Here at Villa Capponi Piaggio, home of Varramista Farm in Tuscany, time came to a stop on December 13, 1997, and it seems it has refused to flow ever since. The Farm is one of the interrupted dreams of a young entrepreneur who strongly believed in the possibility of a better world for everyone. Perhaps his most beautiful and stubborn one. This place of lightheartedness first, and awareness later, still tangibly holds the immortal and vibrant part of Giovannino Agnelli’s soul.
Giovannino had spent the most beautiful and carefree days of his childhood here, together with his grandmother Paola. He had inherited her discreet, fine, polite, never ostentatious charm, and the genuine class and elegance of those who never feel superior to others, only more inspired and fortunate. From her he had learned that
People are the source of our strength. They are the resource and intelligence of the organization…. Involvement at every level, teamwork, and shared goals are necessary for the success of our mission.
After several years abroad, he had returned here to take his place in society. A place that was in his birthright but which he wanted to gain through his own personal effort instead. He felt this was the only way to make his contribution to the world, because in fact no one is born knowledgeable by birthright. Therefore, he took no shortcuts in his rise to success as it is often the case in similar situations, and alas with poor results.
He served in the army as a non-commissioned officer because his foreign college degree was not valid in Italy. He took a job as a simple workman under the false name of Giovannino Rossi, because he wanted to be treated like everyone else. Until one day he felt he was ready, took back his own name, Giovanni Alberto Agnelli, and the rest is history.
A story perhaps too good to be true, or at least not in this dimension, as if the world was not ready for someone like him quite yet. Just consider one of the main points of Piaggio’s manifesto of values that he had drafted as soon as he joined the company:
Our company has among its fundamental points of reference social responsibility. In this regard, it considers the issues of safety and environmental impact, of products as well as of production processes, to be priorities.
A concept that remains just a slogan in many cases still today, and which was absolutely revolutionary in the 1990s. That revolution we so desperately needed to avoid ending up with the climate and pollution problems we are dealing with today. There is still too much talk and too little concrete action on such urgent issues. Be assured however that the Planet will survive! It is the human race that is at stake indeed, if anyone thinks otherwise.
Varramista was home, pureness, and love, and it is from these assumptions that the story of his Syrah originated. A tale that remained for so long in the intimate sphere of confidentiality, maybe because this wine is so deeply connected with Giovannino’s soul, with these places, and with the tragic event of his sudden death at such a young age. He was only thirty-three when cancer took him.
Rather than a business project, this Syrah was conceived as a gift, with the idea of creating something personal to be joyfully shared with family and friends. And that is why this project in particular had to be devised and executed to perfection. A wine that had to be authentic and clean, that would bring to the sip the light of the sunset, the breeze through the trees, the scent of white spruces, and that feeling of warmth, comfort and peace called Home.
The rhythm of the heart and nature, a grape variety that had never been grown in this area, but it had to be that one only. There was only one agronomist and winemaker in Giovannino’s mind who could accomplish the mission. He personally went to meet with him to ask for his help. The winemaker immediately told him that the place was not suited for Syrah at all! But this young man in his early twenties, so full of enthusiasm, did convince him with his genuine passion and determination. Moreover, he must have shown him that the power of dreams sometimes is stronger than any rational reasoning. Who knows if Federico Staderini would have bet on Pinot Noir in Tuscany in the near future, had he not met Giovannino Agnelli with his crazy idea of growing Syrah there.
In 2001 a very young oenologist joined the team alongside Staderini. Her name is Francesca Frediani, who is head of commercial and communication department today. Francesca’s relationship with Varramista is intimate and emotional; a liaison based on love and dedication that can never be broken. Her feelings and emotions escaped ardently from the tone of her voice during the tasting of Varramista Toscana IGT.
Francesca took us by the hand through a compelling journey that went backwards from 2019 all the way to 2002, passing through vintages 2016, 2015, 2005 and 2003. The 2002 vintage is the last time the young Syrah vines still needed the support of Sangiovese. Each with its own stories and peculiarities, they are beyond a shadow of a doubt textural and vibrant wines in the manner of Federico Staderini. And so is the Terre di Pisa Rosso DOC Frasca that we tasted in the 2020, 2019 and 2018 vintages.
As of today, all members of The Varramista Team hold fast to their commitment and remain as loving custodians of Giovannino Agnelli’s dream. A dream that is renewed year after year from these places, these grapes and always in the same way. Time stands still here at Varramista, and it is as if it retraces the same track over and over again, yet playing a song that somehow is always different, but which is always and only his own.
There is a sense of solemn sacredness here at Villa Capponi Piaggio, but also a sense of a strong and living will that continues to manifest itself from a parallel dimension where all great souls dwell. Giovannino’s soul is still vibrat in every corner of this Farm and in every sip of this Syrah. Asking to let go of the pain so that he can continue to live in the joy of life blooming every year according to the ethics and values in which he believed so strongly.
Wine is pulsing life in Varramista’s cellar which, like a chest, holds all its magic to remind us that, when a dream survives us, a part of us remains intact and vital forever.
FATTORIA VARRAMISTA SpA
Via Ricavo – Località Varramista
56020 Montopoli in Val d’Arno (PI)
© Riproduzione riservata
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