“Growing grapes and making wine is an art. A kind of art handed down from father to son, which can only be learned through long, slow and laborious experience, taking place again and again according to the seasons cycle” …. PierGiorgio Castellani
It isn’t often that you discover a family wine estate that has remained under the radar; let alone one of a substantial size. So when I came across the subject of today’s article, I was skeptical. To make matters more tenuous, once I realized who the importer of the wine was, an importer I generally find to represent awful wineries, I was very, very hesitant. However, the wine was recommended to me by someone I trust and so I decided to accept his suggestion.
The Castellani family has been making wine across Tuscany for generations. The genesis was in 1903 when Alfredo Castellani began bottling his own wines near Montecalvoli. Today, the family owns vineyards that are divided among six separate estates which all lie in Chianti and Chianti Classico. Together, they span more than 1,000 hectares and are situated between Florence and Siena with a westerly concentration in Pontedera, nearer to San Gimignano. The family’s philosophy is very simple as PierGiorgio states:
“Since 1903 my family has been exporting its own Estate wines from Tuscany. We have changed and evolved over the decades, but throughout the years the philosophy of our work has remained consistent: “The quality of the wine begins in the vineyard”, as my ancestors used to say. Today, as we enter this century, our aim and aspiration is what it has always been: to create memorable wines. This is the reason why our work during the last ten years has been so passionate, investing in research and new cellar technologies.”
The 2012 Famiglia Castellani Chianti Classico Riserva is produced from estate grown grapes and is predominantly Sangiovese (96%) with a small addition of Merlot. Deep ruby in the glass, the wine is at once effusive with notes of crushed berries, Tuscan underbrush, fresh pipe tobacco and freshly roasted mushroom. I love the harmony of the aromas here. On the palate, the wine is elegant and refined. Forward and juicy, with ripe notes of crushed wild berry, cypress needle, tobacco and earth it is complex and generous. Medium to full bodied with well integrated tannins that only assert themselves on the finish, this drinks incredibly well with and without food. Although it is drinking very well now, it is so well balanced that 3-5 years cellaring should not be out of the question. Aged 2 full years in large Slavonian Botte, the wine is then refined an additional year in bottle. This is an excellent value. 92 points. About $15.