Livio Sassetti’s beloved Pertimali is one of Tuscany’s iconic properties. Situated in a small, sun blessed bowl sculpted into the slopes of Montalcino, Pertimali lies protected from the briny, often fierce southwesterly winds that blow off the nearby Tyrrhenian Sea to wreak havoc upon the vines of less fortunate Brunello producers. All 6 hectares (13.2 acres) of Sassetti’s Brunello flow from this sunny spot located on the hill of Montosoli, a privileged place that enjoys a well-deserved reputation as the supreme cru of Montalcino. More importantly, Sassetti’s sublime Brunello di Montalcino consistently attests in good vintages and bad to the superb terroir of Pertimali and the consummate skill and dedication of its guardian and his two attentive sons Lorenzo and Luciano.
A visit to Pertimali is truly a unique experience and certainly one of the most memorable in the world of wine. However, we suggest one put aside all preconceived notions, including the images of glamorous Tuscan villas and glitzy new wineries, the kind that have sprouted up in recent years and sprawled along the wine routes and byways of Tuscany to obscure the work of traditional Tuscan artists and artisans. No, a visit to Livio Sassetti’s Pertimali more closely resembles a walk back in time or a venture into a timeless, fantastic world where all kinds of unknown plants and produce flourish. Aside from his beloved wine, Livio Sassetti raises organic fruits and vegetables of every style and color. Much of this produce he has cloned himself, crossing tomatoes with potatoes and inventing all kinds of crops of fantastic color, shapes, and size. At first glance Pertimali appears more like a well-tended Jurassic Park than one of Italy’s iconic wine estates. However, one glance at Pertimali’s impeccably tended vineyards and the first sip of Livio Sassetti’s magical wine convince the visitor of the seriousness of the man behind the legend.
Livio Sassetti has been called “a curiously paradoxical man of disappearing kind: a very able winemaker who scrupulously vinifies his wines, and at the same time a man of ancient ways and principles,” by his importer Marc De Grazia. Indeed, Sassetti is all that and more. He follows the cycles of the moon in planting and harvesting and practices the tenets of biodynamic viticulture. He is a guardian of the land and its traditions. Livio Sassetti is, also, a man who will stay up all night in the cellar to mind his wine and assure that it is fermenting at precisely the right temperature, and then go and meet friends and winemaking neighbors in the morning for breakfast and order a cappuccino rosso, senza scuma (a red cappuccino without foam, or more precisely, a glass of Brunello wine). A poet, balladeer, and one of the ablest practitioners of the Tuscan art of lyrical bantering, Livio Sassetti remains a myth and a mystery to many in the world of wine. Nonetheless, what everyone who knows wine can agree upon is that Sassetti’s Brunello di Montalcino is second to none.
In addition to fashioning great Brunello, Sassetti and sons produce what may be the zone’s quintessential Rosso di Montalcino, a rich complex wine that emanates from Brunello but is aged only one year in cask. Furthermore, the Sassettis make very fine Montescudaio, a serious red wine from the hills opposite Montalcino, and they craft tiny quantities of Moscadello di Montalcino and other curiosities that one is sure not to find anywhere else. Pertimali is a unique place after all, not unlike Rip Van Winkle’s magical hollow, but most assuredly more than well worth the venture.