vanilla. Perfect for serving with roasts and game, we also recommend anything with a tomato based sauce. View in store.