When Lia Tolaini Banville, proprietor of Banville Wine Merchants, lent us her recipe for Bolognese, she also incidentally gave us a healthy, heaping portion of wisdom. Lia has worn many hats over the years: importer, vintner, matriarch, culinary expert (her recipe is equal parts instruction, equal parts philosophy) and, like a good ragu, quality has been the driving force behind her enterprise.
Currently representing over 50 hand-picked brands, Lia began Banville Wine Merchants in 2004 with a boutique portfolio of fine Italian wines. Since then Banville has expanded substantially while keeping quality materia prima at the root of their partnerships— wines that champion integrity, authenticity and family. As we come together to enjoy another season of table fellowship, we tour the Italian side of Banville’s book in the company of close-knit winemaking families and pairings that’ll make you feel like kin.
Tolaini – An Intention Realized
“I’d never drink bad wine again… and one day I’d return to my own land to make good wine.”
The Tolaini legacy began in Tuscany with Lia’s father, a powerful resolution, and a daring devotion to home. Pier Luigi Tolaini was only 19 when he left Italy as a poor farmer and immigrated to Canada— a result of the stark conditions of postwar Italy in the former half of the 20th century. It would be over forty years before he would return to his homeland in Chianti Classico and turn his dream into a reality, and make good on making good wine. In his 60’s, no less.
Tolaini produces terroir-specific red wines in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga near Donna Laura Wines. Pier Luigi built his vision with a central respect for the environment, the grapes and the winemaking team. This philosophy plays out in impactful ways from the careful consideration of employee quality of life to the very vines themselves. Tolaini’s vineyard workers live in local, provided housing and Pier Luigi even designed a custom, shaded tractor to help the team more comfortably harvest. As for the grapes, they currently employ organic and sustainable practices with the aim to be certified organic by 2023. The story these wines tell are that of strength, power, and finesse. And they love food.