If you’re missing Italy and your Italian wines, then it is a pleasure to find wineries that have used the months of lock-down to ensure it is easy for you to order your favorite wines directly online. This is the case for the organic wine estate La Lastra just outside of Siena. We’ve visited the wine estate and enjoyed their Wine Experience tour – and their wines – so are very excited to share with you their dedicated online wine shop at https://www.lalastra.shop/
In particular, the wine estate has focused on creating very special “Personal Edition” wines which – because of limited bottles – can only be bought directly at the wine estate, and now, also on their website. La Lastra is a organic farming estate, the dream of a group of friends studying agronomy and wine-making at the university who wanted to build an ambitious sustainable project 25 years ago. A project that supported ecology and nature while creating a product from the land, a project set out to bottle the scent of Tuscany, the aroma and healthiness of the grapes and create an elegant wine that brings enjoyment to all those who savor it. This is the philosophy behind La Lastra, one that is exemplified in its approach to anyone that visits: their winery tour includes not only a tour of the wine cellar and tastings, but also a guided visit to the vineyards and detailed presentation of all aspects of production before you taste their excellent organic wines.
La Lastra Winery, much more than your ordinary Tuscan winery
La Lastra, as an organic wine estate, grows and vinifies only grapes grown on their own vineyards following their organic growing practices. The estate has 8 hectares of red grape vineyards on the hills near the Siena, surrounded by centuries-old olive trees. At the center of the vineyards is the century-old farmhouse with cellar and tasting room and the Agriturismo Marciano where they host, in three suites and three rooms, those who wish to experience rural life on a Tuscan farm. They also own another 8.80 hectares on the hills near the splendid San Gimignano, the medieval village home to the most ancient white wine in Italy, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano. That land grows mostly Vernaccia grapes, and the small winery there creates two versions, the Vernaccia and the Vernaccia Reserve.
What makes the winery unique is their philosophy of experimenting “just to see” what happens… the result has been truly exceptional wines that form their special “Personal Edition” wines.
The Personal Edition wines: the fruit of a lifetime of studies and experiments
Since great wines start from the vineyard, then the bio-diversity and climatic variability that influences the grapes is a value the agronomists at La Lastra have always studied to enhance and use to the best advantage. This is how Renato Spanu, head enologist at La Lastra, explains the approach at La Lastra: a permanent study, lasting over 25 years, of the farm’s micro-areas to study every season’s complex climate trends. What I have personally found unique in their approach is how the team of agronomists and enologists (who are also the owners of the winery) have taken their research and curiosity a step further. Spanu has used this deep knowledge of their territory and selected extremely limited areas of the vineyards, at some points specific plants of each grape variety, that embody the perfect combination of climate, soil and agronomy and create grapes that have great complexity season after season. By focusing on the quality of the prime ingredient, La Lastra has created some pretty spectacular wines they call their Personal Editions. These wines can truly be said to express all that is Tuscany.
Their limited edition wines include the white wine Vernaccia di San Gimignano, including a Riserva version, and 5 red wines: the Chianti Colli Senesi, the Rovaio and Canaiolo, the Merlot and Cabernet Franc, these last two are wines not commonly produced in Tuscany. Finally, the Passito is a sweet dessert wine, perfect for enjoying a mellow evening.
Each of the Personal Editions wines – which can only be purchased online directly from La Lastra or at their winery – has very special histories. In order to fully appreciate the innovation and unique character of these wines – and the winery – it is necessary to give you a preview of how they have been “created”, how the vineyards and the grapes have been selected.
VERNACCIA DI SAN GIMIGNANO RISERVA PE 2018 AND PE 2017
[99% Vernaccia di San Gimignano, 1% Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia Bianca lunga del Chianti]
In the oldest vineyard, over 25 years old, about 400 vines were identified. These might have been considered “less productive” but the grapes they produced were much richer in sugar and acidity. These go to produce the Vernaccia Riserva Personal Edition.
VERNACCIA DI SAN GIMIGNANO PE 2019
[98% Vernaccia di San Gimignano, 2% Riesling Italico]
In the spring of 2019, the team found a vineyard in San Gimignano that offered what they were looking for: old plants on fresh silty-sandy soils, rich in water and, most importantly, that have been grown organic for over forty years! From the “vigneto dei rosi” (the rose vineyard) thus comes the outstanding Vernaccia di San Gimignano wine for the estate.
