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Visiting and understanding Italy’s Chianti region

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Italy’s Chianti region is situated in a relatively small area between Siena and Florence, but don’t let that fool you. These 65 square miles are packed with enough history, tradition, and pride to support, well, a thriving wine industry.

Alberto Albisetti, of Castello della Paneretta winery in the Elsa valley of Tuscany kindly helps us understand the Chianti region and what makes it special.

Alberto, please tell us a little about yourself and your family.

I’m the CEO of the winery together with my mother. In 1984 my family bought the castle. My father was in love with wine since he was very young, and he fell in love with the Castle (Castello della Paneretta) and this area at first sight. He always was fascinated by Sangiovese and Canaiolo [grapes], so he made an important decision to maintain the tradition of the Chianti Classico wines until today. For these reasons we grow exclusively Tuscan grape varieties in the vineyards.

Can you describe what sets apart the Chianti region from other wine-growing regions?

The differences in the soils obviously influence the character of the wines. From these soils, very poor in organic matter, we get full-bodied wines with very intense colours, complex aromas of fruit but also spicy, pleasant tannins that create structure and elegance. Another kind of soil, a white limestone called “alberese,” is more fertile and soluble. It is appropriate for the cultivation of Sangiovese and Canaiolo. Grapes from this type of soil are considered to make wine with an exceptional elegance. And there’s a big difference between Chianti Classico and other Chianti wines. [For more information, please see the companion article Chianti Classico v. other Chianti wines]

What is the benefit of actually visiting a wine producer?

Visitors can live the experience and appreciate even more the wine, because they can understand how the wine is produced and live for one hour a little taste of Italian history

What should people look for when shopping for high-quality Chianti in Italy or the USA?

It’s important to look for wineries that not only bottle, but also produce their own wine. For instance, we keep to traditional production methods. All Castello della Paneretta grapes are handpicked and the wines are refine in French oak barrels (Allier) in our ancient cellar. And when consumers buy, they should think that they are buying, too, a little piece of the history of that particular winemaker. Our wine is the result of the passion of all the people who work in our winery.

What is the most popular selling wine at Castello della Paneretta?

Our biggest sellers are Terrine, Quattrocentenario, and Torre a Destra.

What is your personal favorite Paneretta wine? Why?

Quattrocentenario, because it has structure; it’s a smooth wine with soft tannins. But for me, the most important thing is that it was the favorite wine of my father who was the inventor of this special wine.

Please take a moment to tell us what special services Paneretta offers.

One of our best offers is a private tour where we give our customers all our attention so that they’ll always remember the wonderful experience of visiting us. At Paneretta, passion meets history. We also have three beautiful apartments here at the castle. In addition, our prices for our USA customers are door-to-door--that means wine, shipping and duty are included.

Thank you for your time, Alberto!

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