by Fred McMillin
for April 10, 1998
Winery of the Week
A Chianti Castle
"Unlike many of the so-called castles of Chianti, the Castello di Gabbiano is a real one."
...Rosemary George, "Chianti"
How old is the castle? Well, as construction started knights returning from the Second Crusade brought a sensational new foodstuff to Europe "that was virtually unknown even in the greatest castles." It was called sugar. The year was 1124 A.D. The year before a famous wine-writer had died...Omar Khayyam.
Other Gabbiano highlights:
The Solderinis retained the castle until they were exiled by another big name, the Medicis. Now, let's fast-forward to the 20th century.
1981—Milan chemical engineer Raino Alcaini with $12 million loose change, buys the property & more than doubles the vineyard acreage to 120. Half are devoted to Chianti Classico varieties, with most of the remainder for use in the new Supertuscans (that contain Bordeaux varietals). Happily, the winery has maintained a tie to its origins; the ancient wine cellar is still alive and well, sporting some modern features like new French oak barrels, etc.
Would you believe, in Piedmont, north of Tuscany, there is a winery named Castello di Gabiano near the town of Gabiano. I've not seen its red wines in the USA.
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