The SOMM Journal

April / May 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 92 of 108

92 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2016 play—that while, following the advent of an all-red grapes criteria during the move to DOCG status (granted in 1996) for Chianti Classico production, many producers moved towards a more modern style blend in order to compete with other Tuscan regions like Montalcino (home to Brunello) and Montepulciano (home to Vino Nobile) who make a generally more full-bodied version of Sangiovese, Castello di Verrazzano has stead - fastly continued to make a style of Chianti Classico that more strictly adheres to the Chianti produced in times gone by. So, is that a good thing? Good question. The answer is yes. The reasons are many. First, in keeping with traditional growing techniques in place before the advent of pesticides and the like, Castello di Verrazzano is farming all 105 acres it has under vine organically, a choice of the Cappellini family since they took over, and recently certified as such by the government. Second, while many producers tend to stick closer to the required 80 percent minimum of Sangiovese in their wines, Castello di Verrazzano maintains 95 percent in its two main versions of Chianti Classico—Normale ($26) and Riserva ($40)—making for a slightly lighter-bodied wine with a more racy acidity and tannins that more effectively complement the florals and delicacy that the particular clones of Sangiovese grown in the region bring to the table. Third, rather than move with its peers to aging in smaller oak barrels, the winery is using large format oak to age its wines, which again helps maintain a more classic and elegant, fruit-integrated style for the wines (for you somms: think versatility). All that said, Castello di Verrazzano is not strictly traditional in their thinking. They are also embracing some key modernist ideas, as well as new regula - tions recently made available within the Chianti Classico DOCG classification system. For instance, Verrazzano makes a wine called Sassello, considered its top offering. Made only in select years when conditions are right, Sassello ($79) is vinified from fruit harvested only from the estate's La Querciolina vineyard, and only in the best growing years. Labeled as a Gran Selezione, the new "highest quality" designation within the Chianti Classico DOCG labeling hierarchy, Sassello is the ultimate expression of the potential that Chianti Classico represents, a silky, beautifully made 100% Sangiovese wine that is quickly becoming a standard bearer for the region's winemaking potential. Castello di Verrazzano's Rosso di Verrazzano ($14), created with the 2000 vintage as a "Mini Tuscan" to cel - ebrate the new millennium, is a nod to very traditional Tuscan winemaking, including the use of white grapes in the blend. Vibrant Sangiovese and Canaiolo grapes combine with the suppleness of the white Trebbiano and Malvasia varieties to make an affordable, easy- drinking wine that nicely complements cuisine. The Castello also makes a Super Tuscan called Bottiglia Particolare. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese (they won't divulge the percentages), it incorporates many of the winemaking concepts eschewed in the above-mentioned ideals they main - tain for their two main Chianti Classico wines, such as the use of smaller oak barriques, aging the wine for 18 months in barrel and employing vinification techniques like controlled temperature fermentation and extended maceration times to fully realize the potential of the hand-picked fruit. The one anomaly for the Bottiglia Particolare is its price. With a U.S. retail of about $50 per bottle, it is—happily for us—well below the price point of many Super Tuscans that appear from the region. A conscious decision by the owners to make their Super Tuscan—like all the wines of Castello di Verrazzano—a wine that can be enjoyed everyday, instead of just for special occasions. Castello di Verrazzano wines are imported by Palm Bay International. { tuscany } PHOTO COURTESY OF CASTELLO DI VERRAZZANO Sassello is Verrazzano's top offering, made only in years when conditions are right. Rosso di Verrazzano is a "Mini Tuscan" that includes white grapes in the blend. Bottiglia Particolare is well below the price point of many other Super Tuscans. Spumantino is Castello di Verrazzano's wine bar in Florence.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The SOMM Journal - April / May 2016