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Uncorked: Cristina Mariani May

Cristina Mariani May is co-CEO of the US importer Banfi Vintners and looks after Castello Banfi, the family’s 7,000 acre estate in Brunello di Montalcino.

What Vintage are you?


What bottle sparked your love of wine?

Riunite Lambrusco at the dinner table when I was younger. Quaffable, chilled, fruity and the perfect introduction to wine.

Ambition or talent – what matters more?

Ambition. I believe that life is about the journey, not the destination. To continue to succeed on the journey one needs perseverance, patience, and drive. Of course, talent doesn’t hurt, but pure talent will not get you across the finish line.

What would you be as a wine?

Soft, fruity, not too serious, but with great length and an elegant finish. Comparable to a great Brunello; vibrant with a good vein of acidity, but lots of bright fruit, depth, and a long finish. I love the way it develops beautifully with age. Any woman would appreciate ageing gracefully!

Where are you happiest?

When I am at my home in Tuscany and have my three little kids and husband with me, then I feel complete. There are inspirational, gorgeous views, fabulous food and wine, art and culture, plus great dirt roads to run through. That is my heaven.

What’s your greatest vice?

Running. I could run forever, like Forest Gump.

Best advice you ever got?

Breathe. Sometimes as a working mom, co-CEO, wife, and runner I feel overwhelmed. The best advice I have received is to remember to breathe. A deep breath helps me re-center myself.

Your cellar’s underwater, which bottle would you dive in and save?

Castello Banfi Brunello 1999 magnum. The wine that was served at my wedding. It holds a special place in my heart.

What’s the best & worst thing about the wine business?

The best thing is that I get to produce, market and sell a beautiful product called wine … the worst is probably all the endless travel and the long hours spent in airports, away from my kids.

Personal satisfaction (Parker points)

97 pts. Though I don’t love working on a point scale, I believe more in the descriptive answers.

Desert island vine?

Brachetto. One of my favorite wines is Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui. It is fruity, fresh and the bubbles bring pure pleasure. If I could have this on a desert island, I believe I would try to celebrate every day as if it was my last.

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