CHIANTI COLLI SENESI PE 2017
[Sangiovese 95%, Canaiolo nero 3%, Malvasia bianca and Trebbiano toscano 2%]
Over the years, the team at La Lastra found that not all the plants bear the same grapes and experimented: vinify the “different” clusters in different vats and… they created a unique and special Chianti wine with a ruby color and the flavor of Tuscany. The clusters of Sangiovese which make up 95% of their Chianti come from the oldest plants on the farm, which ripen well beyond the time of newer plants, with a thicker skin rich in polyphenols, thus creating a special wine.
ROVAIO PE 2017 (a Super Tuscan)
[Sangiovese 33%, Cabernet Sauvignon 33%, Merlot 34%]
This wine is the result of the best experiments in recreating the same blends of grapes from one territory in another and seeing what comes out: one of the best wines from the 2017 harvest, a blend of aged Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
CANAIOLO PE 2018
[100% Canaiolo nero]
The black Canaiolo is an ancient grape variety native to Tuscany, used in the past to mellow Chianti wines. Twenty years ago, out of academic curiosity, Spanu and team decided to vinify it in purity, just to see what would come out. The result: a wine with an evident black peppery smell and taste, the sweet aroma of violets and, not least, smooth tannins. The Canaiolo Special Edition wine comes from a young vineyard, planted with cuttings of Canaiolo nero from buds of the old plants at La Lastra, which have created the “Pinot Noir” of Tuscany for its softness and ease of drinking.
MERLOT PE 2016
When Spanu and partners purchased the small winery near Siena 20 years ago, most of the vineyards were replanted and this presented the occasion to introduce a very limited quantity of Merlot vines. The small vineyard has reached a good physiological maturity, and the enological team decided to vinify it pure, then mature it in a French oak tonneau. The result is a highly distinctive and intriguing wine available as part of the Personal Edition given the small quantity and its uniqueness as a 100% Merlot produced in the Chianti wine area.
CABERNET FRANC PE 2016
[100% Cabernet Franc]
At the same time as the Merlot plot was planted, so were 7 rows of Cabernet Franc. The first to be planted in Tuscany, the Cabernet Franc was to experiment and see if properly ripened, well vinified and aged, the team could produce a wine with a strong personality, one that might not be for everyone but still exciting. The first years only yielded frustrated expectations but, once the plants reached their maturity, Spanu and team were surprised! They had a fruity wine with raspberry tones, great body and intense flavor on their hands. Given the very small quantity the winery is able to produce, it has rightfully become part of their Personal Edition collection.
PASSITO PE 2015
[50% Malvasia Bianca, 50% Trebbiano]
Ever since the beginning, the enological team also experimented in creating a sweet Passito wine that stirs both body and spirit – and they have succeeded! The passito is made with golden clusters of Malvasia and Trebbiano ripened under the Tuscan sun, delicately picked and placed in small boxes one by one in a ventilated room for a long drying period. There is a weekly check of the sugar concentration and, usually a few days before Christmas, the grapes are finally pressed. The must exudes aromas of apricot, peach and plum that bring back to mind the summer that has long since passed. A barrique is filled with the nectar, then fermentation take its course. It is a long process, with lots of work… and only vintages that meet their expectations are bottled. A taste of Passito from La Lastra’s PE collection is an experience to cherish.
These are the wines that form the Personal Edition collection, sold exclusively online by type of wine or in “collections” of a mix of the wines. The wines are shipped by courier to your home across all of Europe and the US, including Hawaii and Alaska. Shipping costs depend on the number of bottles purchased and the country and region of delivery, check the website for details.
Note that shipping costs include COVID19 disinfection protocol and that all orders are tracked from the moment they are handed over to the courier to the time your local delivery person is about to deliver your wine. Ready to order some excellent Tuscan wine? With La Lastra, you can’t go wrong with any wine you decide to get!
About Lourdes Flores
An American living in Florence for over 10 years, Lourdes continues to explore and discover new places in Tuscany with the eyes of a tourist but with the experience of living in Italy. She shares her experiences on this blog and website, particularly offering lots of travel planning help on the Forum!