Ricasoli; Respecting the Soil Since 1141

Defining Chianti

Located in the center of Chianti Classico stands an impressive castle that dates back to the middle ages. The Brolio Castle is the home of the oldest winery in Italy and the once home of Baron Ricasoli. The Ricasoli family has played an important role in not just the Chianti wine industry but also to the existence of Italy as a unified country itself.

Bettinio Ricasoli
courtesy of ricasoli.com

Baron Bettino Ricasoli holds the distinct honor of creating the Chianti Formula in 1872. It was then that the Lega del Chianti (League of Chianti) would become the heart and soul of the Chianti Classico Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG.) Originally, the wines of the area were mostly whites and to put gently, not so “interesting.” But as their wines began to grow in quality, the villages nearby in Tuscany wanted to benefit from their success and include Chianti on their labels. 

Baron Bettino Ricasoli, who would eventually become the Prime Minister of Italy, was determined to make sure the quality and reputation that was created would be maintained.  In 1872, he recommended 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia bianca to be the recipe required to be labelled Chianti. Almost 200 years later, in 1967, the Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) established the “Ricasoli formula” of a Sangiovese-based blend with 10-30% Malvasia and Trebbiano.

Orphaned as a child, Ricasoli saw his family’s estate at Brolio turn to near shambles. Once married, he made it his mission to return it to its beauty of his childhood. He traveled to Germany and France in order to learn the latest winemaking strategies and returned home with cuttings. After studying which vines were the most successful he decided to focus on Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia. 

Brolio Today

Today, just as it was in 1872, Brolio Castle remains a symbol of the Chianti Classico area. Standing tall among hills, valleys and woodlands. The property boasts 1,200 hectares of land with about 240 hectares under vine and 26 of olive groves. The vineyards sit at altitudes that range from 220 to 500 meters with a south, southwest exposure. The majority of rain, in this Mediterranean climate, occurs mostly in the Spring and Autumn and averages about 32 inches per year. The winters are somewhat mild and the summers are hot and dry. 

Brolio Castle, Italy
courtesy: Ricasoli Family

As the decades passed, generations of the Ricasoli family continued the wine industry at Brolio Castle. The saying may state, “Like father like son,” but in this case it should read “Like great grandfather like great grandson.” Just as Bettino experimented with grape varieties to determine how to produce the highest quality wines, today, Francesco Ricasoli, Bettino’s great-grandson, also found his inspiration in the Brolio estate. Since 1993, when Francesco took over as owner and president, he has relied on science to create the highest quality Chainti wines possible. With the tenacious belief that he must leave the soil better for the next generation, he has worked hard to improve Chianti. 

Improving Chianti

soil types of Chianti
courtesy of: Ricasoli

Under Francesco’s supervision, the vineyards at Brolio are now sustainably farmed and continued research for clonal selection is always being performed. In 2008, in collaboration with the Italian Council for Research and Experimentation in Agriculture (CRA), Francesco began an extensive study of the vineyards. For three years, the soils and vines were evaluated, so that an understanding of what created the best results in the final bottle.  

The plot-by-plot study identified 19 different soil types with five principal soil substrates. The results allowed them to identify superior qualities within certain plots, ultimately creating Sangiovese Crus of Castello di Brolio.

The Wines 

In May, I was privileged enough to attend a tasting event in NYC hosted by Gregory and Vine. At the event, I had the opportunity to taste through the Ricasoli portfolio and to meet Francesco Ricasoli, Massiiliano Biagi, and Michael Mondavi (founder and coach of Folio Fine Wines Partners; Importer)

 

 

 

 

 

bottle image of Brolio 2015 Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG

👀 clear, deep ruby in color

👃🏻 clean, medium aromas cherry, leather, licorice

👄 dry, medium (+) acidity, medium tannin, medium alcohol, medium body, medium (+) flavors, cherry, vanilla.

💭 80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, Stainless steel fermentation, 9 months in barriques and tonneaux followed by 3-6 months bottle aging. medium (-) finish. drink now or age.

2016 Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG

👀 clear, deep ruby in color

👃🏻 clean, pronounced aromas of sour cherry, anise, violets

👄 dry, high acidity, medium (-) tannin, medium alcohol, medium body, medium (+) flavors dark cherry, cedar, minerality

💭 80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, Stainless steel fermentation, 9 months aging in tonneaux. medium finish. drink now, benefit from aging

botle image of Brolio Riserva2015 Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG

👀 clear, medium ruby in color

👃🏻 clean, medium aromas of cherry, leather black fruits

👄 dry, medium acidity, medium tannin, medium (-) alcohol, medium (-) body, pronounced flavors dark cherry, sour cherry, chocolate, and spice

💭 80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, Stainless steel fermentation, 16 months in barrique and tonneaux followed by 3-6 months bottle aging. long finish, drink now, benefit from aging. 

