Now this is a wine with a story – I heard about this wine from a good friend of mine who was fortunate enough to have a couple of cases gifted to him as a 40th birthday present.
It took six months for the cases to arrive in the UK and for the two-and-a-half years since there has not been an occasion fitting, which I’ve been present at, to crack open a bottle.
There were a couple of near misses; a birthday meal (which was later cancelled) and a wedding (which wasn’t cancelled but was too hectic to find to time picnic in the park with this beauty).
Anyway, the stars finally aligned on my husband’s birthday lunch early this month in Brighton and after a little negotiating with the restaurant re corkage the wine was finally opened in my presence.
And what a wine…it is made by Castell’in Villa – one of the oldest estates the Chianti Classico DOC.
This medieval hamlet is located in Castelnuovo Berardenga, in the far south of the Chianti Classico region.
I was told the winery was owned by a highly respected wine maker, who shuns the limelight and won’t sell her wine to you unless she likes you. And why not, I say!
My friend had visited the winery on very good recommendation and was left speechless by the wine he tasted. The wines of Castell’in Villa are renowned for being from low yielding estate vines and the wines follow the admirable Italian philosophy of being released only when ready to drink (to prevent any bottle being opened prematurely) rather than as soon as can be sold. This winery often releases bottles a year or two after other estates.
But there is more to this story – the reclusive winemaker in question is a Princess, Princess Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa.
Princess Coralia inherited the winery from her husband Riccardo, who tragically died in 1985, and she worked fiercely to renovate the estate after his death. Coralia now does everything on the 300 hectare estate, the only part of the job she doesn’t like is selling the wine. The more I learn about her the more I would really love to meet her.
She sounds like a phenomenal woman, but as I’ve not met the lady, I will leave the rest of the story to someone who has, Jamie Goode – click here to read about his dinner and tasting with
So back to the wine. After being expertly decanted by the manager at Table I’d finally got a glass of this wine to my lips and it was well worth the wait!
Castell’in Villa Chianti Classico Riserva 1985
Made from Sangiovese and clearly aged for some time, this wine is an attractive garnet colour. There is a dark cherry fruit character and refreshing acidity to the wine, which is given complexity from the elegant dried fruit, sweet spice and earthy notes. It is one of those wines I would happily smell all night.
Verdict: Outstanding; drink now, will keep
I have a real feeling of déjà vu as I embark on a 14-day quarantine in the Caribbean. At least this time