Born from the union of four estates, Castellare di Castellina covers a total of 80 hectares - including 12 occupied by olive groves. The vineyards occupy 33 hectares on the hillsides of a natural southeast-facing amphitheater, at an average height of 370 meters above sea level. The vines are aged between 7 and over 45 years and yields per hectare are kept very low, according to Chianti Classico denomination rules in order to obtain top quality. Excellent exposure to the sun, good water drainage and a mixed soil containing limestone marl, galestro and little clay produce well-structured, intense wines, both red and white, suitable for long ageing in the bottle.
At Castellare, tradition is honored by producing the Chianti Classico wine using only indigenous Tuscan grape varieties while another selection, the Governo di Castellare, is made according to the ancient Tuscan governo method. Innovation was pursued, first of all, with the creation of the first experimental vineyard in the Chianti region together with the University of Milan and the University of Florence, implementing the first scientific selection of Sangiovese clones (here called Sangioveto). The best clones of Sangioveto and Malvasia Nera gave birth to Castellare’s flagship wine I Sodi di S. Niccolò, included several times over in the Top 100 list of Wine Spectator (ranked 6th with the 1985 vintage), and in 2018 acknowledged “Best Italian
Red Wine” upon accumulation of scores collected by the most important Italian wine guides – Gambero Rosso, Bibenda, Veronelli, Daniele Cernilli, Luca Maroni and Vitae – combined with the ratings of the most influential international magazines: Robert Parker, James Suckling, Antonio Galloni and Wine Spectator. A respect for the environment, the flora and fauna of the Chianti Classico area, has been one of the pillars of Castellare’s production since the very beginning. Therefore, no synthetic chemicals are used in the vineyards to enable the production of organic wines. This philosophy is reflected by the labels, which every year boast a drawing of a different bird found to be increasingly rare due to the indiscriminate use of pesticides and herbicides. Since 1979 the iconic birds depicted on Castellare’s bottles have changed every year (except for 1985 and 1995 vintages that share, for the first time, the same bird to mark that wines were very similar) to pay homage to the several endangered species in the region.
Castellare di Castellina is famous worldwide thanks to its Grand Crus: I Sodi di S. Niccolò, Castellare’s flagship wine; Coniale, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon fermented in barrique and Poggio ai Merli, considered
one of the best Tuscan Merlots. The wide range of Castellare wines also includes some excellent whites: Le Ginestre, a blend of Chardonnay
and Sauvignon Blanc; Canonico, Chardonnay in purity fermented in barrique; and Spartito, a Sauvignon Blanc fermented in barrique. Castellare also produces Vin Santo S. Niccolò, a Grappa, an Aceto (vinegar) and L’Olionovo, an extra virgin olive oil that is lively and pleasant on the palate.
Castellare di Castellina
by Alessandro Cellai
Alessandro Cellai is not only the head winemaker of the four DCC estates, but also the overall head of the company as managing director and general manager. Alessandro studied oenology at the Istituto Tecnico of Siena and chemistry at the University of Florence. He is also a doctor in agrarian studies honoris causa. When Paolo Panerai chose him for Castellare di Castellina he was 28 years old, with a great passion for viticulture and oenology passed down from his farming grandfather and his uncle Giuseppe, at that time parish priest at the Parrocchia della Piazza at Castellina in Chianti, which possessed an adjoining vineyard. He had gained experience at two Chianti estates and already acquired a great love of Pinot Noir, which he now grows not only on the DCC estates but also on his 1.5 hectare vineyard one kilometre from Castellare. Alessandro immediately agreed with the decision taken by the owners of the new Castellare winery – inaugurated just a year after his arrival – to follow tradition and a philosophy of not making wine with mixed blends of indigenous and international grape varieties. This is why the Castellare Chianti Classico is one of the very few wines not to take advantage of the new regulation that permits the mixing of Sangioveto with 20% French vines. Despite this, what emerges is a very drinkable soft Chianti. The decision to preserve the purity of the traditional wines has not prevented him from successfully producing four great wines using international varieties, including a single varietal merlot (Poggio ai Merli), cabernet sauvignon (Coniale), chardonnay (Canonico) and sauvignon blanc (Spartito). Nor has it prevented him from being chosen as heir by the great Giacomo Tachis, who has always preferred to soften and complete Sangioveto using French vines. By appointing him as his successor Tachis enabled him to benefit from his own experience, acquired through 50 years of harvests that led to the Renaissance of Italian oenology. Alessandro, who before the age of 40 was named best young winemaker for four years in a row in Canada and other countries, personally oversees exports to the major overseas markets, from the US to Russia, where he regularly travels every year.