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Castello di Verrazzano Chianti Classico 2008
Stewards of Chianti Classico, Castello di Verrazzano has played an indelible role in Tuscan winemaking and American history. Owners Luigi and Silvia Cappellini pour their passion into the estate, producing traditional wines that deservedly enjoy an incredibly loyal following around the world.
A founding member of the Consorzio del Chianti Classico, Verrazzano has made wine since the earliest times. The property occupies the site of former Etruscan and Roman settlements and was home to the explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who was the first to discover America’s east coast, landing at the bay of New York in the early 16th century.
Since acquiring the estate, the Cappellini family has replanted Verrazzano's vineyards, which fan out from the forest limits down to the valley below. Located on a hilltop in the Greve, the heart of Chianti Classico, Verrazzano’s 220 acre estate includes 52 hectares of vineyards at altitudes between 280 and 400 meters above sea level, higher than average Chianti Classico vineyards. Though present in southern parts of the Classico area, limestone is unique to Verrazzano which is in the cooler, northern part of the zone. This singular combination of limestone soil and cooler growing conditions accounts for the wines’ muscularity and finesse. The true lifeblood of the vineyards comes from the surrounding Verrazzano-owned woodland area, which acts as a cocoon for the vines; offering pollution protection and maintaining freshness. In addition, the entire winery is heated by wood from these forests.
The Cappellini's joy and sense of pride in their home is evident everywhere one looks. Warm and generous hosts, they welcome a constant stream of visitors at their beautifully restored estate.
One of the first wine regions anywhere to be officially recognized and delimited, Chianti Classico is today what was originally defined simply as Chianti. Already identified by the early 18th century as a superior zone, the official name of Chianti was proclaimed upon the area surrounding the townships of Castellina, Radda and Gaiole, just north of Siena, by Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany in an official decree in 1716.
However, by the 1930s the Italian government had appended this historic zone with additonal land in order to capitalize on the Chianti name. It wasn’t until 1996 that Chianti Classico became autonomous once again when the government granted a separate DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) to its borders. Ever since, Chianti Classico considers itself no longer a subzone of Chianti.
Many Classicos are today made of 100% Sangiovese but can include up to 20% of other approved varieties grown within the Classico borders. The best Classicos will have a bright acidity, supple tannins and be full-bodied with plenty of ripe fruit (plums, black cherry, blackberry). Also common among the best Classicos are expressive notes of cedar, dried herbs, fennel, balsamic or tobacco.
The perfect intersection of bright red fruit and savory earthiness, Sangiovese is among Italy's elite red grape varieties and is responsible for the best red wines of Tuscany. While it is best known as the chief component of Chianti, it is also the main grape in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and reaches the height of its power and intensity in the complex, long-lived Brunello di Montalcino
Elsewhere throughout Italy, Sangiovese plays an important role in many easy-drinking, value-driven red blends and on the French island of Corsica, under the name Nielluccio, it produces excellent bright and refreshing red and rosé wines with a personality of their own. Sangiovese has also enjoyed success growing in California and Washington.
In the Glass
Sangiovese is a medium-bodied red with qualities of tart cherry, plum, sun dried tomato, fresh tobacco and herbs. High-quality, well-aged examples can take on tertiary notes of smoke, leather, game, potpourri and dried fruit. Corsican Nielluccio is distinguished by a subtle perfume of dried flowers.
Sangiovese is the ultimate pizza and pasta red—its high acidity, moderate alcohol, and fine-grained tannins create a perfect symbiosis with tomato-based dishes, braised vegetables, roasted and cured meat, hard cheese and anything off the barbecue.
Although it is the star variety of Tuscany, cult-classic “Super-Tuscan” wines may actually contain no Sangiovese at all! Since the 1970s, local winemakers have been producing big, bold wines as a blend of one or more of several international varieties—usually Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot or Syrah—with or without Sangiovese.