Castellare di Castellina is a 225 acres estate in the heart of Chianti Classico at Castellina in Chianti, created in 1968 by the fusion of five different small farms. In 1979 it was purchased by Paolo Panerai, editor in chief and publisher who, over the years, has turned it into one of most prominent estates of Chianti Classico. Vineyard acreage is 75 acres, 60 of which in a natural amphitheater of hills with a south-western exposure; annual production is approximately 240,000 bottles between DOCG and IGT wines. Red wines dominate, but there are three white wines as well, structured, intense, and long-lived. Yields per acre, particularly for the red wines, are below those permitted by appellation rules. Vine research, carried out immediately after purchase, enabled the estate to select the finest clones of Sangioveto, the local version of Sangiovese, and of Malvasia Nera. These are the varieties which give maximum quality and character, particularly in the case of I Sodi di San Niccolò, a wine included in the Wine Spectator list of the world’s 100 best wines two years in a row and with a raiting of 97/100 by Parker. The word “sodi” was used by Tuscan peasants to describe vineyards which needed to be worked by hand due to the hardness, or solidity, of the soil and the steepness of the slopes.
I Sodi di San Niccolò, a selection of the two finest vineyards (or crus) of the estate, demonstrates that the native varieties of the zone are perfectly capable of giving high-level wines, without the use of international grapes in the blend. Castellare (now known as Domini Castellare di Castellina, as there are now four domaines) has promoted the joint-venture with Domain Baron de Rothschild-Lafite created in 2000, Rocca di Frassinello. The first wines from the cellars, designed by famed architect Renzo Piano, were from the 2004 vintage and were produced under the supervision of oenologists Alessandro Cellai and Christian Le Sommer. The wines from the 2005 vintage have already received widespread recognition and maximum scores. The second label, Le Sughere di Frassinello, is included in the Top 100 of Wine Spectator.