Barone Ricasoli is the oldest winery in Italy. As a family owned business, it can claim to be the 4th oldest business in the world. Baron Bettino Ricasoli is credited with creating and promoting the original formula for Chianti wine. He proved to be remarkably prescient even as he was refining the formula for what would ultimately become Chianti. His early writings from 1872 provide insight to his thinking. Specifically, even at that nascent moment, he realized the inferior result obtained by including white grapes in the blend. However, his desire for an accessible wine was clearly reflected in his thinking. It would be almost 105 years later that Marchese Antinori would validate Bettino’s early thinking.
” …I verified the results of the early experiments, that is, that the wine receives most of its aroma from the Sangioveto (which is my particular aim) as well as a certain vigour in taste; the Canaiuolo gives it a sweetness which tempers the harshness of the former without taking away any of its aroma, though it has an aroma all of its own; the Malvagia, which could probably be omitted for wines for laying down, tends to dilute the wine made from the first two grapes, but increases the taste and makes the wine lighter and more readily suitable for daily consumption…”
Castello di Brolio is fanciful. The castle and its surroundings seem as though they are from another time. A time of knights jousting, round table courts and fairy tales. I suppose that’s true in a sense, as the Castle passed to the Ricasoli family in the year 1141. Since that time, wine has been made on these premises and the family has called the castle home. Today the estate is run by Francesco Ricasoli and is compromised of roughly 235 hectares; most of which have been replanted in the mid 1990s.
Today we’re reviewing one of Brolio’s recent releases. The 2013 Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva is a blend of 80% Sangiovese with the balance mostly to Merlot (15%) and Cabernet (5%). Made in a more modern style, the wine is vinified in stainless steel and then spends 16 months in French barrique. In the glass, the ruby red plum color is very attractive. Aromas lift effortlessly from the glass and include straightforward cherry, menthol and vanilla notes. Flavors follow the nose and pick up notes of pine needle, baking spice and cured meat. This paired nicely with the tomato tart pictured and also with a simply Rigatoni filetto di pomodoro. Not a bruiser of a Riserva, but more accessible – almost in the style that Bettino would approve of. 90 points, about $23. Disclosure: This bottle was a sample provided for review.
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