Baron Ricasoli and the origins of Chianti
In Gaiole in Chianti, in the province of Siena, the majestic Brolio Castle is protected by walls up to 16 meters tall. Its imposing bastions and spiring towers look over a breathtaking view that goes from Mount Amiata to Volterra, embracing the Arbia Valley all the way to Siena.
The Castle was purchased by the Ricasoli family in 1141, and as the last outpost of the Florentine Republic was the theater of decades of battles and attacks.
In 1835, Baron Bettino Ricasoli decided to renovate the estate according to his time’s Gothic taste. Perhaps he believed that would be a way to leave his mark – while in fact he would go down in history and change the destiny of the whole region by investing 30 years into winemaking research and experimentation. Being a politician as well as an entrepreneur of great wisdom, over the decades he perfected the “recipe” for the most famous wine ever: Chianti.
He was the man behind the prestigious nectar, officially born in 1872 when the Baron wrote a letter to Professor Cesare Studiati at the University of Pisa, saying, “I confirmed the outcomes of my first experiences, in which the wine takes from Sangioveto most of its aroma (which I particularly focus on) and a certain sensational strength; from Canajuolo the agreeability that tones down the former’s harshness, without compromising on aroma; Malvagia, which could be avoided completely in wines destined to ageing, tends to dilute the product of the first two grapes, enhancing the flavor and making the blend lighter and easier to drink even every day…”
Today the castle bears testimony to this long-gone past. The amazing interiors of its 400 rooms are a treasure trove of unique pieces, immersed in the 1,200 hectares of the Ricasoli family’s estate, including 240 hectares of vineyards and 26 of olive groves, an Italian garden, a romantic 19th-century park and a small 14th-century church.
According to legend, the ghost of Baron Ricasoli comes back in the night, when there is a full moon, wrapped in his black cape, riding his horse with a pack of hunting dogs. Surrounded by mystery and restless, unable to leave the place he loved so much.
Barone Ricasoli Spa
Loc. Madonna a Brolio
53013 Gaiole di Chianti (SI)
Tel. +39 0577 7301