Castello di Gabbiano
2000 Alleanza - Super Tuscan
What we say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes greater than great, as is the case with today’s wine from Castello di Gabbiano.
Mission Codename: Holy Alliance
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Penetrate the 12th century estate of world-famous Castello di Gabbiano to reveal a wine forged of a unique partnership between wine legend (and Winemaster) Ed Sbragia and 30 year Italian winemaker Gioancarlo Roman
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Castello di Gabbiano
Wine Subject: 2000 Alleanza
Winemaster and Winemaker: Respectively, Ed Sbragia and Giancarlo Roman
Backgrounder: As International Wine Agents of Intrigue, Wine Spies Agents often find themselves on missions around the Wine World. While enjoying a meal while on a recent mission to Tuscany, Agent Red paid for a glass of white wine, but was served a glass of red wine. Rather than send it back, Agent Red decided to give it a swirl. He loved it. Was this wine delivered to his table on purpose, a part of a clever ruse, or an honest mistake? Read the mission report below to find out.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – When swirled, this wine has great clarity. As it settles it reveals a deep and dense heart of dark garnet. The surface has a bouncy quality and the wine grows legs that are among the slowest-moving I haveever seen
Smell – Deeply aromatic with an initial burst of dark plum, followed by perfumed black cherry with tobacco, nutmeg, smoked fig jam, licorice, oak, forest floor and a hint of vanilla.
Feel – Tight, cool and round in the mouth, this wine coats the tongue and drys the tongue and roof of the mouth with a grippy and slightly stringy feeling that I love in classic-style wines
Taste – An abundance flavors exist in layers in this rich and full-bodied wine; I get ripe plum, dark berry, cedar bark, toasted cocoa, black cherry and Strawberry Jell-O.
Finish – Long and drying with lingering flavors of plum, cherry and dark chocolate
Conclusion – This is a very enjoyable wine that is a delight to ‘pick apart’ and discuss as you swirl and sip. Its rich flavors and aromas make for a heady drinking experience and the balanced acidity in this wine lends itself to a wide array of feed pairings. I enjoyed my first glass on its own, my second with a slice of authentic Italian-style pizza. If you have never had a Super Tuscan and have relegate your drinking of Italian wines to Chianti, I recommend that you try this wine. Where Chianti wines can be somewhat limited in scope, the lack of constraints in blending a Super Tuscan (Chianti and Chianti Classico have legal restrictions on how the wines are made) allow the winemaker to get more creative. This wine blends together 50% Sangiovese (a primary component of Chianti) with 40% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon – for a masterful wine from two masterful winemakers.
You read the backgrounder above, so I’ll skip the preamble and get straight to the core of this impromptu mission:
After sampling this mis-delivered wine – and practically falling in love with it – I dashed to the kitchen. Upon entering I was greeted by the familiar grinning face of Francesco (first seen in Wine Spies mission The Accidental Wineist, September 2007). There he stood, smiling ear-to-ear, holding two bottles from producer Castello di Gabbiano.
In heavily accented, old but spry Francesco said, “You like this, no?”
“I like”, I replied.
I paid my bill and we headed across the piazza to a favorite safehouse here in Milan, a small bottle shop where Francesco frequently delivers wine on his rounds.
Owner Filipo was pleased to see us, giving us each the accustomed double peck on the cheeks and ushering us into the private back room of his store.
There, we opened the bottles and spent the next three hours examining, discussing and, most of all, enjoying the wine. Both exhibit quality beyond their low prices and both are superb and smoothly balanced wines that I recommend with great gusto.
The Alleanza, today’s wine exhibits greater character and more a concentrated feel and flavor profile, while the Bellezza – our Double Agent wine when this Alleanza sells out – tasted and feels somewhat younger and less serious. That said, however, both wines are exceptional!
At the end of the evening, I surmised that Francesco and Filipo had set me up. They knew that I would fall in love with this wine and they knew that I would set about to procure some for our Operatives.
I was only able to secure a limited number of cases, so be sure to grab some before your fellow Operatives do.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Castello di Gabbiano can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
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Awards & Accolades:
Wine Spectator – Rated 88 – A solid red with plum and cherry character, firm tannins and fresh acidity. Full-bodied, with a fresh finish. October 31, 2004
Wine News – Rated 88 – Rich aromas of fig, blackberry, pencil shavings and brown sugar. Flavors of tart cherry, coffee and cedar drop off a bit in the mouth. Drying finish. Oct/Nov 2005
The 12th century estate of Castello di Gabbiano is located in the heart of the Chianti Classico region in Tuscany. This 252-acre estate of vineyards and olive groves is nestled within the rolling hillsides near the San Casciano, Val di Pesa township, just south of Florence. The winery is equipped with a modern fermentation cellar, yet the wines are still crafted in the rich and ancient Tuscan winemaking tradition by Giancarlo Roman, winemaker for Castello di Gabbiano.
The Alleanza is the product of a joint winemaking partnership by Ed Sbragia, Winemaster for California’s Beringer Vineyards and Giancarlo Roman, Winemaker for Tuscany’s Castello di Gabbiano. Ed contributed his expertise in using French barrique, deciding when and how long the wine should age, while Giancarlo, with over 30 years of experience making classic Tuscan wines, provided his expertise with Sangiovese.
The fruit for the 2000 Alleanza was sourced from the best vineyards on the Castello di Gabbiano estate. The growing season began with a dry winter, followed by a spring of intermittent sun and rain. A sunny summer with little rain resulted in high-quality fruit of color and flavor. The juice was fermented in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures of 28-32°C (about 82-89°F) with 15 days of skin maceration, followed by 23 days of 100% malolactic fermentation. The wine was aged 16 months in a combination of new and seasoned French barrique, and then released after six months of bottle aging.
The deep ruby red Alleanza 2000 is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 40% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of violets and black cherries with fragrant hints of nutmeg, tobacco and licorice fill the nose. Balanced and full-bodied, this wine displays a fresh acidity plus flavors of ripe plums and vanilla. Soft, round tannins give way to a long, satisfying finish with just a hint of toasted cocoa. Enjoy with braised meats, roasted game dishes, as well as aged cheeses.
Perhaps no region of the world personifies the warmth and graciousness of good food and great wine more completely than Tuscany. Its sunny slopes, medieval towns, and rich cultural history provide an irresistible setting for such inviting cuisine and wines.
Throughout its colorful history, Tuscany has been a land of important artists and scientists, talented and forward-thinking merchants, and powerful politicians. Its castles, culture, and natural wonders make it a unique and memorable destination for millions of tourists every year.
Tuscany’s museums, sights, and edible delights are unsurpassed. A special mystique and light envelops this region of Italy, distinct from anywhere else in Europe.
Castello di Gabbiano has been a part of the Tuscan countryside for nearly a millenium. The castle has been the home and refuge of distinguished Florentine families and its past role in Tuscan life and intrigue could easily fill many pages of a history book. Indeed, Castello di Gabbiano is a Tuscan tradition.
Acidity: 0.57 g/100ml
Harvest Date: September-October 2000