The Ricasoli family have been producing and selling wine since the 12th century. Documents establish their winemaking as early as 1141 at the stunning Brolio castle, a dominating structure in Gaiolo Chianti, southwest Tuscany. The oldest wine family in Italy is not only a legend in Chianti Classico, but also around the world, as one of the oldest continuously operating family companies.
In the beginning of the 19th century, Baron Bettino Ricasoli, [a prominent statesman that contributed to the Italian unification and later a Prime Minister], transformed winemaking in Chianti Classico by experimenting with local grapes and different production methods in order to create a high quality, age worthy wine. In 1872 he wrote his now legendary letter in which he recommended, among other things, blending Sangiovese with Canaiolo. A pioneering force in Tuscany, he revolutionized and modernized winemaking practices and essentially created the formula for Chianti wine.
The estate is located in Gaiole in Chianti, roughly 15 kilometers northeast of Siena and 40 kilometers southeast of Florence. The 1,200 hectares of rolling hills and woodlands include almost 240 hectares of sustainable farmed vineyards and 26 hectares of olive groves.
Today Bettino’s great grandson, and the 32nd generation Baron of Brolio,
Francesco Ricasoli heads the renowned estate. Following in his great grandfather’s footsteps, he has conducted extensive research on both the soils and vines. He isolated and preserved a biotype of Sangiovese that is unique to Brolio and is now listed in the National Grape Register of the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies. He has also made advances in sustainable viticulture practices and identified 19 different soil types at the estate. Vines are planted in plots according to the soil’s distinctive characteristics, in order to achieve the highest quality, potential and expression of the terroir.
Brolio Castle, with its museum, Osteria del Castello restaurant, and a cozy Tuscan guesthouse, is a great excursion out of the cities for those looking for idyllic, picturesque, pristine Tuscany. The estate produces a range of wines, including Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, single vineyard ‘cru’ wines, Toscana IGT and olive oils.
Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Brolio DOCG 2015
Winemaking: Grapes are from vineyards 280 to 480 meters above sea level with greatly varied soils, but all are very stony. Fermented in stainless steel at controlled temperature of 24°C-27°C (75.2°-80.6°F) with 12/16 days of skin contact. Aged for 9 months in barriques and tonneaux. A further 3-6 months of bottle ageing follows.
Tasting Notes: Dark transparent garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, black cherry, white pepper, violet, cigar box spice, woodsy oak and a meaty trace. Cherry, pomegranate, thyme and white pepper are framed by snappy acidity and firm tannins. Fruit and baking spice linger on lengthy, plush finish. Well structured, balanced, silky smooth, a quintessential Chianti Classico.
A minimum of 80% Sangiovese, roughly 15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
$17 [average price]
Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Brolio Riserva DOCG 2015
Winemaking: Grapes are from vineyards with different exposures, at 290 meters to 500 meters above sea level. The soil is a mix of sandstone, marl, marine deposits, and calcarenites locally called “alberese”. Fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 24°C-27°C (75.2°-80.6°F) with 14-16 days of skin contact. Aged for 18 months in tonneaux of first and second usage.
Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, violet, black pepper, candied orange, Tuscan herbs and a wisp of vanilla. Silky layers of cherry, blackberry, plum, red currant and tobacco wrap around a spicy core. Big, sleek tannins and fresh acidity fuse with Tuscan underbrush, woodsy oak and cherry on the velvety finish. Refined, gallant and composed, a harmonious sip.
80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
$23 [average price]
Samples submitted for editorial consideration.