A Quick History of Tuscany, and the Castello della Paneretta 2008 Canaiolo

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As the story goes, the dark skinned grape, Canaiolo, once ruled the Tuscan countryside, serving as the primary element of the Chianti blend, complemented then by the lesser established Sangiovese. With the phylloxera outbreak of the 1800s, the vines of Europe were devastated, and the primary plantings of everywhere were changed. Eventually a solution to the crisis was reached–grafting European vines onto American rootstock. With phylloxera being indigenous to North America, the vines of that continent had developed natural resistance to the plague. Not all European vines took to grafting as well as others, however, and the choice of what to replant became entwined with the ease of grafting.

Canaiolo’s popularity suffered as a result of its disagreement with grafting practices. The vine does better growing on its own roots. With the worry that this would leave it still vulnerable to attack, many grape viticulturists stopped growing the variety and the proportions of the Chianti blend too were shifted. Today, requirements have it that Chianti must contain a predominance of Sangiovese (75 to 100%), with up to 10% Canaiolo, and the possibility of up to 20% other non-Tuscan (Bordeaux) varieties. Canaiolo no longer stands as the King of Chianti. Today it is common for Chianti producers to fill in the remainder of the bottle not taken by Sangiovese with the fuller bodied Bordeaux grape options, producing what would seem a more modern market style of the wine.

Within Tuscany, however, there is also a small dedication to preserving indigenous wine traditions, by continuing to focus on the Tuscan varieties and use of them in the wines native to the area. Enter Paneretta. While many Tuscan wineries were removing old root stock and replanting with Bordeaux varieties, the Elbisetti family that owns Paneretta chose to retain the original Tuscan plants, rooting young vines only when necessary to maintain the health and production level of the overall vineyard.

The Elbisetti family of Castello Della Paneretta produces a portfolio of wines grown native to the Tuscan countryside. Their Chianti Classico relies entirely on a blend of Sangiovese and Canaiolo, and they also bottle a 50/50 blend of the two grapes titled Terrine. Additionally, they produce a 100% Sangiovese varietal, as well as one of the few full Canaiolo varietals in the world. The Paneretta estate showcases one of the largest fields of Canaiolo in Tuscany, growing 4 hectares of its vines.

Castello della Paneretta 2008 Canaiolo

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The Paneretta Canaiolo was hand harvested with only the best grapes selected for fermentation. After two years in new oak, 1500 bottles were produced.

After decanting, and letting it sit for two hours this wine showed a lovely floral and red fruit nose, with a lush balance on the palate of floral elements, red berries, sweet baking spice, and earthiness. The tannin and acidity offer a pleasing balance here with the medium high tannin accompanied by just enough mouth watering acidity to complement.

This is an elegant wine both in nose and texture. I loved its smoothness and light grip, as well as the incredible scents from the glass. There is a lovely balance of flavor and structure here. This is a wine I hope to return to again.

We drank the Canaiolo alongside a lovely Italian dish of thinly sliced eggplant rolled and filled with carrot, light cheese, and tomato. The wine was an excellent pairing to the slightly sweet carrot, the lightly acidic tomato, and the rich cheese plus light crunch of the food. It also did well alongside the plate of charcuterie that accompanied the meal. Thank you to Caleb of Pizzicletta for providing the wonderful food for this tasting!

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4 COMMENTS

  1. This sounds delicious. I love it when varietals typically used to support others in wine get a chance to shine on their own, and show off their character. I’ll look for this wine to try it myself!

  2. Happy to be the importer of Castello della Paneretta wines to Slovakia – just now the 2011 Rosato, 100% Canaiolo in the glas – very nice rosé from this estate…

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