Castellare I Sodi di San Niccolò: A Complete Retrospective 1979 – 2007

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Proprietor Paolo Panerai is adamant about it. Sangioveto is the correct name and spelling of Tuscany’s main indigenous red variety. Panerai is one of Italy’s most successful entrepreneurs. His publishing empire is vast and encompasses a number of journals running the gamut from Milano Finanza, an Italian version of Barron’s, to Class and other glossy lifestyle magazines. Since the late 1970s, Panerai has owned Castellare, one of the jewels of Chianti Classico. Castellare isn’t as well known as the trendiest estates in Tuscany, but the wines rarely fail to impress. The last few years have seen a marked increase in quality throughout the entire range, especially among the entry-level bottlings.

Quality has never been an issue with the flagship I Sodi di San Niccolò, one of the true icons of Chianti Classico that remains under the radar. Fortunately for consumers, prices have yet to catch up with quality. Sodi is 85% Sangioveto and 15% Malvasia Nera from a vineyard in the heart of the estate, where the bunches are typically loose and naturally low in vigor. Today Sodi is fermented in stainless steel, then racked into concrete for the malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged 24 months in French oak barrels, roughly 50% new. Consulting oenologist Maurizio Castelli made the first vintages. Current winemaker Alessandro Cellai arrived in 1997. Readers who want to learn more about Castellare and I Sodi di San Niccolò may want to take a look at my recent video interview with Cellai.

Castellare I Sodi di San Niccolò Key Points:

1. 85% Sangioveto/15% Malvasia Nera aged in French oak barrels

2. Made from a low-vigor vineyard in the heart of the property in Castellina

3. Impeccable track record of consistency and excellence

4. Aging potential: 20-30 years

-- Antonio Galloni