This morning we are delighted to release a brilliant wine, with an incredible Price Over Points score. It is our inaugural release of this wine, Castellare di Castellina Sodi San Niccolo and we have chosen the stunning 2013 vintage to do it with. In 2013 it has been awarded 95+ points by Antonio Galloni, who says ’The flagship 2013 I Sodi di San Niccolò is classy and polished to the core’, he goes on to say ‘For my money, Sodi remains one of the world’s most pedigreed under-the-radar wines.’ Monica Larner of the Wine Advocate awards it 96 points saying, “The bouquet is powerful but seamless at the same time with smooth transitions between dark cherry, spice, tobacco and moist clay. In the mouth, this wine shows dense extraction, but it never feels too weighed down by that mass…. Aged in barrique for 30 months, this is a delightful Tuscan red.’ Scores of this magnitude from these two leading critics are normally reserved for Sassicaia, Ornellaia and Masseto and it is rare to find them in complete agreement.
In Castellare di Castellina Sodi San Niccolo they are, however the price is what makes this wine so remarkable, priced at £215 per case of six, the wine has a POP score of 26.8, a brilliant score for a brilliant wine. As the table below demonstrates, there is plenty of upside, it pays to buy on release! It is rare to find a wine with a score from Vinous or Wine Advocate of 96 points priced at £36 a bottle, a veritable bargain! With only 2,000 cases made, the wine is sure to sell out. We have a very limited allocation!
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Castellare di Castellina is a hidden gem. It is not nearly as famous as it should be, for it occupies an important space in the tradition and innovation of the Tuscan hills. It was created by Paolo Panerai formed from the union of four estates, Castellare, Caselle, San Niccolò and Le Case; his aim, to produce the finest wine possible! This was in the 1970s
when the Tuscan renaissance was in full swing, new wine making techniques and a verve for innovation sweeping through the hearts of a new generation. Castellare joined these winds of change, yet doing so by playing a part in innovation, combined with tradition. The tradition was in their incredible focus on caring and nurturing the vineyards and terrains they had, they do so by distinguishing between fields and sodi: fields reference the more easily worked terrain, while sodi are the ‘hard soils’, the hardest, yet the best for high quality grapes. Castellare di Castellina, moreover, decided to respect the Tuscan method, the Chianti Classico denomination, thereon only using indigenous grapes.
Innovation came through the inception of the primary experimental vineyard in Chianti, created in collaboration with the University of Milan, directed by Professor Attilio Scienza, along with the University of Florence. They began the first scientific selection of Sangiovese clones, in this case called Sangioveto. This scientific method allowed for far greater understanding, control and therefore quality to be achieved. Castellare di Castellina then introduced the use of barrique, this followed research from Emile Peynaud, the great Bordeaux oenologist. This usage of course broke away from the Chianti Classico denomination. This dedication to research and innovation synthesises the new improved possibilities provided by science while drawing on the land, taking from the hard work and lives of the Mezzadri; the people who ran the estates, either as owners or labourers, who shaped the landscape and Chianti.
Castellare di Castellina is sited in the heart of Chianti Classico, covering 80 hectares, which includes 20 olive groves. The vineyards, however, only occupy 33 hectares on the hillsides, facing a south-east facing amphitheatre. The vines occupy an average height of 370 metres above sea level. The vines are as old as 45 years, keeping yields low, to ensure maximum quality. The soil contains the hallowed limestone marl, galestro, along with a little clay which helps to produce intense wines, with a superb structure, capable of long bottle age. The aforementioned research resulted in the very best selection of clones re-grated for the terroir and climatic conditions. The clones of Sangioveto and the Malvasia Nera varieties which persist in the blend today are the legacy of this hard work. The vines are also fully organic and reflect the great respect the estate has for nature, which is reflected in the fact every year the labels bares a drawing of a different bird, which is being made rarer due to poisons and herbicides in vineyards!