Castello di Brolio of Barone Ricasoli is located atop a hill 20km north of Siena within the commune of Gaiole in Chianti on the edge of the Chianti Classico DOCG zone. This historical site has been the stage for many of battles between Florentines and Sienese, the Spanish invasion and even suffered damage from artillery in World War II. Despite its destruction and revival through the years, this fortress and its 1,200 hectares of tree lined hills has been in the Ricasoli family since 1141. Of the land surrounding the Castello di Brolio, there are 235 hectares of vines and 26 olive tree groves and is recognized as the birthplace of the original formula of Chianti Classico wine, as created by Barone Bettino Ricasoli in 1872.
Barone Ricasoli is the oldest winery in Italy, having been producing wine at the Castello di Brolio since the 1500s at least. There are export documents that show that Amsterdam and England were markets for this Chianti Classico producer in the 1600s. Their reputation grew and their distribution expanded in the 1900s as they were exported to China, Saudi Arabia, former English colonies of Africa and even in the new world countries of Costa Rica and Guatemala.
The Ricasoli estate is also considered to be one of the oldest family run businesses in Italy. Situated in the prime Chianti zone of Tuscany, the family heavily invested in the agriculture and vineyards of the lands of Castello di Brolio. The most famous of the family was Barone Bettino Ricasoli. A two time Prime Minister of the newly formed Italy and nicknamed the ‘Iron Baron’, he dedicated his time in the vineyards to creating the perfect wine. He declared in 1872, after 30 years of research, that the formula for a wine to carry the Chianti name it must be composed of at least 70% Sangiovese, 20% Caniaolo and 10% either Trebbiano or Malvasia (the latter two being white grapes). This recipe was adopted by the Chianti DOC regulations and stood as the benchmark until 1984. Once Ricasoli made this pronouncement, the Chianti of Brolio became a widely known and respected producer of Chianti and it is still owned and produced by a Ricasoli, Barone Francesco Ricasoli, to this da
Next time you are up for imbibing some history, uncork a bottle of the Barone Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico. And, when we are able to visit our Italian friends again, you can visit the castle!
Available at select Big Red Liquor stores:
Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico
92 Points James Suckling
Sangiovese min 80%, Merlot 15%, Cabernet Sauvignon 5%
Intense ruby red color. On the nose, clear aroma of red fruit, strawberry and iris. Voluminous in the mouth, with good character, mirroring our territory. Finish with good persistence and pleasurableness.
Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Riserva
93 Points Robert Parker Wine Advocate
80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Intense ruby red color. Rich and complex nose, which recalls ripe red fruits, spices and sweet notes of vanilla. In the mouth, it is voluminous, with structured, appreciable tannins. Long and persistent finish.
A great pairing that makes everyone happy:
Fagioli al Fiasco Sotto Cenere*
White beans braised in a flask under cinders
*with some modifications for the modern cook
This is a traditional Tuscan dish made with creamy white beans that are braised through the night under cinders in a Fiasco, or traditional bulbous Chianti bottle (the one with the wicker). However, we don’t have that kind of time or fire cooking capability, so we use a dutch oven and a stove top.
12 oz white cannellini beans
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 branch rosemary
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
½ cup finely chopped, peeled and seeded tomatoes-optional
6-8 leaves fresh sage
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
Place beans in dutch oven with 2 cups water, oil rosemary, garlic, sage and tomatoes (if using) and braise over low flave for 2 hours. Bring to a simmer and place them in 300 degree oven for 2 hours.
Not only is this recipe delicious, it will make your living space smell AMAZING. You can serve with hunks of bread, as a dish with a fried egg. Serve warm or cool.