Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rocca di Castagnoli Wines

[The gang with Max at Rocca di Castagnoli]

Vino Girl is back from Italy (heavy sigh) and ready to report on some of the wonderful wineries I was able to visit in the exquisitely beautiful region of Tuscany. One of my favorites – and, I might add, the official “everyday drinking wine” of our villa — was Rocca di Castagnoli.

My friends discovered the winery during their initial windy, undulating drive to Villa L’Aiaccia just outside of Gaiole in Chianti. They stopped in to stock up for our first night in the villa (it’s good to have friends with foresight) and, after tasting both the reds and the whites, we became regular customers of the winery.

Rocca di Castagnoli is situated right in the center of the Chianti Classico region, atop a hill overlooking some of their vineyards. The winery building exhibits a great balance between traditional and modern touches. The winemaking and philosophy are very traditional but the tasting room and facilities are sleek and modern, providing a striking juxtaposition with the breathtaking landscape just outside the windows.

The Rocca di Castagnoli wines are all well-priced and high quality. We tasted nothing above 30 or 40 euros, which translates to roughly 40 to 55 dollars. The wines we drank everyday were about 7 euros, or under 10 dollars, and were very refined for the price. Rocca di Castagnoli is also associated with other labels, including Castello San Sano, Tenuta di Capraia, Poggio Maestrino Spiaggiole and Poggio Graffetta, through the sales firm Alimenta. Although we did not taste all of the labels, I would seek them out given the quality and care put into the Castagnoli wines.

On our final day at Villa L’Aiaccia we decided to hike up the hill and take a tour of our “local” winery. We were shown around the winery by our knowledgeable and exceedingly congenial host, Max. We concluded the tour with a tasting and more than a few laughs — a fitting ending to our stay in Gaiole. A generous taste of four wines later, we were carefully plodding our way back down the hill to enjoy our last dinner with our favorite $8 Chianti Classico (review below)

2004 Rocca di Castagnoli Chianti Classico

The hands-down best “everyday drinking” Chianti Classico tasted on a recent trip to Tuscany. Well balanced with clean red and blue berry fruits and a pleasant earthiness. The tannins are silky and the refreshing acidity makes you want to go back for another sip. A refined wine with good depth and impressive finesse for the price. Great with food — pairs especially well with various Tuscan specialties including roast pork, mushroom risotto and cured meats. A

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