Italian wines have always been a favorite on my palette. Couple that with the Chianti region in Italy and to me that is an experience that borders on paradise. Think of a castle (or “castello” as the Italians call it) that was originally constructed in 1124 and over the years has been home to some of Florence’s most famous noble families. That would be the stunning Castello di Gabbiano estate in the Chianti Classico region. It is a castle that has seen history, battles and a lot of good wine.
There are more than 300 acres of vineyard planted at Castello di Gabbiano mainly of the Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Canaiolo persuasion. Even better, guests to the vineyard can stay at the castle overnight drinking the wine, touring the property and otherwise lounging the day away. There are 11 rooms in the castle and five apartments that can be rented. Each room is located down a long hall and up a steep set of steps, all reminiscent of the history and secrets this grand old structure embodies.
Visitors are given the chance to tour the castle’s cellar and hand-carved tunnels, which date back to the late 13th century. These tunnels have been restored to accommodate more than 600 French oak barrels and there is also a library of Gabbiano reserve wines. With a restaurant on the property, Il Cavaliere, you can take cooking classes with Chef Francesco Berardinelli and on occasion there is even a cheese tasting class as well as wine tasting, of course.
I can definitely say that Chef Berardinelli recipes at Il Cavaliere express his love for Tuscany, showcase the seasonal, fresh approach of Italian cuisine and beautifully highlight the Castello di Gabbiano wines.
The winemaking tradition at Castello di Gabbiano dates back to the Tuscan winemaking tradition that began about 3,000 years ago. That was when the Etruscans cultivated vines and made wine that was among the first to be distributed in Europe. There was much fighting for land over the last 3,000 years in this area as well as the fall of the Roman Empire and raging battles between the nearby city of Siena and Florence, but one thing remained constant – the wine.
Castello di Gabbiano was actually built, just one among many castles built over the past thousands of years, during this bloody time. Notice that the symbol for this castle even today is the Il Cavaliere or a knight on horseback. Legend says that the Cavaliere protected the Castello from outside invaders, a scene that once could be seen on a long-lost fresco that adorned the castle walls.
As for the wine, well the wine in the Chianti region stands out as one of the best wine growing areas in the world. This is due to the clay and limestone soil giving the grapes in this region an intense taste and structure. Add to the mix Castello di Gabbiano’s Winemaker Federico Cerelli and you have the perfect blend. Cerelli, who has been with Castello di Gabbiano since 2011, is a native of Tuscany and alongside the age old grapes he brings modern winemaking techniques into the process. Labels include Alleanza I.G.T., Bellezza Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione, Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva, Chianti DOCG, Solatio, Traminer Vendemmia Tardiva, Rose and my favorite the Chianti Classico DOCG, which is produced according to the classic style of making wine with a nod toward the ancient tradition. Indeed, try each wine alone or with food. Each one sings a beautiful song indeed, just like Castello di Gabbiano and its breathtaking countryside.