The hay wrapped bottle of Chianti, once considered the height of sophistication when served with that exotic dish, Spaghetti Bolognese, had by the late 1970s fallen victim to Italy’s strict winemaking laws. At a time when the rest of world was discovering the exhilarating wines of Bordeaux, Chianti’s traditional recipe of a blend of white and red grapes, producing a fruity blend for early consumption, struggled to compete.  Many producers, led by Marchese Piero Antinori, decided they could make a more competitive wine outside these DOC regulations and so began the era of the Super Tuscans.

Initially made from a blend of Sangiovese and/or Bordeaux varieties, these wines could only be labelled VdT (table wine) even though the quality (and price) were vastly superior to the DOC wines from the region. Italian law did finally catch up and in 1992 the IGT designation, offering greater freedom to winemakers, was introduced.        

Fast forward to 1999 and having looked at several properties in Italy, Gordon Sumner and his wife Trudie eventually settled on Tenuta Il Palagio. The estate, set among the rolling hills of Tuscany, had fallen into a bad state of disrepair so they spent some Tantric time restoring the 15th century villa, outbuildings and farm to their former glory and replanted the vineyards.  Now returned to its former glory, the estate’s winemaking is overseen by Paolo Caciorgna, assisted by estate manager Paulo Rossi and consultant Daniel O’Donnell.

Named after the iconic Police single, ‘Message in a Bottle’ is the latest addition to the wine portfolio of this acclaimed estate.

Message in a Bottle Bianco 2016, a blend of Vermentino and Sauvignon Blanc, is a fresh and lively wine with plenty of aromatic personality. Fermented in steel tanks at a low temperature, it has delicate floral notes with hints of citrus.  Enjoy this wine as an aperitif or pair it with fish, shellfish and vegetable dishes.

Aged for 12 months in French oak barrels Message in a Bottle 2015 Rosso Toscana IGT is a complex blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Syrah, producing a well-rounded wine. Hints of spice and cherry on the nose give way to a palate of rich fruit balanced with a refreshing acidity. Ripe tannins give this long and lovely wine a wonderful structure. An approachable Super Tuscan without the super price, this wine can be enjoyed with a variety of dishes. Try it with an antipasto platter of hard cheeses and meats, grilled steaks and Sunday roasts.

Sting has said that he sometimes performs music in the cellar to give the fermentation process a little encouragement.