The SOMM Journal

April / May 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 90 of 108

90 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2016 { tuscany } N estled in the heart of Central Tuscany's Chianti Classico production area between Florence and Siena, near the picturesque village of Greve in Chianti, Castello di Verrazzano is perhaps one of the area's most visible and most visited landmarks; and with a winemaking history documented back to the year 1150, it is also one of the region's oldest known wineries. If you think you recognize the name, you do. The 16th-century explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who most famously discovered New York Bay (the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island is named in his honor), was born at the Castello, built on land already owned by his family for centuries, and Greve's town square features a statue in his honor. A winery first and foremost, and also part living museum, part destination for wine lovers, Castello di Verrazzano is a veritable mini village with ten resident families stewarding the land. It is a modernized glimpse into how the region existed for thousands of years—large landowners renting farmland to peasants who then worked the land and provided part of the crop back to the owners as payment for its use—a way of life lost when Italy collectively moved off the farm and to the cities in the years after World War II. A migration which, thankfully, has slowly reversed itself in the last few decades as dedicated visionaries like the Cappellini family, own - ers of the property since 1950, saw new promise in recreating a way of life, albeit in a more equitable fashion, that had been lost. "When we took over the property in 1950, the countryside was being de-populated due to the end of the "sharecropping" system that had been in place here for centuries," says second-generation owner Luigi Cappellini, who oversees the estate, "and my family took on the challenge to revitalize the property and rebuild the winemaking heritage. We now have a real community here that believes in preserving the estate and region's important history." And Castello di Verrazzano is doing so in more ways than just winemaking. They are also farming the land to supply their restaurant and wine shop with "kilometer zero–harvested" products (Luigi's term for local produce), and offering rooms in the property's agriturismo hotel to the region's visitors. Most recently, the Cappellini family has opened two wine bars in Florence—Spumantino, overlooking the Ponte Vecchio, and Cantinetta on Via dei Tavolini—to feature their wines and reach those potential customers who may not have the ability or time to drive south to Greve to visit the winery itself. But for all the history and lifestyle surrounding Castello di Verrazzano as a property and entity, it's the winemaking that is turning heads these days, and for a variety of reasons. The most important being—and this is where the Cappellini family's view of "heritage" comes into Castello di Verrazzano Chianti Classico Normale and Riserva contain 95 percent Sangiovese, well over the 80 percent minimum requirement. CASTELLO DI VERRAZZANO GOES ITS OWN WAY IN CHIANTI CLASSICO by David Ransom Recreating a WAY OF LIFE

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The SOMM Journal - April / May 2016