One of the oldest Tuscan sayings but still in use today is ‘senza
lilleri non si lallera’, meaning without money nothing gets
done. A simple piece of popular wisdom, true nevertheless, but
even more so for a group of peasant farmers whose business is
characterised in sharecropping and for whom, at the beginning
of the last century, bartering was the principal form of commercial
However, one of the characteristics of the Tuscan farmer has always
been an ability to find ingenious solutions to complex problems.
The method known as to governare wine was born out of the scarcity
of lilleri (money).
‘In the days of the sharecroppers when they needed to have
the wine ready for sale in the spring, in order to earn a little
money to buy shoes or a new coat after a hard winter, Chianti
was made by adding ‘appassita’ grapes after the first
fermentation’. Thus explains Nanni Gori, ex-shareholder
of one of the original farms at the Castellare di Castellina estate
and the winery’s first cellar master, describing how the
idea for Governo came about. Appassita grapes are those left longer
on the vine, harvested at full maturity and then dried. ‘Governing’
wine means adding ‘appassita’ grapes (grapes with
a higher sugar content) immediately after the draining off of
the must in preparation for the second (malolactic) fermentation.
This immediate re-fermentation rendered the Chianti refreshing,
ripe and with a full bouquet by springtime.
This ‘governed’ wine, presented in the typical Tuscan
flask and at one time hand-covered with raffia, became a symbol
of how simple ingenuity
can produce exceptional results and in the case of Governo arrived
at by completely natural methods: grape on grape without any chemical
intervention as opposed to the methods used in novelli or nouvelle
All this, along with the flask bottle, slowly disappeared, as
the more important objective became to develop Chianti Classico
as a wine for long ageing.
Castellare di Castellina, encouraged by the tradition embodied
in Nanni Gori and the memory of the wine’s history, revives
today this historic and worthy skill, rediscovering almost forgotten
flavours and bringing to life again for the 2009 harvest, Governo
Beginning with a limited quantity, the production grew to accommodate
the appreciation for this wonderfully fresh wine, perfect for
summer and even straight from the refrigerator, thanks to a vivacious
smoothness which makes it extremely pleasant even with fish.
The label bears the image of a flower that is the symbol of Florence
and its surrounding territories, including Chianti: the iris,
which in this region is called the giaggiolo. The first tasting
one hundred years ago identified the flowers’ perfume amongst
those present in Governo. For this reason some of the more daring
producers supplement the intensity of the fragrance by adding
the giaggiolo roots to the barrel.
Wine-making is continually evolving and modern advances in production
have allowed enormous improvements in quality. However, modernisation
cannot and should not cancel out the brilliant traditions that
for centuries have given us the opportunity to enjoy an extraordinarily
pleasant wine. For this reason Castellare di Castellina has decided
to increase the production of Governo di Castellare, utilizing
this unique method, to offer a greater number of consumers the
chance to try this historic wine in a modern era, enjoying its
characteristic freshness and lightness - a red wine suitable for
fish that can be served cold from the refrigerator in Summer.
Every year, at the blossoming of Spring on the 21st March, Governo
di Castellare appears in the best restaurants and enoteca, bringing
to the consumer the privilege of experiencing this unique wine,
the memory of which is very much alive in the mind of the most
discerning wine experts, such as Michael Broadbent, head of the
Department of Oenology at Christies, who has dedicated a beautiful
chapter in his most famous book to Governo.