Corzano e Paterno
By Andrew Bishop
Sangiovese, and Chianti in particular, has become my recent passion. I’ve noticed the homogenization of Chianti wines here in America, and the assumption that they should all be lumped into one simple category. It seems that the industrial Chianti estates enjoy this and want us to think all Chiantis are the same. But, they really aren’t the same. Chianti wines are produced in the eight sub-zones of Tuscany, and the wines of true quality offer their own unique style particular to place and microclimate. We have been on the hunt for more Chianti, and last year we found Corzano e Paterno. This is a special family and place, and we are truly proud, and excited to represent them.
First of all, the Corzano e Paterno estate is incredibly beautiful, and there is some amazing history here (Corzano history). I will give you the abbreviated version. After falling in love with the area, Wendel Gelpke, a reputable Swiss architect, purchased the Corzano property back in 1969, and then the neighboring property of Paterno in 1974. The estate is located in the Colli Fiorentini, just 14 km south of Florence in the village of San Casciano, in the Val di Pesa. It covers 140 hectares and extends over two slopes with a narrow valley running in between these slopes. Eighteen hectares are planted to vines in clay and limestone soils, and these vineyards lie 300 meters above sea level on steep, stony slopes. The vineyards face south-southwest to form a natural amphitheater, at the foot of which is the Via Cassia (the road parallel to the river Pesa), which separates the Corzano e Paterno estate from the Chianti Classico sub-zone.
Farming on the estate has always been organic, and their Sardinian sheep herd roams the rows to naturally fertilize the vines. The winemaker is Arianna Gelpke (Wendel’s daughter) and the vineyards are managed by Aljoscha Goldschmidt (Wendel’s nephew). Both Arianna and Aljoscha grew up at Corzano e Paterno and worked the harvests since they can remember. The estate produces mainly red wines from Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot; and two white wines (one dry and one sweet) made from Malvasia, Trebbiano, and Chardonnay. The wines are terroir-driven and made very naturally with minimal amounts of sulphur; using only indigenous yeasts, and are unfiltered.
The entire estate is family owned and operated, from the vines, to the sheep, to the cheese. It’s worth mentioning that some of the finest pecorino cheese I have ever tasted is made at Corzano e Paterno. Aljoscha’s wife, Antonia Ballarin (Toni) has been making world class and highly sought after cheeses from their Sardinian sheep since 1992. She makes just enough to supply the shops in Florence and the estate, so don’t bother asking if we can get any (I already tried!). In addition, the estate produces olive oil, and operates two breathtaking Agriturismos on both slopes. The story and family here are pretty amazing, and the wines are too…..
So far we have two wines:
Terre di Corzano Chianti: 90% Sangiovese and 10% Caniolo this is classic and beautiful Chianti which is earthy and full of beautiful fruit. I don’t really feel that more words would make much difference. Just try it for yourself.
Il Corzanello Rosso: Not classified Chianti because it is not a majority Sangiovese. This is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and although still very Tuscan in style, it’s a tad bit international in style. Bigger fruit and a somewhat easier wine for folks who just want a nice quaffer everyday.