~ Castello di Brolio sits prominently atop a hill in Gaiole ~

Gaiole is my least favorite Commune in all of Chianti Classico.  There, I’ve said it.  On it’s face, it’s not a bad thing.  It’s all subjective and well, someplace has to be last.  Right?

But the fact of the matter is, not only do I enjoy these wines the least,  I think it’s an area with a lot of bad wines.  What do I base that on?  A few things actually.  First, if you dig through my cellar, you’ll find no wines from Gaiole.  Niente.  Zero.   There’s a reason for this.

And it’s a factor of one thing, and one thing only.  Whenever I try a wine from a cantina I’m not familiar with, it fails to impress. And frankly, some go down the drain.  To me,  Gaiole seems to be a Commune that is largely rooted in the past.  Like they are still mired in the notion that quantity over quality is the goal.


~ Gaiole is as picturesque as any other Tuscan hill town ~

So you’re thinking,  OK – well you said you’re not fond of them.  That explains why they’re not in your cellar, but why – what don’t you like about them?  To that question, the answer is simple.

They’re not balanced.  Balance is the key to wine – in every wine, from every region across the globe.  Whether a wine is meant to be consumed young or cellared to perfection, balance is the key.  To my palate, the wines of Gaiole lack this quality. They are often slaves to terroir; so much so that it becomes a fault.  Earth, dirt, mulch and rotting leaves often dominate these wines.  That can be ok on the nose. But on the palate?  I often quip, I thought this was made from grapes. Where’s the fruit?

Yes, of course there are exceptions.  There always are.  Ricasoli and Badia a Coltibuono are iconic producers. But, if they “get it” why does it seem that no one else does?

Recently,  I tried two wines from Gaiole.  One I picked up on a lark – mostly because I wasn’t familiar with the producer and also because it was a 2019.  I hesitated when I saw Gaiole on the label.  But 2019? I took a chance.  The other was one of those orphans that get lost in the cellar.  And so the idea was laid.


~ A perfectly cooked Veal chop provided the foil for the wines to shine ~

Castello di Cacchiano is a fairly large property encompassing almost 500 acres to which 89 are planted to vines.  The estate was founded in 1983 by Giovanni Ricasoli, a descendant of the family that essentially put Gaiole on the map.  Cacchiano produces several typical red wines along with a Sparkling Rose and a Vin Santo.

The 2019 Castello di Cacchiano Chianti Classico is a medium ruby color that is very pretty.  This is a blend of 90% (or higher) Sangiovese with the balance to Colorino and Malvasia Nera.   On the nose, the wine is very attractive to smell.  Bright berry tones are accented with soft wood notes and spices.  Simple, but enjoyable.

On the palate, the wine presents itself like many more from Gaiole I’ve had.  The fruit profile is of snappy, crunchy cranberry with hints of dried spices and moderate weight tannins. The snappy, tart edge of the fruit – like Ocean Spray – dots the finish in a way that annoys me.  There is no “dirt” here, but it feels almost under ripe to me.  An odd thing to say of a 2019.  The final nail here, this isn’t the best value at almost $25-$30.   85 points.  Find this wine.


~ A nice wine, but nothing too impressive ~

Next up was a wine that, as I mentioned,  had gotten misplaced in the cellar.  I’m not prepared to say that it was past its prime, but perhaps it is on the downward slope.  When I began researching Fietri for this article,  I first ran into a website for an Agriturismo.  I thought I was in the wrong place but sure enough, no.   And this appears to be part of the problem.   Wine comes second for Fietri.  It seems they are a tourist destination first, that also makes some wine.  I never get too excited about places like this and with good reason. Regardless of where they are located, the results seem the same.

The 2012 Fietri Chianti Classico Riserva is a medium ruby in the glass that extends to amber and then balsamic colors at the edge of the bowl.  At 12 years of age, it’s starting to show it’s seniority.  On the nose, the wine offers older worn wood notes, mushroom, slight balsamic notes and fading cherry.  In the mouth, it’s more of the same.  The wine has seemingly lost some of its fruit energy.  Or maybe it wasn’t there in the first place?  This is thin on the mid-palate. It loses weight and on the back end, the drying tannins that remain seem all the more pronounced.  Is it dead?  No.  And with the Veal Chop pictured above, it was somewhat enjoyable.  But this wine was cellared well and I can’t vouch for how it got to me. If you have this one, drink it now.  85 points.  Find this wine.

Incidentally, it appears that this wine hasn’t been made since 2012 – so again I wonder if the Agriturismo is no longer exporting its production.  I can’t believe they wouldn’t bottle this in 2015 and 2016.


~ You can see the beginning of browning at the rim of the bowl. Yes, it’s 12 years old, but….. ~

What do you think about the wines of Gaiole?  On X f/k/a Twitter,  I recently conducted a poll asking my readers what their favorite Commune was for Chianti Classico.  The poll was limited to 4 choices, so any Commune not listed was to be addressed in the comments.  You can see the results here, or read on below.    It was interesting that in the comments,  Greve received a few mentions – and I do enjoy several wines from that Commune as well.  There was no mention of Gaiole.

~ Connect with me on Twitter if you haven’t already ~

If you have a differing opinion, I would love to hear your thoughts either on Twitter or in the Comment section of this article.


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