When it comes to renowned winemakers and historical wineries, Italy has more than its fair share but one definitely stands out: BARONE RICASOLI

Founded in 1141, when Castello di Brolio was purchased, BARONE RICASOLI was involved with winemaking from day one, thus making it the oldest winery in Italy and second in the world. And when it comes to the longest-lived companies on the planet, in any sector, they rank 4th.

Francesco Ricasoli (Instagram: @francescoricasoli), great-grandson of Barone Bettino Ricasoli, leads the winery and is the 32nd generation to do so. I can highly suggest following Francesco’s personal Instagram feed as he trained and worked as a professional advertising photographer – so he has a fantastic eye – before taking over the winery reigns in 1993.

It was with much verve that Francesco set out to regain the Brolio brand which had been sold to Seagram’s in the 70’s by his father and later again to the Australian Hardy’s winery group. So for someone who originally wasn’t even planning to take part in the family business, he was the one to get the winery back on track and re-establish its monumental image on the international wine stage.

Barone Francesco Ricasoli among the drying grapes later to be used in the production of Vin Santo.

The winery not only has an incredible winemaking history and pedigree, Baron Bettino Ricasoli (1809-1880) was once Prime-Minister of Italy and is recognised as the “father” of Chianti as we know it today. It is with his endless experimentation in winemaking and study of his terroir, which allowed him to deduce that the optimal “Chianti” is made with a minimum of 80% Sangiovese grapes with a 20% blend of other red grape varieties. Up until 2006 the use of white wine grapes was allowed but has since been prohibited.

Barone Ricasoli communicated his findings in an historical letter addressed to Professor Cesare Studiati at the University of Pisa:

“…I verified the results of the early experiments, that is, that the wine receives most of its aroma from the Sangioveto (which is my particular aim) as well as a certain vigour in taste; the Canajuolo gives it a sweetness which tempers the harshness of the former without taking away any of its aroma, though it has an aroma all of its own; the Malvagia, which could probably be omitted for wines for laying down, tends to dilute the wine made from the first two grapes, but increases the taste and makes the wine lighter and more readily suitable for daily consumption…”

Though not long ago blending with white grape varieties was allowed, the production rules have since been modified, therefore his “formula” is just as relevant today as he discovered it back in 1872 for what many consider, the most popular wine in the world: Chianti.

When it comes to cycling in the Chianti Classico region, CASTELLO DI BROLIO is one of, if not, the most prominent sight of the famed L’Eroica Gaiole ride, celebrating its 22nd edition in 2018 with the ride taking place on Sunday, October 7. BARONE RICASOLI has been a supporter of the world’s largest vintage cycling ride (over 7.000 participants in 2017) since its inception and its name has become synonymous with the Tuscan event which was founded in 1997 by Giancarlo Brocci.

The Castello di Brolio climb is a highlight of L’Eroica as it’s lit with torches in the early morning hours and the descent all the way to Pianella is simply amazing .

Overlooking Castello di Brolio with vineyards and olive orchards at its feet.

Barone Ricasoli has always been a fan of the vintage bike scene and shares in its celebration of a time when cycling was based on discipline, loyalty and respect.

My visit with Francesco Ricasoli at the winery was on the fly so no tasting took place but I’ll definitely get around to the next time I’m in the region and follow this article up with a more detailed wine oriented one, tasting notes, and a tour of the castle.

Contact information:

The winery offers culinary wine tours, exclusive tasting events, a restaurant, wine shop and much more.
Please contact the winery or visit their website for more information. Enjoy your visit!

Contact information:

Barone Ricasoli
Loc. Madonna a Brolio 53013 Gaiole di Chianti, SI
Tel. +39 0577 7301

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