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The wines of Barone Ricasoli/Castello di Brolio

Loc. Brolio, 53013 Gaiole in Chianti, Italy
Tel: +39 0577 7301
UK Agent: Enotria Winecellars

This is an estate with a strong historical legacy: Barone Ricasoli was largely responsible for creating the Chianti Classico demarcation in the 19th century, as well as serving as Prime Minister of Italy for a spell. The wine production on the 1200 ha property has been revitalized since 1993, when Francesco Ricasoli, the 32nd Barone, took the helm. With some 227 ha of vineyards (a large area by any standards), there is a range of terroirs represented by the different vineyards, and the majority of the vines are Sangiovese (150 ha). Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Canaiolo make up the rest of the red grapes, and small amounts of the white grapes Malvasia and Chardonnay are also grown. Grapes are bought in for some of the less expensive wines. Overall, I was pretty impressed by the quality of these wines. They are mainly classically styled (the super-Tuscan Caselferro is the exception here), and they are done very well: if you like Chianti Classico, you'll probably love these wines.

Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico 1997
The first vintage of this, the new flagship wine of the estate, made from Sangiovese and aged for 18 months in barrique. A concentrated red/purple colour, this delicious wine shows a herby, slightly medicinal nose with tar and leather notes. The palate is firm and tannic, with lots of structure and dense red berry fruit. There's a lovely savoury character and the finish is bone dry. Very good/excellent (18 Noel Young, 20 Chandos Deli)

Chianti Classico 1998
Mostly Sangiovese. There's a big herbiness to the nose, together with some sweet tea notes. The palate displays a herbal pungency, firmly tannic structure and a dry finish. Very good (8.50 Chandos Deli)

1141 Chianti Classico 1998
Attractive herby/spicy nose. Medium bodied, spicy dusty fruit on the palate. Good typicity. Good/very good (8 Chandos Deli)

Chianti Classico Riserva Rocca Guicciarda 1997
Quite a refined nose of herbs and spice leads to a dense palate with savoury herb and cherry fruit. There's a touch of tar and some firm tannins. A lovely savoury wine in a classical style. Very good+ (9.99 Bottoms Up)

Casalferro Sangiovese di Toscana 1998
This modern-styled, concentrated 'super-Tuscan' wine is a deep purple/black colour, and has a full, spicy nose showing menthol-laced new oak, smoke and tar. The dense palate has ripe fruit and firm tannins: this is clearly quite an ambitious, serious effort. Very good/excellent (17 Chandos Deli)

Formulae Sangiovese di Toscana 1999
30% aged in American oak, 70% in stainless steel. Shy nose leads to a fruity, slightly spicy palate with a touch of caramel. A bit forgettable. Good+

Tasted May 2001 at the Decanter Rising Stars Fine Wine Encounter

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