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Essential Winemakers of Italy ©Opening a Bottle

Volpaia, Toscana      

Primary Grapes: Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon

Primary Appellations: Chianti Classico DOCG, Toscana IGT, Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC

www.volpaia.com

American Importer: Wilson Daniels

The Wines…

Castello di Volpaia has the standard Chianti Classico roster of wines: an annata Chianti Classico DOCG, a riserva with a little more aging, a single-vineyard Chianti Classico, a Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, two Toscana IGT red wines where they can bend the rules as they please, and of course, a Vin Santo. I have sampled every one except for the Vin Santo — four of them by the bottle with a meal — and they are all extraordinarily elegant, detailed and precise wines. They also have a separate label called Prelius that specializes in wines from Maremma. The Vermentino from this brand is quite good, although I’m only listing Castello di Volpaia as “essential.”

All of their wines are certified organic, and they are striving for zero CO2 emissions in their winery practices. Neither of which are a prerequisite, but kudos to them for making organic viticulture and sustainability a priority.

Castello di Volpaia ©Castello di Volpaia/Wilson Daniels

The village and castle of Volpaia, located north of Radda in Chianti. ©Castello di Volpaia/Wilson Daniels

…And Why They Stand Out

Chianti means one thing: Sangiovese. Sure, there are other grapes often blended in, but the star of the show is unequivocally Sangiovese. From my experience, few wineries allow Sangiovese to shine more brightly than Castello di Volpaia. Their wines have an elegance and purity to them, with heavenly aromas and evenly balanced acidity and tannins across the entire flight of wines. Chianti Classico often fatigues the palate with oak; Volpaia’s version does the opposite: it is engaging from the moment the bottle is opened to the moment the bottle is empty.

Of particular note is the single-vineyard “Coltassala,” which may be my favorite Sangiovese-based wine, period. Further up the ladder is Il Puro, a Gran Selezione which may be even better. But until you’re ready to drop $120 on a Chianti Classico, their base-level bottling (at $19) is the best in the business as well.

Visiting Castello di Volpaia

Tastings: Tours and tastings are available via booking online.

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