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Sipping Wine with an Italian Barone

Sipping Wine with an Italian Barone

Sipping Wine with an Italian Barone

Not even in Italy will you get to sit down with an Italian Barone to discuss wine invented by his family!  So it was a great pleasure to meet Barone Francesco Ricasoli during his recent stop over in Edmonton last week.

Author: Alison Phillips/Sunday, February 11, 2018/Categories: Blog, Wine

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Francesco is the 32nd Barone di Ricasoli and the great grandson of Bettino Ricasoli, who invented Chianti wine in 1872.  He is charming, knowledgeable and passionate about his 900 year old family wine business.

Brolio Castle has been in the Ricasoli family since 1141 and is situated in the famed  Italian Chianti region of Tuscany between Siena and Florence.  Ricasoli is the oldest winery in Italy, second oldest in the world, and largest winery in the Chianti Classico area, surrounded by 1200 hectares of beautiful, rolling countryside, majestic oak and chestnut trees.  235 hectares are planted to vineyard and 26 hectares are olive groves.  The wide variety of soils and climate contribute to the unique characteristics of the wines.

Since taking over his family vineyard in 1993, The Barone has done extensive renovations to both the vineyard and cellars while preserving the family tradition.  Like his great grandfather before him, he believes in education and attention to detail and practices “precision agriculture,” understanding the various plots, micro climates and soils in the region.  Over the last 10 plus years, he has undertaken a massive geological soil mapping project in partnership with the university which has enabled them to study more thoroughly where to plant certain grape varieties to ensure optimization of the land and consistency in the wines.  The soils in various vineyard plots consist of sandstone, calcareous limestone, schist, marine deposits in areas around 350 meters above sea level and alluvial terraces near the river.   Many of the vineyards are planted with clones of vines saved from ancient stock which are being grown and handled in a contemporary modern way while preserving the history of the winery.  And it is not limited to just the Sangiovese grape.

At harvest, grapes are hand picked, maceration is done very carefully especially the Sangiovese  as these grapes tend to be thin skinned.  They are vinified separately from each plot to see the evolution of the fruit.  They then decide how to blend or whether to keep them separate which helps to prevent costly mistakes and produce a more consistently palatable wine.

While not organic by designation, the winery operates a sustainable agricultural approach with great respect for nature, using moderate intervention when necessary.  This even includes the "cork" enclosures for his white and rose wines.  No longer cork wood, these enclosures are made from renewable polymers derived from sugar cane. 100 percent recyclable, with a net zero carbon footprint, it gives winemakers a choice of different oxygen transfer rates to prevent flaws from oxidation or reduction in certain types of wines. The skin on the outside allows the cork to be easily removed and inserted into bottle. Aesthetically, it has the look and feel of a natural cork with the wood grain.

While Chianti is predominantly known for it’s Red Wines, Ricasoli produces some exciting white wines worth trying.  The Albia Bianco Toscana 2016, is a young, fresh and easy blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Malvasia Bianca, prefect as an aperitif wine.  The Torricella Chardonnay di Toscana IGT 2015 was stunning. 70% Chardonnay 30% Sauvignon Blanc aged 8 months in barrel. With it’s amazing minerality, this is an age worthy white wine that should be considered in anyone’s cellar. The Albia Rose is a pale, blush made with 60% Sangiovese and 40% Merlot.  It is fresh, fragrant with wonderful minerality and flavour.

The signature Brolio Bettino Chianti Classico is a consistent favourite. 90% Sangiovese 10% Albrusco, look for the 2015 and 2016 vintages which are excellent. The Rocca Guicciarda Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2014 is a balanced Super Tuscan.  80% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot ,offering smooth, soft tannins, notes of black cherry and strawberry.

 At the top of the spectrum, Casalferro Rosso Toscana IGT 2013 & 2015 is a Single Vineyard 100% Merlot.  It is a fresh, Tuscan style wine displaying the true power of the terroir, the 2013 vintage, which is the 20th anniversary vintage,  garnered 93 points from Wine Spectator, 91 points Robert Parker.  Available in 6 packs and is limited in availability in this market.

 

If you are interested in ordering any of these Ricasoli Wines, please contact me, Alison Phillips.  alison@aligrawineandspirits.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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