Castellare di Castellina lies on the Strada Provinciale 130 in some of the most beautiful woods outside Castellina in Chianti. Founded in 1977, the estate is relatively young. However, it is fortunate enough to hold some of the highest vineyard parcels in all of Chianti Classico. Many of the vineyards are situated as high as 1,200 feet above sea level. As a result, the temperature fluctuations between day and night allow for wonderful maturation of Sangiovese.
Located in Castellina in Chianti, the 46 acre estate has become a sort of natural refuge for forestry and wildlife. In fact, many of the birds that grace Castellare’s labels are native to their estate which is legally protected by the Italian Government.
Owned by Paolo Panerai, the winemaking team is dedicated to crafting honest, premium wines driven by terroir. They are farmers and as Paolo muses, “each vintage is unique and demands the attention of the winemaker to listen to what nature has provided”.
In the late 1970s, as Castellare was taking shape, it was quickly realized that the cement vats used for fermentation offered limited capacity. At the time, production was capped at about 20,000 bottles per year. The new technology being employed was temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Despite this modern advancement, when the time came to renovate, the family was determined to retain the authentic look and structure of the existing winery.
During the renovation, “lively” debate was undertaken regarding the fate of the existing cement tanks. At the urging of Giacomo Tachis, the decision was made to retain the tanks and glaze them. Following Tachis’ method, the tanks are used to hold finished wine for several months prior to bottling. It was his belief that this time to rest allowed the wine to become one cohesive entity.
My last update on the subject of this article was the wonderful 2016 Classico. Given the uneven nature of the current vintage, I wasn’t expecting the wines to be on equal planes. They are not.
The 2018 Castellare Chianti Classico is a pretty representation of the Castellina terroir. Comprised predominantly of Sangiovese, there is a small proportion of Canaiolo in the blend. Panerai eschews Cabernet and Merlot for his Chianti Classico. He told me: “We use only native vines to maintain the most typical formula for Chianti Classico without following the trend of wines from the South to modify the beautiful ruby red typical of the Sangioveto with red-black hues.” Yikes!
Indeed the color is a brilliant, shimmering ruby red. The aromas are very floral with stargazer lily and tiger lily very apparent and obscuring the cherry fruit. On the palate, the wine is very sapid and mouthwatering. It’s sour cherry flavors verge too close to cranberry for my taste. I think that is the character of this vintage. Medium bodied and with decent persistence but what little tannin there is becomes slightly bitter on the finish. It’s probably one of the more appealing 18s that I’ve had. But considering how easy it still is to buy 2016s, I don’t see the allure. 86 points. Find this wine.