Living the reality of Castello di Meleto is like breathing more than a thousand years of history inside the four walls of its castle on a hilltop of Gaiole di Chianti, in the road between Siena and Florence in Tuscany which overlooks the Chianti valley. What was once the Abbey of Coltibuono belonging to the Benedictine monks in the 11th century, has traversed a rich and long history of changing ownership and identities between noble families and military troops as it withstood harsh elements and time. In 1968, Viticola Toscana (Tuscan Viticulture), a society created by Gianni Mazzocchi that has the aim of enhancing the wine-growing potential of the territory, purchased the castle along with 1,400 hectares of its surrounding land through an initiative called Operation Vineyards, the process of which is very similar to what we call in present times, crowdfunding.
Still faithful to its commitment, Viticola Toscana with its founding 1,600 shareholders, is still the owner of the entire area and it maintains the castle and the medieval hamlet which includes the medieval Santa Maria in Spaltenna convent and the adjoining church. In the restored area, there is a prestigious winery and an accommodation facility composed of charming Tuscan-style rooms and apartments, swimming pools, a 18th-century mini theater, a wine shop with a kitchen and large green areas surrounded by thousands of hectares of woods, olive groves and vineyards from which the excellence of Tuscany are produced. There are almost a thousand hectares of land, 160 of which are dedicated solely to vines for producing their terroir-oriented wines produced from local grapes. In other parts of the property, there are around 1,600 organically grown olive trees of Frantoio, Moraiolo, Leccino and Pendolino cultivars that produce extra virgin olive oil which express the characteristics of the land with its deep green color with fruity flavors and pleasant almond aftertaste. A part of the property is also dedicated to the breeding of Cinta Senese pigs, a Tuscan breed that is well-known for its excellent meat quality that freely feed themselves with acorns and hazelnuts found from trees in the woods.
However broad the concept of Castello di Meleto is, wine is its most representative product, thus, also its symbol and the people behind it have the goal of making it the protagonist by taking out its best expression of the territory. The land has an average altitude of 350 to 450 meters above sea level, with 600 meters as its maximum with the Massellone stream crossing the property. The general composition of the soil is clay, sand and silt plus a little percentage of skeleton which is made primarily of marl and limestone which are commonly found in the terrain of Chianti. With the collaboration of agronomist Ruggero Mazzilli, the winery has reached pivotal goals such as its organic certification of wines in 2021 and the introduction of viticulture practices that are in harmony with the environment. The fertilization is done with the use of compost which originates from the decomposed plant material from the same plot, which according to agronomist Maurizio Degli Innocenti, expresses the maximum tipicity of the territory and the grape variety.
The vineyards are divided into 5 distinct macro-zones according to the soil composition, climate, slope inclination, elevation and sun exposure which have unique characteristics identified for the production the grapes. Meleto, San Piero in Avenano, Vigna Casi, Poggiarso and Moci are the macro-zones where varieties such as Trebbiano, Canaiolo Nero, Vermentino, Malvasia Nera, Merlot and Pinot Nero are cultivated but with more concentration to Sangiovese. In the recent years, Castello di Meleto, along with the University of Florence, ventured into a project of identifying the best clones and bio-types of Sangiovese that are capable of adapting to the conditions of the five macro areas which came about from a two-year study. The manually-harvested grapes are vinified in the winery’s newly-renovated forty year old cellar where the oenologists Matteo Menicacci and Alberto Stella work with the guidance of Valentino Ciarla. In the general production of wines, the vinifications are separated by parcels pertaining to the different vineyards and macro-areas. Fermentations are done in stainless steel, concrete tanks and open tonneaux with experimentations on long fermentation with stalks.
In a recent digital wine tasting of three labels of Castello di Meleto organized by Gheusis with Oenologist Valentino Ciarla, Michele Contartese, General Director of Castello di Meleto, and Emanuela Stefanelli, Castello di Meleto’s Director of Organization and Development of Touristic Activities, attention was given to the new production of two crus of Castello di Meleto Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione from the vintage 2017: Casi and Poggiarso. The third bottle is Camboi IGT Toscana Rosso 2018 made with 100% Malvasia Nera of Chianti. The tasting was aimed at determining the differences of the two crus of Chianti Classico produced in the same year in corresponding climatic and production conditions.
Casi Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione 2017
Casi is located in the valley below the medieval village of Vertine which is surrounded by woods helping make the climate mild. The Sangiovese grapes find the conditions of warm soil and cool climate ideal that even in the driest periods persist. The maceration is 20 days, fermented with indigenous yeasts while the aging takes place in three separate containers: 27 months in 30 hL Slavonian oak casks, 50 hL French oak casks and a small part in tonneaux. The oenologists derive their choice of wood from the quality of the grapes grown in the small plots in the Casi macro-zone. This is an elegant wine with a vibrant ruby red color with an intense nose that slowly opens up to complex aromas of violets, ripe plums, black cherries, berries, spices, dried tobacco leaves and musky notes. In the mouth, the acidity is prominent, with medium sapidity, soft and compact tannins with a long finish.
Poggiarso Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione 2017
Poggiarso instead is the driest and coldest area of the estate where the slopes are high at an altitude of 530 m.a.s.l. The climatic conditions determine a poor growth production but ensures a high quality of grapes due to the strong temperature variations between day and night, especially in the summer season. The soil is clayey with large quantities of scheletro or very fine gravel composed of albarese and galestro (clay shales). The maceration is 20 days while the aging is in 50 hL French oak casks for 27 months. A wine of elegance with bright ruby red color and an intense nose of violets, dried potpourri, ripe dark stone fruits, blueberries and green almonds. The aromas play more in this cru. In the mouth is has a denser structure with distinctive acidity, that opens to notable savory flavor, prominent tannins and long finish.
Camboi IGT Toscano Rosso 2018
The 30 year old vines of Malvasia Nera cultivated for the production of Camboi are located in a one hectare vineyard in the macro-zone is San Piero in Avenano with soil rich in very fine gravel. It is an open and much-ventilated area, a very good aspect in preserving the freshness and keeping the grapes in healthy state. During the maceration period, non-invasive vinification operations are carried out for 20 days. Indigenous yeasts are used for the spontaneous fermentation to attain greater typicality of the wines. After the racking, the wine is transferred to barriques of third and fourth usage. Malvasia Nera is not a common single-varietal wine because it was usually used as a part of a blend in Chianti wines. However, from the first vintage of Camboi in 2014, the wine has been gaining popularity among wine enthusiasts especially abroad for its easiness in drinkability. This wine shows a very good evolution. Ruby red in color with purple hues in the the edges, it gives the distinct aromatic characteristic of Malvasia with spices, ripe red berries, and red stone fruits, floral tones and hints of eucalyptus and musk. In the mouth it has good acidity, velvety tannins and medium persistence.
Località Castello di Meleto
53013 Gaiole in Chianti (SI), Italy
Tel: +39 0577749217