Stefano Bernabei came to Dublin’s Wines on the Green a couple of weeks ago to showcase some of the wines from Domini Castellare di Castellina. Castellare is located just outside the small Chianti town of Castellina, home to many well made Chiantis (Fonterutoli, Rocca delle Macie).

I’d previously gone to a quite a few lengths to get my hands on some Chianti from Castellare, having rented a house a mere stone’s throw from the vineyards a couple of years ago.

Since then, I’ve learned that Castellare has branched out to the Maremma, on the coast of Tuscany and even further to Sicily.

See the video below featuring Stefano’s visit to Wines on the Green, the wine side of The Celtic Whiskey Shop.

A true Super Tuscan

It’s a super Tuscan with true Chianti origins that gets my vote for wine of the week, the I Sodi di San Niccolo’ 2003.

The name is made up of two parts. I Sodi means tough land, difficult to work, and this inhospitable land surrounds the old chapel of St. Niccolo’.

Super Tuscan is a name reserved for wines like Tignanello, Ornellaia and Sassicaia – all splendid, but apart from being  made in Tuscany, they could really be from anywhere, made mainly from the international (or more accurately, Bordeaux) varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and the other usual suspects.

However, with the I Sodi di San Nicollo’ there’s a crucial difference – rather than being made from these “international” varietals, it’s made from Tuscan natives, Sangiovese and black Malvasia . Proof, if any was needed, that the natives are more than capable of making superb wines. It’s a Super Tuscan, in the true meaning of the the term.

Indeed, the Sangiovese is so local, it’s known as Sangioveto, and only grown by Castellare.

What makes the I Sodi di San Nicollo‘ different from normal Chianti Classico is how it’s treated after picking. Specificially, two thirds of it spends 15-30 months in 225 litre barriques and then 12 months in bottle. There’s not a lot of it made either, 2,000 cases in 2003.

And the results speak for themselves. Since its first vintage in 1979, it has twice featured in the Wine Spectator Top 100 and regularly picks up top awards elsewhere.

Grapes: Sangioveto (85%-90%) and Malvasia Nero (10-15%)

Enough already, how does it taste?

The 2003 is going to set you back €50, so I reckon it deserved a bit of foreplay, but now onto the main event.

A deep, dark brooding nose of blackberry and cinnamon leads to a complex, full bodied yet balanced and silky. It’s delicious now but unlike our present government, it should well do with a few more years under its belt. I would have said cellared, but who has a cellar these days?


It’s available from Wines on the Green for the princely sum of €50. If you’ve been abstaining over Lent, then it’s a deserved treat with the lamb on Easter Sunday.