CAPANNELLE -THE HISTORY
The history of Capannelle wine producing started in 1975 when Raffaele Rossetti, a 40 year old business man leading in a laminated plastics firm and with previous experience at Enrico Mattei’s ENI, decided to buy an old XVI century farmhouse in the heart of Chianti. Situated high on a hill looking over the market town of Gaiole in Chianti, the farmhouse is surrounded by 10,5 hectares of land.
The birth of a wine estate
Work was immediately started on the planting of a specialised vineyard, after detailed analysis of the soil in order to identify the best clonable grape varieties – the only types used at Capannelle; Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Colorino, Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianca. Near the vineyard an olive grove was planted; 2 Ha of ‘leccino’, ‘moraiolo’ and ‘frantoiano’ varieties.
Since then, the farmhouse has also been radically renovated. Structural interventions and considerable restoration have removed almost every trace of its peasant origins. Some of the innovations include a wine-tasting hall and a professional marble and stainless steel kitchen where occasionally, famous chefs enjoy combining their culinary art with Capannelle wines.
The Wine Cellar
Below the farmhouse an especially modern cellar was added. Floors and fixtures in klinker, fermentation vats and pipelines in stainless steel, have made Capannelle the most modern and innovative wine cellar in Chianti, with hygiene and attention to detail being one of its many strong points.
The first bottle
In 1975, Capannelle made its first production bearing the name of the farmhouse. A brilliant experiment, which was to bring the company to stand highly amongst the quality producers. Rossetti’s goal was to express to its highest degree, the potential of Sangiovese which bring to the production of a Supertuscan with the appellation of table Wine.
In 1977 the first french barrique appeared. An interesting experiment which, in a short time, made Capannelle Barrique a true cult amongst wine lovers.
In 1986 another 2 hectares of vineyard were bought, adjoining the property, which took production from 14.000 to 20.000 bottles a year.
In 1986 experiments on the white wine began. Chardonnay variety was grafted to the base of the Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianca vines. So in 1988 Capannelle’s Chardonnay was born, fermented and refined in barrique.
The 50&50 idea
The 1988 wine harvest was exceptional in Tuscany. This event encouraged Raffaele Rossetti to put into action a plan to combine Capannelle’s Sangiovese and a Merlot cultivated in Tuscany. Rossetti chose Merlot produced by two brothers; Alberto and Ettore Falvo, owners of Avignonesi of Montepulciano and a great red wine emerged; 50&50, an equal part blend of Capannelle Sangiovese and Avignonesi Merlot.
The success of 50&50 lead to more experiments with new vines.After many cuttings and micro-vinifications, Malvasia Nera gave the best results in terms of quality and typicalness. In 1996, Capannelle’s Solare (a combination of Sangiovese and Malvasia Nera) replaced Capannelle’s Barrique, bearing the name already used in 1990 for a special production bottled for Giorgio Pinchiorri.
The arrival of Sherwood
In August of 1997, James B. Sherwood, President and major shareholder in the Sea Container Group / Orient-Express (now Belmond Hotels) bought Capannelle. However, Raffaele Rossetti, founder and creator of this special wine, continues to participate in the business as consultant, flanked by his wine expert since 1984, Simone Monciatti.
Despite being one of the most innovative and quality conscious firms, it was known only to a tight circle of wine lovers. 80 % of sales were to private clients and the rest to a few restaurant owners/friends. Sherwood’s idea is to change Capannelle’s commercial strategy, without altering the philosophy on production. An immediate growth of the company is planned in order to build a more significant presence in Italy and abroad.
The Trebbio Vineyard
In January 1998 the “Trebbio” vineyard was bought; 7 hectares of vineyard about 1 km from Capannelle on the opposite side to Gaiole. The soil is particularly rich and varied and allows cultivating various clones of Sangiovese, Malvasia Nera and Chardonnay. It goes without saying that a small section is left to experimentation. 4.400 vines are planted per hectare with double posts. With this new vineyard, production will reach 80.000 bottles (once the older vineyards have been replanted).
The particularly good position, soil composition and considerable drainage work (10 km of underground pipes) have given rise to excellent quality results.
The Vallone Vineyard
In October 2003 the “Vertine” vineyard was bought; 2,3 hectares about 500 mt. From Capannelle.
With the growth in vineyards, the cellar has grown too. Difficult excavation work in the rock behind the already existing cellar has enlarged it from 600 to 1050 sq.m with no impact on the environment.
Stainless steel technology
50% of wine quality comes from excellent grapes whilst 50% is the result of a technical process and the latter must be of the highest standard, applied in ideal conditions of tidiness and hygiene. For this reason, Capannelle has chosen stainless steel, the only material that does not alter the aromas in the wine. All the containers are linked by stainless steel pipelines with lever valves: even the flexible piping for occasional connections are in stainless steel as is all the equipment that comes into contact with the wine.
