A few months ago I was contacted by wellcomonline.com, a PR agency based in Alba, Italy. They wanted to know if I wanted to taste wine samples from Castello di Meleto, a winery in Tuscany. Wellcom handles some of Italy’s top wine clients, so I told them I would except the samples and was very pleased that I did.
The Castello di Meleto estate consists of 2,470 acres of which 300 acres are planted with vines. It is located just over a half mile from the town of Gaiole in Chianti. The castle, the heart of the estate, once belonged to the monks of the Coltibuono Abbey. The name Meleto can be traced back to 1256. Today the vineyards are spread in five different plots that surround the castle, leaving the winery in an ideal central location.
Vermentino 2015 IGT Toscana Bianco made from 100% Vermentino. The vineyard was planted in 2010 and is at 360 to 420 meters. There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot. The grapes are handpicked in small containers in order to reduce skin breakage. After being gently destemmed and soft pressed the free run juice is chilled and left on the skins for a few hours. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. During fermentation, a small portion of the wine undergoes a brief aging in second or third passage barriques. The wine in aged in stainless steel for 4 months before release. This is a fresh slightly tangy wine with hints of citrus and nice minerality. $12
Chianti Classico DOCG 2013 made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is at 360 to 450 meters with a south, southeast and south-west exposure and the soil is gravelly, rich in galestro and alberese. There are 3,500/ 5,000 vines per hectare and the vines were planted in 1970-2000. The training system is spurred cordon, guyot and alberello (bush). The grapes are harvested by hand and by machine and then destemmed and lightly pressed. Maceration is on the skins for 15 to 20 days. Spontaneous alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks, without adding exogenous yeast, for 7-10 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in cement vat. The wine is aged in 54HL Slavonian oak barrels (botti) for 12 months. The wine is aged in the bottle for 6 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, blueberry and a hint of pine. It is a very pleasant wine that is very food friendly. $18
Chianti Classico Riserva “Vigna Casi” DOCG 2012 made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is located in Gaiole in Chianti. The exposure is west, south and southwest at 400 meters. There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon and alberello. The vines were planted in 1990-1995. Harvest and selection is by hand. Maceration and spontaneous fermentation is at a minimum temperature of 78-82F in wooden vats with delestage and pump-over. The wine is kept in contact with the skins for 20 to 25 days before it goes into cement vats for malolactic fermentation. One half of the wine is aged in 52 Slavonian oak barrels, the rest in second or third passage 225-liter barriques for 18 months depending on the vintage. The wine remains in the bottle for 6 months before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of cherries, violets and spice and a long and intense finish. $30
Chianti Classico “Gran Selezione” DOCG 2011 made from 85 % Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard is south facing and is at 400 meters and were planted in 2000 and 2003. There are 5,000 vines per hectare; the training system is spurred cordon and the soil is gravelly, rich in galestro and alberese. Great care is taken in thinning shoots, foliage canopy management, and pruning. Harvest is by hand with 10-kilogram bins. In the cellar the grapes are refrigerated to a temperature of 8/10C for at least 24 hours. After the fermentation, which is in oak barrels, there is a long maceration. The Cabernet Sauvignon is aged in second passage French barriques, while the Sangiovese is aged in second and third passage barriques. The wine is aged between 14 to 18 months depending on the vintage. The wine remains in bottle for one year before release. This is an intense complex wine with hints of spice and berries. It will need a few more years to bring out all of its aromas and flavors. $50
Gran Selezione is a new classification at the top of the Chianti Classico pyramid. The grapes for these wines must be estate grown and come from a single vineyard, or selected from the estates best-suited vineyards. Gran Selezione wines can be released on the market 30 months from the grape harvest, including at least 3 months of bottle age. The alcohol must be at least 13%
Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC 2008 90% Trebbiano, 5% Sangiovese and 5% Malvasia. The vineyard has western exposure and is at 400 meters. The soil is limestone mixed with sandstone. Training system is guyot, there are 3,000 vines per hectare. The vines were planted in 1972 -1974. Manual harvest and the grapes are naturally dried in well-ventilated rooms followed by fermentation and aging is barrels of different woods and sizes, which are sealed and kept in rooms with shifting temperatures. Aging is for 4 to 5 years in mixed wooden casks called caratelli of 60, 100 and 120 liters. The caratelli are filled up to 70%. This is a full dessert wine has hints of dried fruit, honey and apricot with a touch of vanilla. $45 – 375 bottle