We were on our way to Querceto di Castellina between the towns of Castellina and Radda in Chianti. The Italian countryside was breathtaking! Window down, arm out, I lapped up the cool scent of moss as we descended into the valley on this warm Tuscan summer day. The lush surroundings were awash with butterflies and bugs of all sorts while Cypress trees dotted the landscape and lined driveways.
Turning off the main country road onto a more remote gravel road, the heat intensified as we twisted and turned through the wild estate, reaching the parking area with a perfect Tuscan view in front of me.
I was in heaven! I dream of this kind of life. A rustic, country home with worn stonework and terracotta roof tiles surrounded by vineyards while natures’ music plays. It was just perfection.
Making our way to the farm the rooster was a popular feature and after some research, I found out that the rooster belongs to the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium, founded in 1924 to promote Chianti wine and to protect against and prevent wine fraud, ensuring that the high quality of Chianti wine is maintained. Querceto di Castellina belongs to the Chianti Classico region.
Wandering our way up the stairs, lined with buzzing lavender bushes and wild olive trees, we stepped onto the patio where we were greeted warmly by Mary. Originally from the USA, she met and married her husband, Jacopo, who founded the winery on the family farm. While he is focused on producing wines of reputation she is responsible for the wine farms Marketing and Hospitality.
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One of the highlights of my #italy trip is visiting the wine lands of #tuscany . Today we visited @quercetodicastellina and tasted some magnificent 100% #sangiovese and 100% #merlot If you visit Tuscany make sure to book a lunch in the vineyard and even stay over. It’s spectacular!! #vino #vinoitaliano #toscana #vinotoscano #italianwine #italianwinelover #tuscanylifestyle #traveltuscany #tuscantravels #instatuscany
At the heart of Chianti lies the Sangiovese grape, an historical, thin-skinned, red grape with a medium-light body that, depending on age, announces notes of spice, dried flowers, vanilla and cocoa to name a few.
On the palate this stalwart can deliver juicy blueberry and cherry, pepper, cured meat, balsamic vinegar and light tobacco with delicate tannins.
Mary led us to the covered patio where we sat back to relax and take in the surreal surroundings. Here we sipped on a perfectly chilled glass of Furtivo Rosato, a light pink rose made from 100% Sangiovese that had been aged for 4 months in stainless steel tanks. It was just the thing to counter the heat.
From the patio this is the view (above) of the Belvedere Vineyard of Merlot and Sangiovese, stretching up over the hill surrounded by rows of olive groves.
Soaking in the surrounding beauty we were nothing short of spoilt. Our lunch started with a wine tasting and home made lasagne that etched an unforgettable memory of this wine farm.
The 2015 Podalirio IGT Toscana, named after the species of butterflies, is a ‘Super Tuscan‘ merlot. Aged in 225L French Oak for 18 months and an additional 12 months in bottle before release, this beautiful butterfly has black and blueberries, dried flowers and pepper spice on the nose with a full, long soft tannin finish. Delectable!
Following the delicious cheesy lasagne starter (the most memorable lasange ever!) we were presented with wooden boards, one laden with salami, ham, cheese and olives while the second was loaded with a variety of bruschetta accompanied with a 2017 Livia. This tantalising equal part blend of the French varietals Roussanne and Viognier, it is the only white wine to be produced on the farm. Aged for 8 months in French Oak and 2 months in the bottle this white is graceful. Notes of elderberry, apple and pineapple fill the nose while the mouth is full with a long finish and a well balanced acidity.
Often the kids are bored on these types of excursions, but they were constantly entertained by the then, very tiny Boston Terrier puppy, Elliot, who kept them entertained so us adults could relax!
Following a luxurious lunch we sampled the Venti 2015. This wine was crafted in honour of the 20th anniversary of the winery. A beautiful blend of equal parts Merlot and Sangiovese this is a bold, full bodied red. The Sangiovese is aged for 20 months in 500L French Oak while the Merlot is also aged for 20 months in 225L French Oak.
The nose is fragrant, exhibiting dried flowers, vanilla and spicy pepper. Black and blueberries move around the mouth complimented by a soft tannin and enduring notes of wild berry. Full-bodied, this red is perfect for cellaring.
Available exclusively from the winery, only 1400 bottles are produced every year. Luckily for you they have an online ordering facility!
The Venti is not cheap, but a good quality, limited release wine is going to come at a premium. That being said, the other wines in their range are affordable yet quality has not been compromised.
With my senses immersed in the surroundings, Mary took us for a cellar tour. The heat of the day was broken by the cool of the cellar as we stepped through the doorway.
Strolling through a cellar, I never get tired of rubbing my hands on the barrels to take in the rough oak perfume.
Pausing to converse about the farm, Mary explained that the estate has been in the family since 1945, initially intended as a countryside retreat, Guido Masini could not help but dabble in pig farming and grape growing ventures on the estate.
In 1989 the estate, managed by his daughter Laura, saw the restoration of the 15th century structures, transforming them into an agriturismo with holiday accommodation, and converting the remaining property into a working farm which included olive groves and a particular focus on the improvement of the vineyards.
It would be almost a decade later before Jacopo, the eldest son, would establish the winery and bottle the very first vintage under the Querceto di Castellina label.
Looking rather smiley, with a full belly of delicious food swimming in even more stunning wine, I managed to get a picture with Jacopo and Mary.
Our afternoon at Querceto di Castellina has found a place in my memory that shall never fade and we all thoroughly enjoyed this visit, surely one of the highlights of our 3 week trip around Italy.