Castello di Brolio
Castello di Brolio is an estate located in the heart of the Chianti Classico region, near the city of Florence, Italy. The 1,200 hectares of the estate include 230 hectares dedicated to vineyards, 26 hectares to olive groves, and a centuries-old winery. Apart from that, the estate has an impressive castle located on top of an isolated hill a few kilometers from Gaiole in Chianti with distinct marks of Lombardic origins, as shown in the picture below.
The Castello di Brolio is the most impressive of the many Florentine castles located in the woods, especially because of its panoramic views of the Chianti vineyards that stretch all the way to Siena and Monte Amiata.
Historically, the estate had strategic importance for the control of the Chianti area, a border between Florentine and Sienese territories. Florentine always owned the estate, except for a temporary Sienese occupation in 1472. Florentine recaptured the estate in 1484 and fortified it against the new fire weapons. The history behind the castle is full of wars and other battles, adding a certain mystique to how this winery managed to stand tall and strong all these years. The winery even has its archaeological site, which features remnants of an old Roman villa built in the first century BC. Many vineyards surround the castle, with centuries-old olive trees dotting the landscape.
The expansive estate property is owned by a powerful feudal family of Ricasoli from the beginning of the 12th century and is still owned by their descendants. It is the largest in Chianti Classico and is also by far one of Italy’s oldest wineries, with a documented history of winemaking going back to 997. When Ricasoli took ownership of Brolio Castle, they started winemaking by placing their wines in the mighty walls of the fortress and influenced overall Italian winemaking with documented proof way back to 1141.
In 1872, Baron Bettino Ricasoli, nicknamed the Iron Baron, decided to transform his family’s estate into a world-class winery. Bettino was an avid politician and an innovative wine entrepreneur. He created his now-famous Chianti recipe i.e., Chianti Classico. In the creation of Chianto Classico, Bettino abandoned the traditional practices and introduced a more modern style of production that led to higher quality wines. Bettino’s success influenced other Italian winemaking, as it inspired other grapes growers in the area to make changes into their own winemaking and produce quality wines. With the passage of time, his family continued making wine themselves, passing on their expertise from generation to generation to produce quality wines. It’s noteworthy that the original Brolio castle was a stone fortress converted into a modern winery to place the wines inside the mighty walls of the fortress. The building still features the old tower and ramparts of the original structure while incorporating modern wine cellars into its design. There are gargoyles near each tower, representing how it used to be a fortress that protected its owners during wartime.
Nowadays, Castello di Brolio is best known for its Chianti Classico wines. The Chianti Classico has been awarded the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita “(DOCG) designation, which stands for. This award protects both tradition and quality when it comes to wines in Italy. In terms of wine production, Castello di Brolio runs a tight ship. Its Chianti Classico wines are available in two different tiers: the basic Riserva and the Gran Selezione. The winery also produces other Tuscan wines, such as a super-Tuscan called Solengo, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and an IGT wine called “I Migliori.”
The location, soil type, and the sun’s angle help make Brolio’s grapes some of Italy’s finest grapes for wine production. The grapes used for making Brolio wines are primarily Sangiovese Grosso grapes, also known as Brunello di Montalcino which can be found in other parts of Italy but were originally cultivated in Tuscany. This dark-skinned grape is considered one of Italy’s most important grape varieties and the most essential of the three primary grape varieties used for over 87% of Italian wines.
Other grape varieties go into this dark-red wine, including Mammolo and Colorino. These help to give it good body, aroma, color, and tannin levels. The grapes are cultivated with minimal human intervention, allowing them to grow naturally. As far as aging goes, the Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico is aged for at least 24 months before release to the market.
The vines themselves are part of what makes this region special; they’re incredibly old (some cuttings date back to 80 BC) and tightly packed together. This gives them an advantage in terms of sturdiness and maximum exposure to sunlight, which means a greater concentration of sugar and flavor.
Brolio estate’s wines are known for their elegance, softness, fruitiness (sweetness), and strong tannin presence. These features give them their unmistakable character, which makes them so enjoyable to drink (and sometimes hard to forget).
Today, the winery is particularly well-known for its Chianti Classico wines and produces up to 2.500.000 bottles each year. The wines undergo a long aging process to allow them to develop their full taste.
Visitors can take a tour of the estate and see for themselves how some of Italy’s finest wines are produced.
The estate is a popular wine tourism destination, mainly because of its proximity to Florence. Many tourists staying in Florence for vacation put Castello di Brolio on their itinerary. Along with the wine cellars, there are opportunities for unconventional tours within the estate and a cozy restaurant to satisfy the taste of wine lovers.
Additionally, there are many sights that suit the tastes and budgets of the tourists.
Did you know: Tuscan aristocrats, particularly the Antinori and Frescobaldi families, have frequently produced wine since the Renaissance.
The grape blends used to make Chianti wine were first determined by Baron Ricasoli, whose descendants now rule the castle. With the creation of the Chianti Classico brand in the mid-nineteenth century, Baron Bettino Ricasoli capitalized on the improvement of production and led the modernization of winemaking. Barone Bettino Ricasoli largely founded the modern Chianti wine industry. His current family has carried on his viticultural activity. The Chianti consortium, the Consorzio Chianti Classico, serves as a quality assurance for all Chianti Classico produced in the region. The Gallo Nero (black rooster), the designated symbol, embodies its quality.