Castello di Volpaia: A Great Chianti Classico

When we visited Volpaia a few years ago, someone in our group called it ‘one of the 10 best experiences in her life.!’

The town is made famous by its stellar winery, Castello di Volpaia, which really occupies practically the entire town in the Radda in Chianti subzone. The husband and wife owners, Carlo Mascheroni and Giovannella Stianti, bought the entire village in the 1970s. Actually it was her father, Raffaello Stianti, who started buying the town in 1966 and the family currently owns about two thirds of the village and 900 surrounding acres, of which 116 are vines.

Alfresco lunch at Volpaia

Alfresco lunch at Volpaia

It’s difficult to imagine that this idyllic place was almost deserted by its inhabitants, as recently as 1960. Italy had not started its economic recovery and life was tough in the country, so people left for work in the cities. Instead of building their winery outside the narrow confines of Volpaia, Carlo and Giovannella decided to incorporate the winery into the town which was a feat of engineering since they had to preserve the medieval historical character.

I recall very well our visit during harvest. Giovannella personally escorted us to all the wine making facilities and we ended with lunch in the family’s courtyard, overlooking the prototypical Tuscan landscape. The winery produces 200,000 bottles annually and is certified organic. They are aged mainly in small oak barrels, in a modern style, hence fruit-forward and easier to drink earlier. Their flagship wine is the Chianti Classico Coltassala Riserva, but the best value is the plain riserva, about 30 bucks. Pretty good value for a consistent Tre Bicchieri Award winning wine.

The winery is a short drive from Siena, which is where we stay when visiting Tuscany. There is a restaurant in town owned by the winery but it was a sublime experience to lunch alfresco on the family estate.

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