It has been said the great wines of Tuscany are like fine art. They capture time, place and the passion of the artists that create them. Tuscany’s Frescobaldi family faithfully express the terroir and traditions of Tuscany in their products; an honour they have been performing for the past 700 years.
Even though the Frescobaldi family has been making wine for seven centuries, their roots run even deeper in Tuscany. Their family tree dates back more than a thousand years, and since the beginning, the family has held influential positions in Florence and surrounding areas. They came to prominence as bankers, even holding the title of treasures of the English crown during the height of medieval Florence. As medieval times transitioned into the Renaissance, the family became major contributors to the arts including funding the construction of the Basilica of Santo Spirito and the Ponte Trinita Bridge, spanning the river Arno.
Their wine story began at Tenuta Castiglioni, southwest of Florence, where rolling vineyards with a diversity of soil types and a mild climate influenced by incoming breezes provide a nurturing environment for the production of smooth, fruity and elegant red wines, as evidenced by their Castiglioni Chianti DOCG.
Over the many centuries that followed, the Frescobaldi family extended their presence throughout Tuscany, allowing them to showcase the individual terroir of many of Tuscany’s finest wine regions. The winery now counts six estates, including the original Tenuta Castiglioni. Many of the estates are concentrated in the Florence area, where Tenuta Remole provides an opportunity to produce modern fruit styles and the beautiful Castello Nipozzano, perched high in the hills above Florence, with the ability to craft supremely elegant well-structured red wines from Chianti Rufina appellation. Also in northern Tuscany is the high-altitude Castello Pomino. In this unique location the winery fashions impressively fragrant and lively wines made from classic French grapes including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir (known locally as Pinot Nero) and Pinot Blanc (Pinot Bianco). Joining the northern Tuscan estates are Tenuta Ammiraglia (on the Tuscan coast) and the impressive CastelGiocondo located outside of Montalcino.
I visited CastelGiocondo on a recent trip to Tuscany. The vineyards and winery are positioned to the southwest of the town. Here, vineyards benefit from a moderate elevation (approximately 300 to 400 metres), southern exposures, well-draining soils and the cooling effects of breezes travelling from the distant sea. It all provides the right conditions to produce wines that are rich in fruit character and enough structure and finesse to age gracefully for years. The estate itself is impressive in its sheer size, occupying a large swath of land housing the castle, which boasts sweeping views of the countryside below and the village of CastelGiocondo.
A number of wines are produced at the estate including Super Tuscan blends, but as with any Montalcino winery, it is judged by the quality of their Brunello, which is top class. A vertical of CastelGiocondo, Brunello are available at The Port by the NSLC, on the corner of Clyde and Birmingham in Halifax, including a remarkably well-priced 375ML offering of the 2012 vintage (Wine Spectator — 92 Points), the welcoming 2011 vintage (Wine Enthusiast — 92 Points) and even a five-litre offering of the much lauded 2010 vintage (James Suckling — 97 Points, Wine Advocate — 94 Points).
The most popular, and recognizable, wines in the Nova Scotia market emanate from their Nipozzano Estate. The estate itself embodies the rich traditions of Tuscany, with its beautiful castle, home to an impressive cellar that houses the family’s private collection. The estate sits high in the hills, allowing its vines to be constantly refreshed by cooling breezes.
The entry level (but reserve quality) Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva has long been a favourite amongst local wine aficionado and the recently introduced Nipozzano Vecchie Viti Chianti Rufina Riserva (available at select NSLC locations) a welcome addition to the family. Vecchie Viti is made from grapes sourced from the estate’s oldest vines and aged for 24-month in large oak botti, as per the Tuscan tradition.
It all amounts to a wine with a remarkable depth of concentration, combined with the signature vibrancy and acid backbone that exemplifies great Chianti Rufina wines. Building on the demand for the wines in the market, the Frescobaldi family and NSLC are introducing two new wines from the estate at the Festival of Wines this year. Their Castello di Nipozzano Montesodi Toscana IGT, is made exclusively from Sangiovese from select vines and only produced in the very best vintages. The 2012 vintage on showcase this year won the Festival of Wines award for ‘Top Sangiovese.’
Joining the Montesodi will be their 2012 Castello di Nipozzano Mormoreto Toscana IGT, a Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine seasoned with smattering of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and a dash of Petit Verdot. Both wines received scores of 93 Points from critic James Suckling.
Castello di Nipozzano Montesodi, Castello di Nipozzano Mormoreto and the Vecchi Viti will all be showcased at this year’s Festival of Wines (formerly Port of Wines Festival) and, along with 3 other wines, at the Festival of Wines Old World Wine Dinner on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 (6PM-9PM) at Halifax’s The Bicycle Thief (sold out). Information about the Festival of Wines can be found at mynslc.com.
We feature McGuigan Wines, a name synonymous with quality Australian wine production.
- Frescobaldi Remole Toscana IGT, Italy $15.99
- Frescobaldi Castiglioni Chianti DOCG,Italy $17.99
- Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG, Italy $27.00