There are two wines of the Domini Castellare di Castellina group in the top 10 of the best Italian reds. I Sodi di San Niccolò 2017 by Castellare di Castellina, historic Chianti Classico winery, and Baffonero 2018 by Rocca di Frassinello in the Tuscan Maremma are in fact at the top of the annual ranking released by the Italian magazine Gentleman which adds up the ratings of the main Italian wine guides and those of the four most authoritative international evaluators (Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate by Robert Parker, Vinous by Antonio Galloni and James I Sodi di San Niccolò 2017 won 6th place, with 665 total points, followed by Baffonero 2018, ranked 7th with 656.83 points.

La TOP 1o internazionale dei vini rossi italiani_Gentleman

2017 is a special year for I Sodi di San Niccolò because it marks the 40 harvests of the Castellare Supertuscan bottled for the first time in 1977. Since then, many important awards have followed: I Sodi di S. Niccolò was the first Italian wine to be included in Wine Spectator’s inaugural Top 100 list (1988) with the 1985 vintage, and again in 1989 with the 1986 vintage. In addition, it won the title of first Italian wine twice (in 2016 and in 2013), adding up the scores of Italian and foreign critics. The name I Sodi di S. Niccolò comes from an idea of Luigi Veronelli. He was descending from Castellare di Castellina cellar towards the most beautiful vineyard of the estate: the one that the old sharecroppers had named “Vigna de’ sodi” (“sodi” meaning “hard” in Italian) because of the soil rich in stones: the best for making wine. On the right appeared the Church of St. Niccolò, dating from the 1300s, surrounded by another vineyard, called after the saint, with the same hard soil. Luigi suddenly stopped and said: “Here is the name for the extraordinary wine I’ve just tasted: I Sodi di S. Niccolò, but with the article ‘I’ before, please. Because that, and only that, will be the amazing wine that will bear this name”. I Sodi di S. Niccolò was also the name of a horse that won many races, owned by Giacomo Bologna, the producer of Bricco dell’Uccellone wine, who usually baptized his horses with the names of the best wines.

Also the 2018 of Baffonero is a great vintage described by Antonio Galloni of Vinous, as follows: “Whereas so many 2018s lean towards the more gracious end of the spectrum, Baffonero packs quite a punch, albeit in the slightly more restrained style of the year. Inky, exotically ripe dark fruit, bittersweet chocolate, spice, new leather and lavender all build as this exuberant, Maremma red shows off its undeniable allure”. The top wines of the Tuscan wineries of the Domini Castellare di Castellina group are therefore confirmed as two oenological excellences, the result of the winning work of the oenologist and executive vice president Alessandro Cellai and his team, who have always been committed to sustainable viticulture aimed at obtaining the maximum quality both in the vineyard and in the cellar, in all the estates of the group which also includes two wineries in Sicily, Feudi del Pisciotto and Gurra di Mare.

I Sodi di S. Niccolò: Sangioveto (85%), Black Malvasia (15%)
Standard-bearer of Castellare, it is one of the very few Supertuscans made exclusively with native vines, coming from the two best Crus of the property. Intense ruby red color and with a great olfactory concentration, thanks to the presence of a ripe red fruit that leads to notes of jam, but also spices, vanilla and licorice. In the mouth the wine is characterized by a dense and elegant texture, also supported by the important acidity of the Sangiovese, the tannins are absolutely sweet and the finish is long and persistent. “2017 harvest wasn’t very easy in the Chianti Classico – explains the oenologist Alessandro Cellaibecause it was characterized by a very long period of drought and very high temperatures. However, thanks to the very favorable geographical location of the vineyards, we have achieved great results. The 2017 vintage adds to I Sodi di S. Niccolò typical structure, complexity, elegance, persistence and a nice freshness that is premise of longevity. The wine immediately unveils a great structure, both from olfactory and gustatory point of view, with a marked acidity which makes it long and persistent, ideal to become a long aging wine and to celebrate its 40 harvests”.

Baffonero: 100% Merlot
This Merlot in purity takes its name from a very special vineyard of just 3 ha with a perfect exposure and a medium-clay soil rich in galestro skeleton. Here the clones of Merlot coming from Château Lafite, founder of Rocca di Frassinello winery in joint venture with Domini Castellare di Castellina group, have been planted to give birth to a very top quality limited production. “The 2018 season in the Tuscan Maremma was particularly favorable”, explains Cellai. “Winter saw abundant rainfall that fed the underground water reserves. A colder spring slightly delayed the onset of bud break without, however, causing frosts in the crucial period of development of the young shoots. Subsequently, the hot summer allowed the grapes a magnificent evolution until they reached a perfect phenolic ripeness. The sun and the sea breezes, which accompanied the whole period up to the harvest, together with a good temperature range between day and night, allowed to maintain a high acidity and to obtain a perfect maturity of the pyrazines and other aromatic molecules of Merlot”. In the glass, Baffonero 2018 shows an impenetrable ruby red color revealing a wide range of aromas: black fruits, in particular blackberry and blueberry, and balsamic notes of eucalyptus and tobacco, with slight hints of coffee. In the mouth it is elegant, revealing silky tannins, and pleasant thanks to a marked acidity, with a particularly persistent finish.

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