Brancaia is situated in the heart of the Chianti region, halfway between Florence and Siena, surrounded by hills covered with thick oak and chestnut woods. This landscape, the friendliness of the people, the genuine food and of course also the wine immediately made the Widmer family, who in 1980 from Switzerland was spending the Christmas holidays in Tuscany, fall in love with this territory. Wandering through little frequented streets, they came across a ruin immersed in the green countryside of Castellina in Chianti. It was the Brancaia farm and, although it needed a lot of work, Bruno and Brigitte Widmer bought it in a few weeks.
But the Widmers did not only buy a beautiful stone house to spend their holidays in Italy: the Brancaia farm also included woodland and about 10 hectares of vineyards. They were low density vineyards, abandoned for years but they were enough to give birth to the idea of producing high-quality wine. A great challenge for Bruno, who had a successful career in advertising. The Widmers were soon rewarded by the first flattering results: only two years later, in fact, their Chianti Classico ranked first in a tasting organized by the prestigious German-language magazine Vinum. Driven by this success, in 1989 they purchased a second farm in the municipality of Radda in Chianti. Here, a few years later, Barbara, one of Bruno and Brigitte’s children, took refuge one summer to decide on her future: enrolled in architecture in Zurich, she did not find that world exciting and creative any longer. Those months in Chianti were enough to her, when back to Switzerland, to quit architecture and enroll in the faculty of oenology. In 1998, after completing her studies, she moved to Tuscany to start taking care of the family business, which in the same year had further enlarged with the purchase of a third farm, this time on the Tuscan coast, in Maremma. What started as a simple hobby almost 40 years ago, today is a company, always with Barbara at the helm, with about 80 hectares of vineyards and two cellars for winemaking, one in Chianti and one in Maremma. Brancaia has gone a long way since the beginning and has absolutely no intention of stopping.
It’s all about hospitality
Every day, from Monday to Sunday, we have tours and tastings in the cellar. A real journey to discover the world of Brancaia: from the vineyard, with an approach that combines respect for the environment and the search for quality, to the cellar, where all the grapes are processed respecting their typicity. Besides the tours, many options to taste Brancaia wines. Since last year, then, the opening of a small Osteria on the terrace overlooking the vineyards. Platters of local cheeses and meats and traditional Tuscan dishes cooked by chef Giovanni with fresh products from our garden. Whether it is lunch or dinner, an aperitif, or a snack, the Osteria menu is always an excellent opportunity to accompany the Brancaia wines.
It’s all about the environment
And it all starts in the vineyard where sustainability and respect for nature have always been key themes in the Brancaia philosophy: use of green cover crops to protect and enrich the soil structure, complete ban of herbicides and insecticides, monitoring of CO2 emissions. In addition, from the last harvest, at the end of a three-year conversion period, Brancaia is finally officially organic in all aspects. Organic farming practices not only protect the environment and improve the character and quality of grapes and wines, but also by promoting biodiversity, they also increase the resilience and self-regulation capacity of the vineyard system: the greater the respect for nature, the healthier the vines, the better and more authentic the fruit will be. It is in fact only with the best grapes that great wines can be created. This is one of the most beautiful and important lessons that Brancaia has learned and put into practice in these years: organic agriculture and uncompromising quality are perfectly compatible.
It’s all about quality
The principles of uncompromising quality, respect for traditions without being afraid of imagining innovative and modern approaches also apply to the management of the cellar. The harvest is done entirely by hand and each vineyard is vinified separately. In the winemaking process the addition of selected yeasts has been abandoned for a few years, and the wines now undergo spontaneous fermentation thanks to the “wild” yeasts, naturally present on the fruit and in the cellar. Finally, aging also takes place separately in the first months, to guarantee each wine the time necessary to express its full potential.
The Brancaia portfolio now includes eight wines:
- Il Blu, the flagship wine since 1988, the first vintage, perfectly embodies Brancaia’s vision. A blend of 70% Merlot, 25% Sangiovese and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, it is a wine with a great structure, with very fine tannins and a persistent finish, which fascinates with its complexity and elegance.
- Ilatraia is the flagship wine from the vineyards in Maremma. It is a blend of 40% Petit Verdot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc which shows a perfect balance between maturity and refinement, with velvety and pleasant tannins, typical of the wines of the Tuscan coast.
- From the same warm and sunny Mediterranean coast comes the Maremma Toscana, an extremely accessible pure Cabernet Sauvignon with a great harmony between elegance and freshness.
- Chianti Classico Riserva is obtained from our best Sangiovese grapes blended with Merlot. It shows the elegance and charm of this classic Tuscan grape variety.
- Chianti Classico, on the other hand, is a pure Sangiovese that fascinates for its simplicity, the pleasant freshness, and the ripe notes of cherry, one of the typical aromas of this variety.
- Tre is the name of a young and easily accessible wine and stands for both the three vines of this blend, Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and for our three estates in Tuscany.
- Il Bianco is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and a touch of Viognier, which shows a pleasant freshness together with an excellent structure, aged for one third in barrique and two thirds in steel vats.
- Finally, Rosé is a fruity and elegant wine, which is light in color and alcohol with a fresh finish. It is a 100% Merlot, whose grapes come entirely from our vineyards in Maremma.
Each of these products shows the diversity, distinctiveness, and terroir of our vineyards; each Brancaia wine is harmonious and has its own identity.