Castell'in Villa, Chianti Classico
Castell'in Villa, Chianti Classico

Castell'in Villa, Chianti Classico

Tuscany, Italy 2019
Regular price$44.00

Castell'in Villa, Chianti Classico

For us, it’s all about authenticity: We’re never happier than when a wine evokes its place of origin. But what about the wine “market” in general? If authenticity were more broadly valued, we’d see more Chianti Classico wines like today’s 2019 from Castell’in Villa. Most producers in the region turned away from this style—woodsy, earthy, tangy—in favor of softer, sweeter wines fattened up with “international” grapes and new oak. Many of the latter are delicious, but they don’t do what Castell’in Villa’s does—namely, transmit a sense of place that is vivid and unmistakable. Traditional Tuscan Sangiovese, of which this is an archetypal example, is a push-pull of black cherry fruit and savory, smoky underbrush, with enough acidity to cut through the fat of a bistecca like the proverbial knife through butter. It will age like a champ, too, as this legendary estate has proved vintage after vintage. And, as “reference-point” wines go, you won’t find a better value!

And this is surely one of Chianti Classico’s reference-point properties. Located outside of Castelnuovo Berardenga, in the southeastern section of the Chianti Classico DOCG, Castell’in Villa was once a Medieval hamlet unto itself. When Princess Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa and her husband originally purchased the property in 1968, it included just a hectare of vineyards, but today the estate extends to about 300 hectares, 54 of which are vineyards and 32 more are olive groves. One of the estate’s centerpieces is a 13th century stone tower, where the family lives, along with a chapel and other structures from the same era. 

The “Principessa,” as she is known to many in the wine trade, is a hands-on proprietor in both the vineyards and the cellar, and has stayed resolute in her commitment to more traditionally styled Chianti wines. The estate has become known for its periodic releases of back-vintage wines from their cellars, which offer rare glimpses of the impressive longevity of Sangiovese from Chianti Classico; we’ve tasted vintages going back to the 1970s that would give red Burgundies of the same era a serious run for their money!

Even the “current’ releases from Castell’in Villa (like today’s ’19) are held back much longer than those of their contemporaries. Sourced from estate vineyards planted in sandy, pebbly soils, today’s wine spent 12 months in large, used oak botti before bottling, after which it rested further before its release into the market. It’s clear from the first sip that even their most modestly priced wine is structured for aging: It is concentrated and muscular, with profound minerality and some grip to the tannins, which soften considerably as the wine takes on air (note: this is not a “pop and pour” kind of wine; give it 30-60 minutes in a decanter to blossom). 

In the glass, it’s a medium garnet-red with hints of pink and brick orange at the rim, with aromas of blackberries, raspberries and other brambly fruits mixed with leather, tar, brown spices, smoke, and cedar. Medium-bodied and full of woodsy, smoky savor, this wine needs to be on the table with food, as the “cocktail hour” will not do it justice: Serving it at 60 degrees in Burgundy stems next to a grilled ribeye may be the Platonic ideal, but we recommend the Sangiovese/steak combination a lot—so let’s mix it up and work in another Tuscan staple: Porcini mushrooms. There’ll be other opportunities for the steak, as this ’19 is only going to get better over the next 5-7 years. Load up!

Castell'in Villa, Chianti Classico

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