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Castello del Trebbio

by winenews on May.22, 2009, under Reviews

Castello del Trebbio was built as a fortress in the twelfth century for the Pazzi family. Its fame is due to the “Pazzi Conspiracy”, a plot organized by the Pazzi family in 1478 to kill their old enemies Giuliano and Lorenzo de’ Medici. In the fifteenth century ownership transferred to the Medici family who converted it into a villa. The current family purchased it in 1968 and have restored it respecting its history. The estate comprises about 60 hectares of grapes, 10.000 olive trees and native forest, a total of 350 hectares. A tour of the castle and the old wine cellars with wine and olive oil tasting is possible for groups with reservation.  Also part of the estate are apartments for rent by tourists.The cellars date from 1184, with the newest part of the castle being the courtyard that is about 600 years old.  The the current owners’ parents bought the castle in 1968, and after 20 years restoration, both passed away between 1988 and 1990. Only 2 of the 5 children decided to keep the estate and the castle.  One of them, Anna, lives in the castle with her husband Stefano, the winemaker of the company, along with their 3 young children. Anna is responsible for the wine marketing, and for the olive oil and saffron production.

Besides the castle and vineyards, the property includes a private chapel, and small adjoining kitchen.  An unusual fact is that some people are buried here, something not normally done on private grounds.  The local authority gave the children permission to do this.  Inside the chapel was a painting from Andrea del Castagno (XVth century) sold by the last owners before the current owners came. The original frame of the painting is still in the chapel.

The tour of the cellars was hosted by Alberto, and we highly recommend this estate for anyone in the Florence area.  Alberto’s description of the estate, the products produced, and historical knowledge are exemplary.  Although Trebbio is a small winery, the tour is fascinating and the wines we sampled were excellent (for sale at very reasonable prices).  The cellars have a lovely aroma of wine and grapes, plus they produce outstanding olive oil that is pure Tuscan.  Pure Tuscan means that the entire production and all the olives are local.

Due to the very hot, dry summer the harvest this year was 2 weeks early.  But the grapes are smaller and intense, so the 2003 vintage should be outstanding.  The bad news is that the olive harvest was 35-40% below normal.  In the old tradition, Trebbio still does all the picking by hand.

The wine production of Trebbio is about 300,000 bottles per year.  Of that, about 11,000 bottles are Super Tuscan, a blend of 50% sangiovese, 35% merlot, and 15% syrah.  They have named this special blend “Pazzesco” after the Pazzi family (loosely translated means “that’s crazy”).  The balance of the production includes a DOCG Chianti, a Chianti Rufina Reserva, and oak aged Vin Santo.  The special wines (Chianti Rufina Riserva and Pazzesco) are aged for about 14 months in french barriques, special oak barrels used for maximum 3 years and then about 20 months in big oak barrels.  All varieties we sampled were excellent, especially for the price, and the Vin Santo was nice and dry.

We highly suggest you visit the Castle del Trebbio on your next visit to Tuscany.  Tours can be arranged ahead of time through their website, or by contacting them by e-mail.  Many of the area hotels can arrange a visit also.  If you do go, watch out for their “ghost” know as Mario.  He has been working at the castle for 50 years, and reportedly still roams the grounds.  Be sure to ask about him and hear the whole story.  Tell them WineNews.com sent you.


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