Castell’in Villa – Chianti, Tuscany
This beautiful estate based in the hilly Castelnuovo Berardenga subzone in the south of Chianti is one of the most famous, traditional and classic producers in Italy, making elegant, complex and ageworthy Chiantis from 100% Sangiovese.
The estate is owned by Princess Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa, an absolute perfectionist who looks after every aspect of wine production herself, from vineyards to winemaking to selling!
The style of wine produced here is to Chianti what Vina Lopez de Heredia is to Rioja; totally true to Chianti’s roots, made very traditionally, with long ageing in large old oak casks, released for sale only when deemed to be ready for drinking, and with long (20-40 year) ageing potential! In fact there are very few wines in all Italy with such potential to improve in bottle over time.
The “basic” Chianti Classico is unlike any other Chianti Classico on the market. Aged for 24 months in used Slavonian oak casks, then a further year in bottle before release, it is classic, serious in structure, and delicious! It needs a little time in the glass to open up, then shows all the best characteristics of the Sangiovese grape – sweet red cherry, cigar box and spice, dried flowers and a certain earthiness.
The Chianti Classico Riserva has even longer ageing potential. Sourced only from the best vineyard plots each vintage, then aged for 24-36 months in used Slavonian oak casks, only around 1250 cases are produced each year. This wine has elegance and power combined, and over time in the glass you discover more and more flavours and aromas with each sip. Truly complex, truly impressive, and – from a top vintage – truly one of the finest 100% Sangiovese wines you will find!
In 2020, Walter Speller, the Italian wine specialist who works with Jancis Robinson MW on her website, published his personal ranking of Chianti producers in a similar style to the classifications you find of the wines of Bordeaux. He rated Castell’in Villa one of his top 3 Chianti producers – the equivalent of the Premier Grand Cru Classé “A” wines of St Emilion (Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Figeac and Pavie).