The mercurial moods of New Yorkers stuck in traffic on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge* would brighten tremendously if a delicious bottle of Castello di Verrazzano wine awaited them at their destination. In 1524 Giovanni da Verrazzano became the first European explorer to sail into New York Harbor and the bridge named in his honor opened in 1964. Alas, you can't take his namesake bridge to Tuscany but you can take your palate on an Italian adventure and drink history with Castello di Verrazzano - their wines are produced at the Tuscan estate at Greve in Chianti where the famed explorer was born.
Located in the heart of the Chianti Classico area, between Florence and Siena, Castello di Verrazzano has its roots as an Etruscan and then a Roman settlement. The property was acquired by the Verrazzano family in the 7th century and the present day owners, the Cappellini family, acquired the estate in 1958. Castello di Verrazzano is a founding member of the Consorzio del Chianti Classico and the estate is certified organic.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Silvia and Luigi Giovanni Cappellini to learn more about the wines of Castello di Verrazzano and the estate's astounding history. Truly a family affair, their daughters Maria Chiara and Maria Sole, and Luigi's dynamic 90 year old mother Clara are all vital parts of the business. Passionate and devoted to nurturing the legacy of the estate, Luigi said, "I am very Verrazzano. My name is Cappellini but we are Verrazzano."
Watch the video to hear directly from Silvia and Luigi about what it's like to work together, how the estate's limestone rich terroir makes their wines special, food pairings, and their commitment to providing guests with an authentic Tuscan experience. We even discussed Luigi's signature bow ties - he's the president of the Bow Tie Academy! The video features two Castello di Verrazzano wines: Chianti Classico 2013 and Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Sassello 2011 (only produced in the best vintages.)
Chianti Classico DOCG 2013 ($26)
95% Sangiovese with 5% Canaiolo, this is a beautiful expression of a classic Chianti. Luigi describes it as having power and finesse. The family considers themselves "the Templars of Sangiovese" and this wine elegantly demonstrates their commitment to preserving the integrity of Tuscany's signature grape.
Sassello Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2011 ($79)
100% Sangiovese, Sassello is only produced in the best vintages from a small vineyard at the very top of the hill. The wine is named after the Sassello bird which flies around looking for the best grapes. When you see these birds hovering around your grapes, you know they're superb! Sassello is a really nuanced and balanced wine that is infinitely drinkable. The prestigious Gran Selezione designation represents the very top of the Chianti quality pyramid.
If you're planning a trip to Tuscany, Castello di Verrazzano welcomes visitors for tours, wine tastings, overnight stays, and meals featuring food from their farm. Their restaurant in Florence, Cantinetta, serves all of the Castello di Verrazzano wines and farm-to-table cuisine. Luigi calls Cantinetta "the Verrazzano embassy in Florence." They also own a trendy wine & cocktail bar, Spumantino, that overlooks the famed Ponte Vecchio.
Aren't you ready to explore Castello di Verrazzano's wines and Tuscan way of life?
*Only in New York would we name a bridge after someone and misspell the last name! Verrazzano's last name is correctly spelled with two "z's" but the bridge only spells it with one.