High Notes with Gianna NanniniRock-star-turned-winemaker Gianna Nannini continues to produce hits on her Tuscan estate, Certosa di Belriguardo
Photo credit: Jean Baptiste Mondino
Striped with vineyards, the hills between Florence and Siena produce over 10 million cases of wine each year; so finding a Chianti worthy of the Harvey Nichols name was never going to be easy. But after an extensive blind tasting of wines from across the region, a unanimous decision was made: it had to be No. 35. The Chianti was a euphoric anthem of violets, souk spices, Morello cherries and Victoria plums. Modern, rebellious and unoaked, it was a breath of fresh air. Unveiling the bottle revealed that it had been made at a tiny estate called Certosa di Belriguardo, a monastery-turned-winery owned by Gianna Nannini.
To translate this into English: it is the equivalent of finding out that Debbie Harry or Chrissie Hynde brewed your morning coffee. An inspiration to millions and a defiant alternative to the polished patriarchy of Italian pop, Nannini still fills stadiums with devoted fans who belt out her lyrics in unison.
The multi-platinum performer has composed more than 20 albums since 1974, graced the cover of Italian Vanity Fair, and sung the theme song for the Italia ’90 World Cup – her gravelly vocals providing the score to the magic weaved by Totò Schillaci and Roberto Baggio on the pitch.
Just as the Super-Tuscan movement reinvented Italian wine, Nannini revolutionised music in Italy.
‘La Nannini’, as Italians call her, has never had to reinvent herself to stay relevant; by forging her own path, she has transcended time. Only one thing has kept her from becoming more successful worldwide:
“It’s difficult to break into other countries if you sing in Italian,” she says. “But wine speaks the same language all the time... it doesn’t belong to a gender. It’s not black or white, man or woman. It’s a gift of the earth that you enjoy by sharing.”
Although most oenophiles are sceptical of celebrity wines, Certosa di Belriguardo’s reds have won over many in the industry. Perhaps it’s because Sangiovese flows in her blood; but it’s probably down to the fact that for Nannini, La Certosa is a labour of love, not a vanity project: “I put everything I earn from my music into my wine production.” And her dedication has paid off. When wine guru Renzo Cotarella, chief oenologist at Antinori – the family who gave the world Tignanello, Solaia, Pèppoli and Guado al Tasso – tasted Nannini’s Sangiovese at Certosa di Belriguardo, he loved it so much he decided to become her winemaker.
HALL OF FAME
Adding to her many accolades, Nannini was blessed with an exceptional vintage in 2016. In fact, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has never rated a year in Chianti more highly; it was as if Bacchus had delivered a special present to celebrate the region’s 300th birthday. Clearly the wine, rather like its producer, was born to sing.
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