I was looking forward to once again tasting the wines of Castello del Terriccio and meeting the owner Gian Annibale Rossi Medelana. At dinner, I made sure to sit next to him and found him to be very charming, knowledgeable about his wines and easy to speak with.
His family came to Italy 800 years ago when his noble ancestors followed the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and the Swabians. The family has held vineyards and farmland since 1271.
Gian Annibale inherited the winery in 1975 and took it in a new direction concentrating on making top quality wines.
At the time he was a passionate equestrian competing in international events. A riding accident brought this pastime to an abrupt end when his horse fell and rolled over him, leaving him without the use of his legs. He still manages the estate and drives his jeep over the estate to oversee the agriculture work.
The winery is located in the Maremma, south of Livorno in the region of Tuscany. There are 60 hectares of vineyards. Gian Anniable said the property allowed the vines to be planted in a leopard spot pattern on the most favorable plots, on the basis of the quality of the soil, dew point, exposure to the sea breezes and the light. The vineyards are facing the sea and therefore receive reflected light, with more exposure compared to areas lighted directly by the sun.
He said they are always trying to improve the wine and now use a lighter “toast” for their barrels.
Castello del Terriccio Toscana IGT made from a 50% Syrah, 2% Petit Verdot and 25% other red varieties. The vineyards are at 150 meters and the exposure is south/south west. There are 5,600 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Harvest is by hand from September 12th to 29th. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature for 18 days. Malolactic fermentation is for 4 weeks. The wine is bottled in June. The wine has hints of violets, blackberries, black currants and chocolate.
Gian Annibale said the three roses on the label represent the rose bushes once found in abundance around the ancient castle. We tasted the 2004, 2006 and 2008 vintages.
Tassinaia Toscana IGT made from 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. The vineyards are at 100 meters and there are 5,600 plants per hectare. The grapes come from 37.5 acres of vineyards with sandy, stony soil and a moderating maritime climate characterized by a long ripening season. He said that the two green segments on the label symbolize the grasslands of Terriccio. Harvest is between August 28th and September 9th. Fermentation: The destemmed grapes were left on the skins for 24 hours with a dry ice covering and gently pressed. 50% of the wine was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel vats at controlled temperature and the rest was fermented is second hand oak barrels with malolactic fermentation. The wine ages on the lees for 6 months and is bottled in July. This is a well-structured wine with hints of blackberries, black currents, tobacco and a touch of cedar. We tasted the 2010 and 2013 vintages.
Lupicaia made from 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. Starting in 2010 the blend is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot. The vineyards are at 120 meters and the exposure is south/south west. The soil is mostly limestone. There are 3,600 to 4,200 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Grapes are picked by hand starting on September 6th for the merlot and from September 21 for the Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature: 16 days for the Merlot and Petit Verdot and 20 days for the Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was aged separately in French barriques for 18 to 24 months. This is a complex wine, it has hints of black cherry, blackberry, blackcurrant, with a touch of spice and chocolate.
We tasted wines from the 2004, 2006 and 2010 vintages
He said the two characteristic red-brown segments on the label symbolize the typical red color of the soil. He referred to the Lupicaia as his Super Tuscan.
The name of the wine comes from the area where the grapes are planted which was a favorite hunting grounds for the wolves that once roamed in the area.