The only way we were able to afford this trip to Italy was because good friends of ours had for years invited us to come stay with them in Cisigliana for next to nothing. Part of their ‘selling’ the idea was telling me about their friends who own a wine farm, Castel del Piano, in the town of Licciana Nardi, a province of Massa and Cararra, about 15 minutes from where they live in the Tuscan country.
After Jon and Renee checked that it would be alright to pop in we made our way down to the farm. Parking in the driveway the castle came into view and I was excited to taste the wines and chat to Andrea and Sabine about how they came to own the impressive fortress!
Italians are a passionate, animated bunch. When something grabs them they ‘live’ it, ‘breathe’ it. Andrea is passionate. He and his partner Sabine, having had successful careers in the pharmaceutical industry in Milan, decided that life was just too busy and that city life was not conducive to living a healthy lifestyle.
Together they sold up in the city and after a lot of searching, decided to buy this 14th Century Castle. A number of years down the line and a lot of money and effort, Castel del Piano is now a beautifully restored medieval guesthouse with all the makings of comfortable country escape.
While the kids enjoyed the pool, Andrea took us on a walk through the grounds to the vineyards and then on to the wine cellar.
Suspended shade cloth with a decorative vine provided respite from the heat while wrought iron furniture graced the cobblestones. Flowering shrubs decorated the pockmarked walls that tell the stories of times past.
I immediately felt connected to the history of this timeless space…
While we talked it was clear that sweat and tears have been invested to identify the ideal grape varietals to grow in this terroir in order to produce the best wines.
For Andrea, experimentation is the journey, producing around 12 000 bottles of wine over 9 different products annually, he is resolute in his determination to experiment.
Andrea is a firm believer in not using any additives in the production of his wines, fermentation is natural. Nature has to be the creator, the winemaker merely the helping hand.
After a cellar tour we meandered our way inside the fortress and found ourselves sitting in their 16th century dining hall, Andrea opened a bottle of 2018 Luna Lies, a ‘Frizzante Rosato of Vermentino Nero’, loosely translating to a ‘fizzy rose´ of Vermentino Nero’. After a year on the lees and a little longer in the bottle, this is deliciously crispy and aromatic.
On to the 2014 Pian Piano (slowly, slowly) – an equal part blend of Durello, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay which delivered an aromatic nose of herbs and flowers and a well balanced acidity. These new-to-me varietals took some time to process and understand their nuances. I was in my element.
Pepe Nero 2018 is 100% Vermentino Nero. Often confused with Merlot, Vermentino Nero ripens later than Merlot and its wines typically display aromas of rich black fruit with coffee nuances which was very evident in this medium bodied Pepe Nero. This reminded me of Pinotage, but with less body.
I really enjoy Pinot Noir. It is a difficult varietal to cultivate and from which to produce a really beautiful wine, so I am always intrigued to try a new Pinot Noir as there is little room for error. Their Melampo 2018 is typical of a young Pinot Noir, with dominant notes of black currant, sour cherries and raspberries that follow through nicely with a soft silky tannin. I would have loved to have taken a few bottles home and let them age for another 5 years to see how they mature further.
I really enjoy learning about new varietals, and on this occasion came across Uva Merla. More commonly known as Canaiolo, this is a black-skinned Tuscan grape which traces its history back to Chianti, when it was used in the Chianti blend up until the 19th century.
The grapes ripen late and are picked in the early morning. This varietal produces a full bodied red wine that is earthy with notes of humus and spice. It’s delicious!
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Another highlight of our #italy trip was visiting Castel del Piano, which is one of the local wine farms to where we were based in Cisigliana. Owners, Andrea Ghigliazza and Sabina Ruffaldi, left their careers in the pharmaceutical industry in Milan years back, bought this property, turning it into a wine farm and have been producing some stunning award winning wines. Now before you think to do the same, it was their deep seated passion for wine that kept them pushing through the difficulties of establishing vineyards, deciding on which varietals are best suited to the terrior, eradicating pests, hand harvesting with a view to making a name for themselves in the market place and producing note worthy wines. I think that if I were fluent in Italian, I may have experienced more of Andreas passion for what he does. The communication gap meant that we were talking in fits and starts, but despite that, we were both on the same page when it came to tasking his wine. While walking through the vineyards one can tell that he is focused yet not scared to try new varietals. The farm is completely organic, and while many wine farms aim to reduce their carbon foot print, Andrea is dead set on achieving a zero carbon footprint! #sangiovese is dominant in many regions but I was pleasantly surprised to sample an excellent #pinotnior here at Castel del Piano, as well as some #canaiolo and #vermintinonero Castel del Piano is a stunning place to visit if you are in the area. You probably have to phone ahead to book a tasting, but it is worth it. www.casteldelpianolunigiana.it #红酒 #wine #winetime #winegram #winefarms #redwine #exploremore #instawine #vino #italy #vinoitaliano #terroirlife #worldwinewanderings
If you are in this area, which is a must for wine lovers, then do pay a visit to Castel del Piano. This place is breathtaking!
Check out some other amazing wine farms we visited on our Italian adventure: