The Supertuscan by Castellare di Castellina, for the second time ranked first Italian Red Wine by adding the scores awarded by the Italian and international wine critics, celebrates its 40 harvests
40 harvests, 40 years of history. I Sodi di S. Niccolò, for the second timeranked first Italian Red Wine by adding the scores of the five Italian wine guides and the four most authoritative international wine critics, celebrates its 40 harvests.
It was 1977 when Castellare di Castellina’s flagship wine was bottled for the first time, using a blend of Sangioveto and black Malvasia, two indigenous varieties of the Chianti Classico area. Since then, 40 harvests have followed (only the 1978 wasn’t bottled) collecting many important awards up to twice obtaining, first with 2013 vintage and again with 2016 vintage, the title of first Italian Red Wine. In fact, by adding the scores of 98 pts by Antonio Galloni, 96+ by Robert Parker, 96 by Wine Spectator, 95 by James Sucking, to the scores awarded by the 5 most authoritative Italian guides, in 2021 the 2016 vintage of I Sodi di S. Niccolò ranked first with a total score of 960 points, followed by Solaia (with 958,5 points) and Sassicaia with 956 points.
To memorably celebrate its 40 vintages, I Sodi di S. Niccolò 2017 boasts a special label with the iconic bird, symbol of Castellare commitment to environmentally-conscious viticulture, alight on an elegant black background on which the number 40 stands out in red. In addition, for the occasion, a limited edition in large formats of 15 and 18 liters has been released, showing on the label the 40 different birds appeared on the 40 vintages of I Sodi di S. Niccolò. The first example of both formats will be auctioned by a leading international auction house.
The large formats for collectors come together with a numbered copy of an illustrated art book, translated in Italian, English and Chinese, featuring the original drawings of the birds depicted on I Sodi di S. Niccolò labels since the very first harvest, hand-painted by John Gould, the most important English ornithologist and artist of the 19th century. In fact, Gould not only studied birds, but also painted them with extraordinary precision for his books, which have marked the history of art and scientific ornithology.
2017 wasn’t a very easy year – explains Alessandro Cellai, oenologist of all 4 companies of the Domini Castellare di Castellina group – because it was characterized by a very long period of drought and very high temperatures. However, thanks to the very favorable geographical location of the vineyards, we have achieved great results. The vineyard amphitheater of Castellare, in fact, is located at an average altitude of 430 meters above sea level and is reached by the fresh air currents of the Valdelsa valley that mitigate the temperatures. That’s why, even in particularly hot years such as 2017, or 2010 and 2013, the vines managed to complete their vegetative cycle in an optimal way keeping a high acidity inside the grape.
The 2017 vintage adds to I Sodi di S. Niccolò typical structure, complexity, elegance, persistence and a nice freshness that is premise of longevity. The wine immediately unveils a great structure, both from olfactory and gustatory point of view, with a marked acidity which makes it long and persistent, ideal to become a long aging wine. To celebrate its 40 harvests, I Sodi di S. Niccolò 2017 wears the black tie, paying homage to this icon of the Italian enology in the world “.
I Sodi di S. Niccolò was the first Italian wine to be included in Wine Spectator’s inaugural Top 100 list (1988) with the 1985 vintage, and again in 1989 with the 1986 vintage. It is one of the very few Supertuscans made with autochthonous vines of the Chianti Classico area, showing the greatness of Sangioveto (85%) accompanied by black Malvasia (15%). “With the great Luigi Veronelli”, says Paolo Panerai, journalist, editor and patron of Castellare di Castellina, “we were descending from Castellare di Castellina cellar towards the most beautiful vineyard of the estate: the one that the old sharecroppers had named “Vigna de’ sodi” (“sodi” meaning “hard” in Italian) because of the soil rich in stones: the best for making wine.
On the right appeared the Church of St. Niccolò, dating from the 1300s, surrounded by another vineyard, called after the saint, with the same hard soil. Luigi suddenly stopped and said: ‘Paolo, here is the name for your extraordinary wine: I Sodi di S. Niccolò, but with the article ‘I’ before the name, please. Because that, and only that, will be the amazing wine that will bear this name”.
Forty harvests have followed since then and the success of I Sodi di S. Niccolò has increased over the years. A wine characterized by a great olfactory concentration and a dense and elegant texture, supported by the important acidity of Sangiovese, sweet tannins and a long and persistent finish. Nestled in the heart of the Chianti Classico, Castellare di Castellina estate covers a total of 80 hectares – including 12 occupied by olive groves. The vineyards occupy 33 hectares on the hillsides of a natural southeast-facing amphitheater, at an average height of 430 meters above sea level. The vines are aged between 7 and over 45 years and yields per hectare are kept very low, in order to obtain the top quality.
Excellent exposure to the sun, good water drainage and a mixed soil containing limestone marl, galestro and little clay produce well-structured, intense wines, both red and white, suitable for long ageing in the bottle. Castellare di Castellina is part of the Domini Castellare di Castellina group which today accounts for four wineries: the first and historic Castellare di Castellina, managed since 1977 in Chianti; Rocca di Frassinello, a joint venture with Château Lafite designed by Renzo Piano in the Tuscan Maremma; and finally, the latest arrivals, Feudi del Pisciotto and Gurra di Mare that mark the beginning of exciting endeavors in Sicily. Four wineries overseen by one of the most important oenologists in Italy, Alessandro Cellai, a proudpupil of Giacomo Tachis, the greatest Italian winemaker.
Interviste esclusive dal mondo del vino ed approfondimenti da chi fa del vino una ragione di vita, di business e di cultura.