Castellare di Castellina
Summary: Castellare di Castellina offers tourists a tour with a wine tasting. The winery and vineyards are located off a small road near Castellina. The winery focuses on Chianti Classico. Except for the Bordeaux mixture, the vineyard does not use pesticides or herbicides.
After driving on winding roads between vineyards and tree-lined roads, we arrived at Castellare di Castellina. The day was cloudy and rainy and a mist hovered in the distance.
The property the winery is located on previously had vineyards for private use. The current owner purchased the property and began to grow grapes and produce wine commercially in 1979.
Luca Ballarin, cellar master, gave us a tour of the facility and described the vineyards. Besides his work as the cellar master, Ballarin also works in the wine shop and the vineyards when needed. The vineyards consist of 24 hectares of which 18 hectares are Sangiovese grapes. Five to six hectares are devoted to olive trees. The owner of the winery lives nearby and has vineyards on his property. Another property within sight of the winery has rooms to rent. Five rooms are available and up to 25 visitors can occupy them.
Today Castellare di Castellina produces about 240,000 bottles (20,000 cases) of wine each year. The winery and vineyards are based on tradition but use some innovation. As we walked through the production area of the winery, we entered a room with ceramic tile on two walls. At the bottom is the small door as seen on stainless steel tanks. Ballarin described the tanks behind the walls as being tanks made of cement. The winery uses these tanks for the storage of wine before bottling and for blending wines. One tank held a 2006 Sangiovese and had a capacity of 138 HL (36,000 gallons).
Walking through the aged cellars, we saw numerous barrels. Currently the winery has 650 French oak barrels. Five years is the maximum use for the oak barrels. The barrels (barrique) we see in the U.S. and we saw larger barrels (tonneaux.) The barrique size holds 225 liters and the tonneaux holds 500 liters. One aging cellar maintains the temperature at 18 degrees Celsius and the cellar is kept at 90% humidity. Entering a smaller room, we saw “old” wines resting on shelves. Here the oldest bottle is from 1979.
The first tasting room is small but to the side is a room for large groups. The little tasting room has a small counter and easily accommodates two or three visitors. Plaques of award winning wines are exhibited here. Bottles of wine, olive oil and red wine vinegar are displayed nearby. The larger tasting room has a large dark wood table. Benches are available for seating. Gathered at one end of the table are wines and stemware awaiting a bus group to arrive. The brick floor, bookcases on the wall and overhead beams with brick add to the ambience of the room.
We tasted three wines while we were at the winery. The Chianti Classico 2005 is ruby red, has a dark fruit bouquet and red fruit taste. It is crisp on the finish and has very soft tannins. The second wine tasted is Castellare di Castellina’s version of a Super Tuscan, I Sodi Di S Niccolo 2001, also the name of the vineyards near the owner’s house. This wine is dark ruby red and has a vegetative bouquet. The taste is a dark red fruit. It has a good balance of fruit, acid and soft tannins. The winemaker blends this with Malvasia because Malvasia also has soft tannins. It is different from the Super Tuscans blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. The third wine tasted was Poggio Ai Merli 2002. It had a dark red fruit bouquet and a vegetable fruit flavor. It has good acid and tannins.
The labels on the bottles feature rare birds from the Tuscany area. A different bird is used for each vintage.
Castellare di Castellina is a pleasant winery to visit. We believe you will enjoy visiting this winery but if your do not have the opportunity, you may find the wine imported into your country. Castellare di Castellina exports their wines to the U.S., Canada and Europe. If you have the opportunity to visit, do not miss the tour or the picturesque view across the valley.
GPS N 43° 27.937 E 11° 16.130 Elevation 474 meters
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