2016 Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 

👀 clear, medium ruby in color

👃🏻 clean medium (-) aromas herbal notes, black cherry

👄 dry, medium (-) acidity, medium (-) tannin, medium alcohol, medium body, pronounced flavors lavender, rosemary, cherry, spice 

💭 80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, Stainless steel fermentation, 18 months in tonneaux, long finish, drink now, benefits with age

The Crus

Produced from 100% Sangiovese and single vineyards these wines have an average James Suckling rating of 96! These Crus have their distinctive characteristics thanks to the soils that they are grown in. Colledilà is from Monte Morello soil. Roncicone is grown on Marine deposit soil and CeniPrimofrom Ancient fluvial terrace soil.

bottle image of Colledila2015 Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 

👀 clear, medium ruby in color

👃🏻 clean pronounced aromas leather, cherry and plum

👄 dry, medium acidity, medium tannin, medium alcohol, medium body, pronounced flavors plum, black fruit. 

💭 100% Sangiovese, 18 months in 500-litre tonneaus of which 30% new and 70% second passage. medium (+) drink now or age.

2016 Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 

👀 clear, medium (+) ruby in color

👃🏻 clean medium aromas cherry, mint, earth

👄 dry, medium acidity, medium tannin, medium alcohol, medium (-) body, pronounced flavors ripe red fruit, tobacco and minerality, 

💭 100% Sangiovese, 18 months in 500-litre tonneaus of which 30% new and 70% second passage. long finish. drink now or age.

botte image of Roncicone2015 Roncicone Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 

👀 clear, deep ruby in color

👃🏻 clean pronounced aromas floral, herbal, rosemary, oak

👄 dry, high acidity, medium (+) tannin, medium alcohol, full body, pronounced flavors spice, stone, cherry, 

💭 100% Sangiovese, 18 months in 500-litre tonneaus of which 30% new and 70% second passage. long finish. drink now or age.

2016 Roncicone Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 

👀 clear, medium ruby in color

👃🏻 clean pronounced aromas floral, lavender, rosemary, cherry

👄 dry, high acidity, high tannin, medium alcohol, medium (-) body, pronounced flavors spice, black cherry, tobacco, and earth

💭 100% Sangiovese, 18 months in 500-litre tonneaus of which 30% new and 70% second passage. long finish. drink now or age.

bottle image of CeniPrimo2015 Ceniprimo Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 

👀 clear, deep ruby in color

👃🏻 clean pronounced aromas cinnamon, cherry, spice

👄 dry, high acidity, medium (+) tannin, medium alcohol, medium (+) body, pronounced flavors black cherry, oak, mineral, cherry

💭 100% Sangiovese, 18 months in 500-litre tonneaus of which 30% new and 70% second passage. medium finish. drink now or age.

2016 Ceniprimo Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 

👀 clear, medium (+) ruby in color

👃🏻 clean pronounced aromas sour cherry, black cherry, anise, strawberries, spice

👄 dry, high acidity, medium tannin, medium alcohol, medium (+) body, pronounced flavors spice, spearmint, cherry, plum, floral

💭 100% Sangiovese, 18 months in 500-litre tonneaus of which 30% new and 70% second passage. long finish. drink now benefits with age.

Learned through Science; Expressed on Palate

Through Francesco’s research, each soil type, thereby Cru has a distinct profile that is definitely expressed:

web graph of sangiovese crus descriptors

 

Scrutiny is applied at each level of the winemaking process. Often you will find the vineyard crew harvesting row-by-row.  After gentle transfer, push downs and fermentation, the wines are transferred to the original 19th century rooms in the base of the castle that have all been modernized for ideal aging. The vineyard of Brolio Castle may be large, but they are farmed small. Each parcel harvested and vinified independently, with deliberate attention to the subsoils below that are expressed exceptionally on the palate. 

Give yourself a treat; you know you deserve one! Find these wines and acquire them. I promise your palate will be pleased. You can find out more about them on their website as well as at Folio Fine Wine Partners and see for yourself why they truly are Masters of Sangiovese.

~Sláinte! 
Please follow me on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook. You can also find me on YouTube and if you are interested in wine pairings, follow my other blog, Wine Pairing with Dracaena Wines. And don’t forget about my FREE wine education series, Winephabet Street.

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