Castello del Trebbio Chianti Superiore DOCG 2016, Italy
O ne thing most wine making families around the world have in common is their deep love of the land. Sustainable, organic, biodynamic and BioIntegrale are all methods employed to keep the land healthy and productive for generations.
At Castello del Trebbio the owners talk about integrating Tuscan traditions with modern knowledge and equipment to create high quality wines. Often that love of the land creates bonds between families that bridge oceans.
While traveling through Italy, Fred and Nancy Cline of Sonoma’s Cline Family Cellars met Castello del Trebbio owners Anna and Stefano Casadei, and the two families immediately bonded over a shared love of family, the land, and wine. As a result of that meeting we American drinkers can now enjoy the fine wines produced there. Recently the two families began importing the wines to the U.S. market for the first time.
I, for one, am happy they met.
This gorgeous DOCG Chianti is full of lively fruit and is a smooth-drinking wine. At $14-16 it is a bargain for such a rich wine. The wine is predominantly sangiovese (85 percent) with the rest split between local grapes canaiolo and ciliegiolo.
It is a deep ruby red in the glass with aromas of berries, flowers and spice. On the palate there is a smooth balance of fruit and acid with a warm, pleasant mouthfeel. Medium-bodied with a lingering aftertaste, it tastes like a mouthful of mixed berries.
After fermentation the wine spends six months in Slavonian oak barrels followed by three months in stainless steel tanks.
Though based in an 830-year-old castle, the winery uses all the best modern techniques. The vineyards are farmed organically and follow BioIntegrale practices.
This is a great wine to drink all summer long, while grilling outside, with light or heavy meals, or just sipping on the porch after dinner.
Winery: The Tuscan countryside is dotted with ancient stone castles, dating back to the years when city states fought each other before Italy was unified as a single country. Some of the villages are walled cities set on top of hills. Some castles were homes to local royalty.
The Castello del Trebbio is one of the better-preserved examples. Built in 1184 by the Florentine Pazzi banking family, it was where the family plotted the failed “Pazzi Conspiracy,” that nearly overthrew the ruling Medicis in 1478.
The Pazzis, with help from Pope Sixtus IV and the enlightened Federico da Montefeltro, then Duke of Urbino, plotted in the castle halls to assassinate their rivals, Florence’s ruling Medici family. The attack took place on Easter Sunday in front of 10,000 at the Florence Cathedral. Giuliano Medici was murdered, but his brother Lorenzo escaped. Following the failed conspiracy, the castle was confiscated by the Republic of Florence.
Today, the Castello del Trebbio is carefully managed by the Baj Macario family who have owned the estate since 1968. The family still lives in the castle and for them this terroir has become their “chosen land.”
Count Macario purchased the castle and moved his family there so his five children could grow up connected to nature and agriculture. He introduced his daughter, Anna, to Stefano Casadei, one of Italy’s leading viticulturists, who he had hired to manage the vineyards. Stefano and Anna quickly fell in love.
Anna has served as the owner and director of the castle for more than 20 years. Stefano is the viticulturist and winemaker. Their daughters Elena and Laura are also now involved in winemaking, and their son Lorenzo works at Pazzesco, the castle’s restaurant. The family also owns and manages two additional wine estates, one in Maremma (Tenuta Casadei) and one in Sardinia (Agricola Olianas).
The owners brought new life to the estate in the early days of their ownership, restoring the main building and several farmhouses. New vineyards have been added to the existing ones, and important far-sighted business decisions with regards to the wine production, have been made, allowing a revival of top quality wine production.
The estate includes an active natural farm that includes grapes, olives, fruit orchards, seasonal gardens, and numerous farmhouses and villas open to tourists. It produces saffron and Spelt (an ancient grain). Five apartments and two villas are available for rent. All offer views of the castle.
Visitors have many activities from which to choose, including cooking classes, the olive harvest in November or dining at the restaurant. Tours and tastings get consistently high ratings on Trip Advisor.
The 865-acre estate has 150 acres planted to vineyards, primarily sangiovese, with additional plantings of canaiolo, malvasia, ciliegiola, trebbiano, syrah, merlot, riesling, chardonnay and pinot grigio.
Along with traditional Sangiovese based wines, and Chianti Rufina Riserva “Lastricato,” the winery produces another line of wines sold under the “Vigneti Trebbio” label. These modern concept wines are created from grape varietals new to the area.
They also offer three blends that connect to the castle’s rich history. Pazzesco, is a blend of merlot and syrah. Congiura is a white wine made from riesling and pinot grigio. De’ Pazzi is a blend of sangiovese, merlot and syrah, which achieves unique characteristics during its refinement in amphorae (large terra cotta vessels).
There also is the dessert wine Vin Santo, an ancient tradition and DOC from Chianti, and a sparkling wine produced in the classic method, a brut produced from chardonnay and trebbiano.
Goes with: We had this elegant wine with grilled boneless pork chops, which was a perfect match. The rich pork, enhanced by flavors from a mix of herbs and Morton Nature’s Seasons was a terrific balance to the rich, fruity wine.
I took a chance and added dumplings and sauerkraut to my plate. That’s a traditional Czech side dish that I grew up with. Most people will tell you the best thing to drink with sauerkraut is beer, and that might be true. But this wine did not suffer from the sourness of the sauerkraut. And the dumplings seemed to pop in flavor after a sip of wine.
The Castello Del Trebbio is an outstanding food wine that will pair well with many dishes, including Tuscan crostini, Tuscan cold cuts, pasta with meat sauce and roasted meat. It also goes well with a variety of cheeses, including strong cheeses.
Serve it slightly chilled.
Castello del Trebbio Chianti Superiore DOCG 2016, Italy