During our Tuscany trip we crossed and driven on lots of beautiful country roads, which is definitely one the reasons one should visit Tuscany (or Umbria, Lazio, or any other region in Italy)… if you miss this you’ve missed part of the Tuscany vibe to my opinion. One of the most beautiful and relaxing drives (it felt a bit like being in one of those car commercials) ,even as the driver during this trip, was towards the next vineyard we were about to visit, Castello d’albola one of the Zonin group vineyards. Arriving at Castello d’albola is as magical as driving on the roads to get there… As new as Fattoria Fibbiano was as old is Castello d’albola as it already originates from the 15th century, but only got bought by the Zonin Family in 1979. (if you want to know more about the history) The estate covers around 900 hectares of land or 900 football fields 🙂 of which 150 have vineyards on them and the rest is mostly covered with olive threes which gives you the most beautiful panoramic views. Maybe some pictures help you to convince how beautiful it is up there?? (Admitted the sunny weather made it even better)
What I forgot to mention is that Castello d’albola is located just out of the “downtown” of Radda in Chianti one of the few towns where the production of Chianti is allowed. Maybe the first question I should ask you is what do you actually know about Chianti besides it being from Tuscany? When I say Chianti I’m not talking about the “Fiasco”, but about the Chianti Classico and Superiore. The Chianti Classico (can be recognised with the black rooster label on the bottle) and Chiant Superiore can only be produced with grapes from in Castellina in Chianti (SI), Gaiole in Chianti (SI), Greve in Chianti (FI) and Radda in Chianti (SI) and a few little towns on their borders also called sub-zones (for the Superiore grapes cannot come from the border towns). On top of the limitations on the “grape areas” there are also strict rules on the kinds of grapes that can be used to make the wine and aging rules (just like you would have rules for making Champagne, Barolo,…). A Chianti can only be called Chianti when a minimum of 80% of Sangiovese grapes are used to make the wine and if mixed with other grapes (so the remaining 20%), these grapes have to be on the list of allowed grapes like Canaiolo for example. The reason why some winemakers will be mixing Sangiovese with othere grapes is to soften the wines as the Sangiovese grape is a very strong grape with lots of tannins… The aging time must be a minimum of 7 months. I could go on talking about Chianti, but maybe this would bore you and it would take me too much off track about the actual trip 🙂
I do want to add one more thing. Although most wine estates will like making Chianti wine out of respect for tradition, but most estates will mostly also be making a (super) Toscana IGT where the rules are less strict and a winemaker can let himself go and be creative and show how good he actually is…
It was nice walking around the Castello d’albola’s vineyard as you can feel the history it carries around, somehow it feels like you are going back in time (but then with modern lightning and other features as a bonus) and as like it was meant to be a few motorbikes from 1915 (so from during WO I) were standing on the parking of the estate (they were from other people visiting the vineyard) … so the historical feel was even bigger. It is just unbelievable how thick the walls are from historical buildings like Castello d’albola and how isolating they are (how the keep the right temperature inside). Castello d’albola is worth the visit when you’re visit Tuscany.
Castello d’albola produces between 500 000 and 800 000 bottles a year (depending on the weather conditions that would influence the harvest (amount)). Part of wines ages in the old cellars, but most of the wine ages in the in 1991newly build warehouse (although I’m not sure it is the right name for it as it is more than that) which has all the modern facilities a winemaker should have to make good wine 🙂
Like all visits the best part is always the tasting of the finished product where lots of people have worked hard and long for… If only already out of respect for the ones who made it 😉 and combine this tasting with some good local salami, ham and/or cheese and you’ve got an Italian feast (my opinion, I don’t need much to be happy)
I always say my beautiful fiancée has an expensive taste, but I have to plead guilty as well as for some reason I always seem to like the most expensive wines during a tasting 🙂 🙂 (without knowing the price upfront) … FYI it is not that I didn’t/ don’t like the other wines, but the taste wants what the taste wants 😉 From the Castello d’albola gamma my preferred wines were the Acciaiolo, Il Solatio and Le Ellere as they were of a stronger character and had a fuller body with I think the strongest the Il Solatio which is 100% sangiovese aka “Sangiovese in purezza” (which in English would mean pure Sangiovese). I already feel that my home wine assortment increasing.
The absolute star of the tasting of the wines of the Castello d’albola vineyard was I think their Vin Santo which was one of the best I’ve ever tasted (and I just can’t get enough of the cantucci cookies you dip in that wine). It was sweet, but not too sweet or sticky in the mouth.
We now set sail to the Abbazia Monte Oliveto wine estate of which you will read more in my next blogpost. After that I’ll stop talking about wine and tell more about other things to do in Tuscany 🙂 (although that mostly also involves eating and drinking 😉