Many Italian wine companies have long running histories that inform everything that they do. Many even have progenitors who worked in entirely different industries, or made names for themselves for their exploits away from the world of wine.
Take the Antinori family as a perfect example. Now one of the biggest names in the global wine industry, that family’s history is rife with political accomplishments and the sort of stories that make for perfect historical television. In fact, that were once one of the most powerful families in Florence, which is a reputation that they carry into their modern day winemaking exploits.
There are few Italian companies that can rival the Antinoris when it comes to the depth of their history. However, there are some. Today, we’re going to take a look at Barone Ricasoli, which has a story that is just as deep and interesting as its more famous competitor.
The Ricasoli name is littered throughout medieval Italian history. From the days of the Empire of Charlemagne onwards, the family has been one of the bastions of the Italian nobility. The thirteenth century saw something of a change, as the family multiplied and splintered in all sorts of different directions. For a while, it was difficult to trace much of the family and their exploits, though we are sure they we numerous over those hundreds of years.
What we do know is that the family maintained a powerful army for much of that period. Based in the Brolio Castle, the Ricasolis played a crucial role in the many military exploits of Florence for hundreds of years. From the feudal days of the 13th century, right up until Italy united into a single land, the Ricasolis fought battle after battle in defence of their territories. This political power culminated later on, when the family’s own Bettino Ricasoli became the “Iron Baron”, otherwise known as Italy’s Prime Minister in the era after Cavour.
That’s the military history, which explains just why the Ricasoli name is so important in the annals of Italy. However, there is much more to Bettino Ricasoli than initially meets the eye. Yes, he may have served in the most important political office in Italy, but he also had an eye for wine. His greatest passion was Chianti, as you may expect from a man who had Florence in his blood. Away from his political ambitions, he was an entrepreneur who wanted to share his love for wine with the world.
He experimented with different grape blends for many years, eventually reaching the point where he was confident enough to write down his own formula in a recipe that dates back to 1872. This formula serves as the basis of the Baron Ricasoli’s Chianti to this day, and proves once and for all that many of the people who have built the history of the Italian wine industry were multi-talented renaissance men.
This brings us nicely to the winery itself. Baron Ricasoli holds the distinction of being the world’s second oldest winemaker. As you can see, it wasn’t just Bettino who has an eye for wine. In fact, the entire family has been involved in the industry for centuries. It even beats out the Antinori family and stands as the oldest winemaker in all of Italy.
That’s not all, either. The company owns the largest winery in the Chianti Classico area. The famed Brolio Castle, which has served as the family’s base for so many years, is also its winery. For centuries, the Ricasoli family produced several types of wines from this area, though it was not until Bettino created his famed Chianti formula that they began to focus much of their efforts on this most prestigious of wines.
The castle is an impressive sight in its own right, but it is surrounded by over 1,200 hectares of land, over 230 of which are filled with the vineyards that the family relies upon to create its products.
So what of the winery in the modern day. After all, you’d expect a company with such a vivid and interesting history to carry the sort of reputation that would make any other winemaker jealous. Unsurprisingly, that is exactly the case. Now overseen by the 32nd Baron of Brolio, Baron Ricasoli’s work constantly demonstrates just how special Brolio is to the Italian wine industry.
Since 1993, Francesco Ricasoli has overseen the company’s work and ensured that it lives up to the rather stunning reputation that his family has built. Much like those who came before him, he is a dreamer an experimenter who is constantly looking for new ways to make the most out of the land that his family has fought so hard for. Of course, he is also backed by a millennia of winemaking experience, so you cannot make the argument that winemaking is not in this man’s blood.
Today, the winery constantly introduces new labels to the market, many of which have won acclaim and awards from the industry. Let’s now take a look at one of its more recent creations.
Casalferro was one of the first wines that Francesco Ricasoli developed upon taking the helm at his family’s company back in the early 1990s. It didn’t take long for the industry to recognise the sheer quality on display in the wine, so you could argue that the Casalferro was the signal that told the industry that it has to pay attention to this experimental young winemaker.
The ruby red colouring glows with an intensity that tells you that you’re letting yourself in for something very memorable as soon as you sip the wine.
Before you do that, you should enjoy the bouquet. Your senses will be overwhelmed with a range of aromas, which include pepper, cocoa, and cinnamon. All of these complement the rich red fruits that make up the base of the wine. Those who take their time exploring will also notice a few spicy hints.
These spicy hints come to the fore when you taste the wine. Combining with the red fruits, they leave an indelible impression that can best be described as massive.