Castello di Cacchiano is located in Gaiole in the province of Siena within the region of Tuscany.
This is the heart of the Chianti Classico territory and one of the most scenic areas to drive through. There are a number of are signs pointing in all directions for wineries and Tuscan towns. Some of the popular towns of the Chianti Classico zone, including Radda and Greve, are small, but have such charm, and character and watching the way folks live and interact with each other is so satisfying.
I had the opportunity to meet the owner of Castello di Cacchiano, Baron Giovanni Ricasoli-Firidolfi, at a local wine tasting event. Castello di Cacchiano is one of the most historic estates in Tuscany housing one of the most noble families and oldest wine producers. The theme of their website is “Identity, Engagement Heart”, and after meeting with Giovanni hearing the history and tasting his wines I can see why. Giovanni states that identity is not only determined by the soil, climate and the environment, but also the work that goes into the wine producing. Engagement is those of the past, present and future of making wine at Castello di Cacchiano. Lastly, the love and desire of what drives the whole operation is the heart behind it all.
Giovanni began his engagement in the world of wine in 1984. Giovanni’s famous ancestor, Baron Bettino Ricasoli, also known as the Iron Baron, was Prime Minister of Italy and a politician during the Risorgimento leading to Italy’s unification. He was also one of the men in the very beginning whom formulated what we know today as Chianti Classico. During the Risorgimento Italy faced much trouble in their vineyards along with the phylloxera epidemic that spread throughout. At the time canaiolo was the primary grape in chianti and the Baron changed the formula to have sangiovese dominate as it does today. In 1967 the DOC, Denominazione di Origine Controllata, regulation had been established.
The Cacchiano Castle was founded in the 10th century and has been in the Ricasoli family for over 1,000 years. Winemaking at the estate dates back to the 12th century. The history at this castle is intriguing as it defended the Florentine territory during the battles of Florence and Siena in the Middle Ages. Today, this estate consists of 495 acres (200 hectacres) with 60 acres (25 hectacres) dedicated to vineyards and the rest dedicated to their olive oil production. The vineyards lie at about 1300 feet above sea level with most slopes southern facing. They produce about 10,000 cases annually.
The most impressive of the wines I tried was the 2007 Millennio, meaning 1,000 years, which represents the thousand year anniversary of the estate. This wine is not produced ever year, as in 2008, since it comes from the best grapes from their vineyard site. This was the most elegant and silky on the palate with deep plum notes and great balance throughout. It’s made of 100% sangiovese and is aged in barriques and matured for 30 months. It was rated 93 points from Wine Spectator and received a number of other awards. Starting with the 2009 Millennio it will now fall under the new and highest classification for Chianti Classico previously discussed, Gran Selezione.
Being a lover of sangiovese I was also very impressed with the Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva with a preference for the Riserva. These wines were still youthful with aging potential. The tannin and structure of the wines were powerful with the Riserva showing a richness and noticeable fruit profile on the back end.
The blend of these two wines are the same with 95% sangiovese and the other 5% consisting of canaiolo, malvasia nera and colorino grapes. Giovanni stated that the 2006 vintage was one of the best from the decade. The Riserva had been aged 36 months in French barriques.
I finished with the Fonte Merlano, which was 100% Merlot. This is another wine not produced annually depending on quality as in 2009. It was full bodied with subtle tannins, but also presented elements of the land through the minerals displayed in the wine. This wine was aged 19 months in barriques.
Through this tasting and my meeting with Givoanni I experienced the perfect combination of history, “identity, engagement, and heart.” Don’t miss the opportunity to try these wines and explore this region.
— Jennifer Martin
Vino Travels is my blog focused on Italian wines and travel. I fell in love with Italy over 10 years ago when I studied abroad in Florence. I have now returned there 7 times including my recent marriage in the town of Bucine. My love and passion for Italy not only comes from my experience of living there, but also due to my Italian roots. I have traveled all over Italy and have experienced so many beautiful cities, wines, foods and traditions of each region that I love to share with the world. You can subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter and Facebook.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/69888761@N00/4624340774/ Top Photo by drdcuddy (vineyards)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/allan_harris/3277075760/ Photo by Allan Harris (cypress)
Concierge tip: The Relais Santa Croce is a great base not just for the beautiful historic city of Florence but also for exploring some of Tuscany’s best vineyards. And the hotel has just launched a special Tuscany Wine Experience package which includes the chance to get a unique behind-the-scenes tour of the exclusive Guicciardini Strozzi Domain in San Gimignano – heaven for wine lovers!