Fermentation and refinement in wood
Since 1998 all the wines have been aged in oak cone-shaped vats in rooms with of constantly controlled temperature. Both fermentation and refinement take place in wood. The vats and barrels have a capacity of less than 30 hectolitres, and are replaced every 6-8 years. The 225 litre barrique (barrels from the Massif Central in France) used for Solare and 50&50, are replaced every two years. The whole cellar is air and temperature conditioned, whilst the barrique room, dug 40 metres in length into the rock, benefits from a naturally controlled humidity and temperature level.
Refinement in bottles
Particular attention is paid to bottle refinement. After bottling in the estate, at least 18 months go by before any one vintage appears on the market. This refinement takes place in boxes of unbreakable crystal with controlled humidity and temperature. The glass avoids the forming of fungus, mould or bacteria which could corrode the corks.
For the vintage wines and the conservation of vintage series for the more demanding clients, a protected “Caveau” has been especially made to store 8.000 bottles. The humidity and temperature are constantly checked with a certified instrument. Weekly graphs are kept on the estate’s records in order to keep track of storage conditions.
Thanks to the hygiene and health standards applied to its modern technology, Capannelle’s cellars are amongst the most modern in Europe and one of the first producers to obtain the highest quality certification in accordance with Italian regulations that safeguard hygiene of premises and authenticity of foodstuffs.
Inside the house, a new wine-tasting hall has been set up next to the kitchen and dining room where an ancient table more than 5 metres long is used for traditional Capannelle events of wine-tasting combined with menus proposed by great chefs.
In 2003, five rooms of the farmhouse, originally used as guest rooms, were transformed into exclusive accommodation offered by the CAPANNELLE WINE RESORT for special Chianti breaks.
Guided tours and wine tasting
By appointment only, it is possible to visit the cellars, followed by the tasting of wine and oil.
Total size: 35 Hectares
Vineyards: 16 Hectares
Olive groves: 2 Hectares
Woodland: 2 Hectares
Total production: 80.000 bottles per year
Agronomist and Wine-Maker: Simone Monciatti
Marketing and sales: Manuele Verdelli
Gaiole in Chianti is 70 km from Florence and 35 km from Siena. Easily reached from Florence airport (70 km)or Pisa airport (170 km). By car from the A1 motorway, take the Valdarno exit, follow the SS408 towards Siena to Gaiole (25 km) or from Siena take the SS408 in the direction of Montevarchi (35 km).
Rosato: 100% Sangiovese fermented in stainless steel. Production: 5.000 bottles.
Chardonnay: 100% Chardonnay fermented in stainless steel and 20% refined in barrique for 6 months. On the market after 8 months of bottle refinement. Production 12.000 bottles.
Chianti Classico Riserva: 100% Sangiovese, fermented in stainless steel and then refined for 18 months in large barrels. On the market, after 14 months of bottle refinement. Production 30.000 bottles.
Solare Capannelle: 80% Sangiovese, 20% Malvasia Nera Toscana, fermented in 30 hectolitre oak, cone-shaped vats and refined for 12 months in barrique. On the market after 24 months of bottle refinement. Production 20.000 bottles.
50&50: 50% Sangiovese produced at Capannelle, 50% Merlot, fermented in 30 hectolitre oak, cone-shaped vats and refined 12 months in barrique. On the market, after 12 months of bottle refinement. Production 20.000 bottles.
Extra virgin olive oil: Frantoio, Moraiolo, Coreggiolo, cold pressed and unfiltered.
Grappa of Chianti Classico: Production 2.000 bottles (1 litre)
The firm is continuing to be present in the top quality restaurants and wine shops on all markets. The sales are divided between:
On request of the client, and for good vintage wines the bottles are personalised with labels produced in real silver and gold. The paper labels can also be personalised on the back as well as the wooden box containers, which can be fire branded with names, dates, places etc.
The quality of wine refining is reflected both in the size and the relationship between the wine and wood as well as the age of the barrel used. As a matter of fact after some years the wood loses most of its aromatic tannins and has to be replaced. This is Capannelle’s policy and barrels are replaced every 15 years and each barrique every 3 years. The capacity of the barrels and vats is never more than 30 hectolitres.
The “Caveau” and The Vintage series
From every harvest, about 8.000 bottles are kept aside for numerous clients who collect vintage series. This method is growing and improving with the opening of the “Caveau” where 8000 bottles of Capannelle wine’s can be stored in personalised spaces. Restaurateurs, hoteliers and mere wine lowers can have at their disposal one of the 40 boxes available. The quantity of bottles agreed will be added each year.The humidity and temperature are constantly checked with a certified instrument. Weekly graphs are kept on the estate’s records in order to keep track of storage conditions.
Capannelle boasts a specially selected clientele including prestigious restaurants, hotels and some of the best wine and food shops as well as.