Just jocking, we are not playing Bingo! It is only the list of anniversaries that Brancaia will be celebrating this year. In fact, 2021 is a year of important milestones for Brancaia, both as a company and on a personal level, for the Widmer family.
On the corporate level, the first estate, Brancaia, was purchased 40 years ago and IL BLU, the wine that has always represented the Brancaia excellence in the Chianti region, celebrates its 30th harvest with the release of the 2018 vintage next September. On a personal level, both Bruno and Brigitte Widmer turn 80 this year, while their daughter Barbara, CEO and winemaker, arrives at an as much important birthday: her 50th. We have plenty to celebrate!
40 YEARS OF BRANCAIA
Yes, already 40 years have already passed since the foundation of Brancaia. In 1980 the Widmers were in Tuscany for a Christmas holiday and Bruno fell in love with a small valley in the municipality of Castellina in Chianti. “From the house of the friend we were with we saw this beautiful piece of land“, he recalls. “The whole area was covered by morning fog, and there was only a portion of the valley lit up by the sun. That was magic! ” Fortunately for them, the owner, an Englishman, was already thinking of selling the estate named Brancaia: the farmer who took care of the vineyards was no longer there and he himself was already seventy. Brigitte was initially sceptical about the purchase, but today she says: “Brancaia means a lot to me – and every day more and more“.
In these 40 years, many things have changed. Brancaia’s daily business has long been in the hands of the second generation and the third is starting to get involved.
Barbara, who studied oenology, has been living on the property since the late 1990s and runs the business with a team of 35 people. But the whole family give their contribution. Andreas, an entrepreneur in the marketing area, helps her with communication and digital strategy projects. Michael, a lawyer, is at her side in financial and legal matters.
In terms of vineyards, over the years, two more estates have been purchased: one in the municipality of Radda in Chianti in 1989 and one in Maremma in 1998. The initial 4 hectares of vineyards are today almost 80. And, if the first wine was a Chianti Classico and the second, Il Blu, arrived in 1988, today we have a much larger lineup.
30 YEARS OF IL BLU
And here comes the second important milestone. It was 1988 and the Super Tuscan movement was changing the Tuscan winemaking scene, when Bruno and Brigitte decided to propose their personal interpretation of this trend. With the release of the 2018 vintage, next September, IL BLU celebrates its 30th harvest: it does so by wearing a celebratory label, packed in a precious wooden box with a corten steel logo which, just like wine inside, will mature over time.
Since its debut in 1988, IL BLU has been the result of a constant search for perfection: uncompromising commitment to quality and respect for nature. With delicate tannins and a soft and full finish in the mouth, this wine stands out for its complexity and elegance.
IL BLU is made only with the best grapes, hand-picked and selected in our two Chianti estates. 30 years ago, this wine was a blend made up of mostly Sangiovese with some Merlot. Today, thanks to the growing complexity of the Merlot grapes, sourced mainly from our 30-year-old vines in Radda in Chianti, this varietal has reached 80%. Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon complete the blend with 10% each.
The single varietals and vineyards are aged separately in barriques, new for two thirds, for 18 months. Afterwards, all the barriques are tasted to select the final blend which will be refined in concrete tanks for 3 more months. In this way the wine becomes even more balanced, the aromas are better integrated, as well as the tannins, even before the aging in the bottle for at least an additional year.
A BLU(E) LABEL
When, in 1988, Bruno and Brigitte decided to create and include a SuperTuscan-style wine in the Brancaia lineup, they considered the opportunity to review the entire image of the brand. The first Brancaia wine, in fact, a Chianti Classico, had a rather ordinary label.
Looking at the bottles of other Tuscan wineries, it was immediately clear that Brancaia lacked all the elements that were usually shown on wine labels: we had a beautiful country house, but certainly not a castle; we had no family crest and not even a history of generations in the wine world. Bruno, who has always loved challenges, saw these “limits” as an opportunity to create something completely new, breaking away from the classic canons. Dealing with strategic marketing and advertising, together with his art director, he created the now iconic navy-blue label with the orange capsule. What at the time was perhaps startling for many wine lovers, has become the distinctive Brancaia label style, used today for all wines.
After all these years, the Brancaia design continues to be modern, elegant, and timeless, fully reflecting the philosophy of our viticulture: “modernist classics with the utmost respect for the terroir and an uncompromising commitment to quality”.
From day one, we produce high quality wines that talk about the territory in which they are born: we are really satisfied with the results achieved, but we are also aware that it is essential to continue investing in development and research.
Now we have to go, we must prepare for the release of IL BLU 2018 in September, but this is just the beginning … We are ready to face the next 30 years!
Interviste esclusive dal mondo del vino ed approfondimenti da chi fa del vino una ragione di vita, di business e di cultura.