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Castello di Verrazzano Rosso 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 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.
Big, bold and modern in style, Tuscan Blends can be composed solely of international grape varieties or a mix of international and indigenous. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, are some of the most popular. They all marry with the indigenous Sangiovese very well, or can be blended together without Sangiovese—or even made on their own as single varietal bottlings!
Where did the idea come from? In the 1970s a few Tuscan winemakers had become disenchanted with Italian winemaking laws and decided to retaliate and get creative. They started making wine solely from these international grapes or adding them to Sangiovese, in differing proportions, with amazing success—and the phenomenon was born.
The most famous and revered Tuscan Blends from Italy are called “Super Tuscans.” One of the most well-known, ‘Tignanello,’ created by Antinori in 1971, is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc.
Ornellaia, established by Marchesi Lodovico Antinori in 1981, with the help of renowned agronomist Andre Tchelistcheff, remains a stellar example today; since 2002 Marchesi de' Frescobaldi has been the sole owner. It is typically a blend of about half Cabernet Sauvignon, a third Merlot and the rest filled in with Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Sassicaia, another, has earned itself an extraordinary reputation and global esteem, so much so that the Sassicaia property was actually awarded its very own appellation with the 1994 vintage. It is typically 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc.