Thursday, May 22, 2014

Interview with Federico Cerelli of Castello di Gabbiano

I was fortunate to spend some time at Busa Wine & Spirits in Burlington, MA meeting with the winemaker, Federico Cerelli, of Castello di Gabbiano, which is situated in San Casciano Val de Pesa. This commune resides in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. Castello di Gabbiano is the second largest vineyard owner in the Chianti Classico region with about 400 acres (160 hectacres), according to Federico, and close to 270 of those acres (110 hectacres) are planted with the sangiovese grape. The other 130 acres (50 hectacres) are used to produce IGT wines including cabernet sauvignon and merlot. With their new plantings of 25 acres (10 hectacres) per year they hope to become the largest vineyard owner. They currently produce about 600,000 bottles. It's not about quantity for Federico though as it is quality.

Federico Cerelli Castello di Gabbiano
Federico Cerelli of Castello di Gabbiano
It was a lot of fun talking with Federico. He was very personable and what was even better was that he is from the area where I got married in Bucine,Tuscany so we had a great kickoff. Federico joined Castello di Gabbiano in 2011 as the head winemaker. Being from the Tuscany region and having attended the University degli Studi di Firenze with a degree in Enology and Viticulture he has a strong appreciation and understanding of the terroir. He had worked with the famous Antinori estate for 5 years prior as well as working out in California.

White wines of Gabbiano

I tried a whole line of wines from their pinot grigio through their estate sangiovese. The whites I tried, pinot grigio and moscato d'Asti are actually sourced and/or produced in other regions. The Gabbiano pinot grigio, named “Promessa”, is produced up in the Fruili-Giulia Venezia, also known as the Tre Venezie, region in northeastern Italy. Federico works very closely with them throughout the year in regards to growing these grapes and caring for them to produce quality wines. Once harvested, the grapes are brought down to their facilities in Tuscany to be bottled. 

The Gabbiano Moscato d'Asti comes from the area of Asti found in the Piedmont region in northwestern Italy (one of my favorites). With this particular wine they bottle the wine themselves due to the process and the need to be bottled sooner than taking the time to transporting the wine down to Tuscany. This was a perfect wine after dinner or even with some fruit and cheese prior. It had a soft fizz and sweetness that was very enjoyable. Both of these regions are known for producing these types of grapes and they grow best there, which is why Castello di Gabbiano is partnered with them to produce quality wines.

2010 Castello di Gabbiano BellezzaRed wines of Castello di Gabbiano

In regards to the reds the highlight was the 2010 Castello di Gabbiano Bellezza, meaning beauty, named by the workers because of the special soil and views from this single vineyard that is 17 acres (7 hectacres) at 400 meters high. The grapes here are grown on 15 year old vines. They produce about 2,000 cases of this wine. This is a Chianti Classico D.O.C.G produced with 100% sangiovese. It's aged 18 months in oak with 50% being new oak. The body and roundness of this wine paired with a nice presence of fruit and a long finish made this wine very attractive to me. This is definitely for a special occasion or just because you feel like trying something that displays the sangiovese grape in its element.

Good values of Castello di Gabbiano

2010 Gabbiano Chianti ClassicoFor great deals at about $8-10 a bottle their 2010 Gabbiano Chianti Classico I found to be an enjoyable easy drinking Chianti. I preferred this over their Chianti because I felt that it was a better expression of sangiovese with a riper profile of fruit with some hints of spice. The Chianti Classico is fermented in stainless steel and then aged 12 months in oak. Another good value wine that seemed more accustomed to the modern tastes was their Solatio. This wine is a blend of 60% syrah, 35% cabernet sauvignon and 5% sangiovese. This wine comes from the west coast of Tuscany. They first started producing this wine in 2010 and this is the 3rd vintage, but its the first vintage being sold in the US.

On the website of Castello di Gabbiano they discuss that “the future of the production of ancient wines lies in its capacity to balance tradition and innovation.” This is so important to stay true to the traditions of how these wines started, but also being able to keep up with modern technology that is helping to advance winemaking in the world today.

This weekend I'll be sharing with you some wines that I tasted at a recent tasting including a wine from the Trentino-Alto Adige and I may even throw in a recommendation for some great French wines that I tried as well that I was impressed with. Until then, drink well!

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