Friday, December 19, 2008

Castello San Donato in Perano: A New (?) Winery in Chianti

Castello di San Donato in Perano is of course anything but new -- the castle, which is in the Comune of Gaiole, was built a thousand years ago, and is surrounded by 60 hectares of vineyards that were owned and farmed by Castello di Meleto until 2004.

The Castello has now changed hands, and the new owners have ambitious plans to increase quality and (with time) production. They recently organized a tasting in Florence, and I came away quite impressed.

The Wines:

Castello San Donato in Perano IGT Bianco del Castello 2007
In making this, after harvesting the grapes they frose them to extract more aromas, and then barrel fermented the wine. It's a work in progress that they are still adjusting, but I found it interesting. Pale brassy gold, with a fairly rich bouquet with tropical fruit and some butterscotch. Quite international. On the palate it's fairly full, and languid, with ample tropical fruit supported by considerable mineral bitterness that flows into a clean bitter mineral finish. Pleasant in a very international key, and though I found it a bit obvious on the palate (the nose is more interesting), it will drink nicely as an aperitif or with cheese or fish-based antipasti.
1 star

Castello San Donato in Perano Chianti Classico DOCG 2006
This is the second vintage entirely under the new ownership. Deep ruby with black reflections. Bright bouquet with fresh, lively cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit and red currant acidity. Inviting. On the palate it's medium bodied, with bright red berry fruit supported by tannins that have a clean bitter underpinning, and lead into a slightly tart bitter finish. Graceful and lithe; it's light on its feet and quite pleasant to drink -- perfect with meat-based antipasti and pasta dishes, simple grilled meats, and light stews. Worth seeking out, and the bottle will go quickly.
2 stars

Castello San Donato in Perano Chianti Classico 2005
This is the transitional vintage, from the old to the new ownership, and shows that the new people were getting their bearings: it's deeper ruby, and shows greater wood influence that settles the wine, while leaving a greenish cedar imprint upon the palate. They prefer the 2006 to the 2005, and plan to continue the path they've begun with the 06. In particular, they only use medium to large wood for their red wines -- no small oak barrels.

Castello San Donato in Perano Chianti Classico Riserva 2005
Deep pigeon blood ruby with some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with red berry fruit and some bitterness mingled with hardwood ash and greenish vegetal notes. Nice balance, from a weaker year. On the palate it's ample, with moderately rich berry fruit supported by minerality and some savory notes, while the tannins are brambly and flow into a bitter finish. It displays some of the same problems displayed by the 05 Chianti -- a transitional wine, and I'm quite curious about what the 06 Riserva will be like.
1 star

Castello San Donato in Perano IGT Rosso Toscana Merlot 2005
This is, as the name suggests, a Merlot in Purezza, and is made in limited quantities -- 5000 bottles for this vintage. It's deep pigeon blood ruby with ruby rim, and has a fairly rich bouquet with black currant fruit laced with cedar and some spice. Nice balance between oak and fruit; the fruit isn't too rich, but it is a pleasant expression of the 2005 vintage. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich clean black currant fruit supported by deft acidity and well polished, smooth tannins that flow into a clean cedar-laced black currant finish. It's distinctly international in style, quite approachable, and will drink well with drier grilled meats or roasts.
2 stars

Castello San Donato in Perano Dolce del Castello IGT Bianco Toscana 2007
This is a blend of Semillon and Pinot Bianco, and is lively brassy gold with golden reflections, and has a fresh rich bouquet with plumped white raisins and brown sugar mingling with caramel and hints of oatmeal, but not much acidity. On the palate it's fairly rich, and moderately sweet, with raisin fruit supported more by mineral bitterness than acidity, and it flows into a clean finish in which bitterness gradually takes sway. Distinctive, and a marked change of pace with respect to Vinsanto. If you like this kind of wine you will find it interesting.
2 stars

Bottom Line: Something New, And Interesting, from Gaiole in Chianti!
Want to know More? Their Site.

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