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Castagnoli Stielle 1998

Other Red Blends from Tuscany, Italy
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Castagnoli

Rocca di Castagnoli

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Rocca di Castagnoli, Tuscany, Italy
Castagnoli is a small estate in Castellina in Chianti on the western edge of the Chianti Classico DOCG. This estate possesses a striking terroir, one of Chianti’s most beautiful. Steep terraces are carved out of a western facing amphitheatre below the winery. The soil is highly decomposed and flaky galestro schist. The Sangiovese vines are pruned and trellised like Syrah of the northern Rhône, with one wooden stake per vine. There are several small micro-terroirs that are vinified separately and ultimately blended into the estate’s three wines: Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, or IGT Toscano Rosso “Salita.” Salita is a single parcel of higher-altitude terraces with southern exposition. The name “Salita” refers to the sun-baked nature of the section of the vineyard.

Owner Alfred Schefenacker is the driving force behind this tiny estate with amazing potential. He is intent on restoring and developing it into one of the finest estates in Chianti. The Castagnoli terreno is one of cool climate, high altitude Sangiovese (vines are planted higher than 1000 feet above sea level) but one with a lot of lower-end depth and concentration. High-toned aromatics including blood orange are on display, a medium-full bodied frame with smoked meat, black olive and rosemary to complement the red fruits, solid acidity and tannin. It is a unique style in Chianti born of a unique terroir, and it possesses a cool elegance that makes it immediately drinkable and very pleasurable though it will age well.

One of the most iconic Italian regions for wine, scenery and history, Tuscany is the world’s most important outpost for the Sangiovese grape. Ranging in style from fruity and simple to complex and age-worthy, Sangiovese makes up a significant percentage of plantings here, with the white Trebbiano Toscano coming in second.

Within Tuscany, many esteemed wines have their own respective sub-zones, including Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The climate is Mediterranean and the topography consists mostly of picturesque rolling hills, scattered with vineyards.

Sangiovese at its simplest produces straightforward pizza-friendly wines with bright and juicy red fruit, but at its best it shows remarkable complexity and ageability. Top-quality Sangiovese-based wines can be expressive of a range of characteristics such as sour cherry, balsamic, dried herbs, leather, fresh earth, dried flowers, anise and tobacco. Brunello expresses well the particularities of vintage variations and is thus popular among collectors. Chianti is associated with tangy and food-friendly dry wines at various price points. A more recent phenomenon as of the 1970s is the “Super Tuscan”—a wine made from international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, with or without Sangiovese. These are common in Tuscany’s coastal regions like Bolgheri, Val di Cornia, Carmignano and the island of Elba.

Other Red Blends

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With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.

WAL450983_1998 Item# 43186