Casale Falchini is an estate winery in the San Gimignano region of Tuscany in Italy. It produces Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG whites, and red wine under the Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG. It also makes a Vin Santo del Chianti DOC. Falchini’s main market is the USA.

Background: The old ‘casale’ or farmhouse was once inhabited by friars. The estate was converted by Riccardo Falchini when he arrived here in 1964 from Prato (he was a construction engineer and building contractor). From 1968 vineyards were planted–Falchini got his Sangiovese and Vernaccia budwood not from Rauscedo but from a grower called del Ministro. In 1976 the old clay-walled sharecropper’s cellar was replaced with something more modern (and earthquake proof) after a meeting with Giacomo Tachis (Tachis needed to expand Antinori’s winery and Falchini bid for the contract but even though he did not get it, due to Antinonri needing it done super-quick, the two men became friends. Tachis suggested Falchini get temperature control and stainless steel and should avoid botti and make the cellar earthquake proof. At the time Tachis was just a winery director and was yet to become renowned, and Tachis appreciated the fact that Falchini listened to him). In 1976 working with new barrels (rather than botti) and temperature control was very unusual at the time. But it helped ensure that  these were the first Vernaccias to get into the US, Japanese and Australia markets.

Vineyards: The Falchini estate is at 300m (Richards Walford). | 2008 ’40ha of land in total, of which 35ha are always in production. Volume has decreased slightly as, while the 4.5ha of land purchased in 1999 has now come into production, the family are in the process of grubbing up and replanting other vines. The Chianti Colli Senesi comes from the Colombaia vineyard. Red grapes also come from the Camporaiolo vineyard. A new vineyard (not yet registered in Feb 2005) called Savomaia is being developed,’ (Richards Walford vintage report). | 2019 On both sides of the town of San Gimignano itself, one of which is in Località Casale.

Vintage reports: 2002 ‘The Falchini family sacrificed 30% of their crop, picking grape by grape in the vines. The whites seemed very good; ripe and clean,’ (Richards Walford). | 2003 Riccardo Falchini has now been running this vineyard outside San Gimignano for 40 years. In 2002, he harvested between 9th September and 7th October; in 2003 between 25th August and 25th September. The Chardonnay, picked first, came in at 13/13.5°, the Vernaccia at 12° (normally 11.5°) and the last pickings (ripasso) of Sangiovese at 14.5/15%. There were, however, no drought related problems: the lake remained full all summer and the deep rooting systems of the old vines, allied to the cool nights ensured excellent quality. As Riccardo said, the Etruscans knew what they were doing when they settled here,’ (Richards Walford). | 2004 ‘The 2004 vintage was difficult here as the sun was reluctant to come out during the day, and the nights were very cold. As a result, the grapes had to be picked at various stages to allow them to reach optimum ripeness,’ (Richards Walford). | 2006 ‘The 2006 vintage was excellent for Falchini, with an almost perfect harvest. The temperature was not scorching, as it was in the previous two years [this contradicts the report for 2004], so the wines produced are elegant and intense, with a noticeable purity of fruit,’ (Richards Walford). | 2007 ‘The Falchinis described 2007 as their best vintage ever, with no problems of drought or extreme temperatures. The harvest started at the end of August with the Chardonnay and finished in early October with the Vin Santo,’ (Richards Walford). | 2008 ‘An excellent vintage here,’ (Richards Walford).

Sparkling wines

Brut Millesimato, Flatten: A sparkling Vernaccia fizz project begun in 1979. This wine is not DOC. Blend of Vernaccia, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. NV (1999) Disgorged in 2004. Lovely rich biscuit and crispness and balance (Visit 15th Feb 2005).

White wines

Toscana Bianco, Selva d’Oro2002 60% Chardonnay & 40% Vernaccia. More Chardonnay than usual in the blend. | 2003 60% Vernaccia, 40% Chardonnay. A rich vintage which is reflected in the style of the wine. | 2004 60% Vernaccia & 40% Chardonnay. | 2005 60% Vernaccia & 40% Chardonnay. | 2006 Vernaccia-Chardonnay blend.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG, Falchini: Now called Vigna al Solatio. | 2010 ‘Considerable rain in May and June. But July and August were warm, although the harvest was still later than usual. Production of this wine was down by about 10-15% (Richards Walford).

Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG, Vigna a Solatio: Vigna a Solatio means a “sunny site”. This was a Riserva with some over-ripe grapes until 2010 when it became the basic Vernaccia. | 2003 Ripe honey and varnish nose, intense; width to the fruit, very distinctive (Visit 15th Feb 2005). | 2009 6,000 bottles. Very fresh, nice twist (Anteprima 2013). | 2011 Good texture (Anteprima 2013). | 2012 Even, creamy notes behind the fruit (Anteprima 2013). | 2017 14%. 100,000 bottles. <2g|l RS. 100% stainless steel. No MLF. Soft approachable style, their best wine, the oaked wines below do not really work for me.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG, Ab Vinea Doni: From the family’s best Vernaccia vineyard, this undergoes partial fermentation in barrel and spends a little time on the lees. Theoretically, the wine is a Riserva as it ages in oak, but the Falchinis do not apply for the classification as they then would have to delay its release for 6 months.The name is Latin for ‘a gift from the vineyards’. | 2001 90% Vernaccia, 10% Chardonnay Aged in new oak. | 2002 90% Vernaccia, 10% Chardonnay. Barrel fermented. Bright gold colour; creamy and fresh; plenty of width and zip and creamy fruit, with honey and varnish too (Visit 15th Feb 2005). | 2003 90% Vernaccia, 10% Chardonnay. | 2004 90% Vernaccia, 10% Chardonnay. | 2005 Slightly less Chardonnay than usual (10% Chardonnay usually) to prevent the wine becoming too buttery. | 2006 95% Vernaccia, 5% Chardonnay. | 2007 95% Vernaccia, 5% Chardonnay. | 2008 95% Vernaccia, 5% Chardonnay. | 2009 95% Vernaccia, 5% Chardonnay. | 2010 Quite exotic with a hint of vanilla (Anteprima 2013). | 2011 Barrel fermented with 40% new wood and 60% old (all 225 French). Good weight at the Vernaccia Anteprima 17 Feb 2013. | 2016 Barrel fermented. No MLF. 4m in oalder oak which was well integrated (Anteprima 2019) .

Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Riserva, Vigna a Solatio: See above for the meaning of the name. | 2010 Very rich, concentrated, lots of depth (Anteprima 2013). Oaked. £15-29.99. Pronounced colour, creamy, ripe nose with plenty of butter cream, attractive oiliness and depth. 17 points. Silver at DWWA 2nd May 2013. | 2014 13.5%. Creamy (Anteprima 2019). | 2015 8m in oak, 10-20% new. 14%. Tasted odd at the 2019 Anteprima.

Red wines

Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG, Flatten80% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo & Malvasia Nera unless otherwise stated. | 2007 90% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo & Malvasia Nera. |  2008 95% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot. | 2009 95% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot.

Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG, Titolato Colombaia2003 80% Sangiovese,10% Canaiolo, 10% other grapes. Soft easy fruit and cedar for easy drinking; richly textured but easy weight (Visit 15th Feb 2005). | 2010 TCA, or funk on first bottle, second was fizzy. 12 Points. Commended at DWWA 3rd May 2013.

Toscana Rosso, Falchini | Mainly Cabernet Sauvignon plus a dash of Sangiovese.

Toscana Rosso, Campora1985 Cabernet Sauvignon and a bit of Merlot. French oak. Debut from vines planted in 1980 with help from Giacomo Tachis who was instrumental in the Falchinis obtaining a grant from the University of Pisa for experimental vines. | 1997 Very good style of Cabernet Sauvignon as can feel the grapes are ripe and well selected and that the ferm has not been stretched and that there is not too much wood either (Visit 15th Feb 2005). | 1998 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot. Very sweet fruit, ripe tannins, big wine; blackcurrants (Visit 15th Feb 2005). I 1999 85% Cabernet Sauvignon & 15% Merlot. Very exotic, rich, plum and black fruit, lots of depth; nice almost new world style but still fresh (Visit 15th Feb 2005). Corked with Don and Lindsay Monday 21 Feb 2004. | 2000 85% Cabernet Sauvignon & 15% Merlot. | 2001 95% Cabernet, 5% Merlot. | 2003 95% Cabernet, 5% Merlot. | 2004 95% Cabernet, 5% Merlot.

Toscana Rosso, Paretaio1999 90% Sangiovese & 10% Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot. | 2000 100% Sangiovese aged in French oak barrels. Clear style with coherent Sangiovese flavours plus soft rich cedar and blackcurrant but not aggressive tannins (Visit 15th Feb 2005). | 2001 90% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. | 2003 95% Sangiovese & 5% Merlot. | 2004 95% Sangiovese & 5% Merlot. 12m in 3 yr old French barrels. | 2005 95% Sangiovese & 5% Merlot.

Vin Santo

Vin Santo del Chianti DOC, Podere Casale: The grapes for Falchini’s Vin Santo are hand-harvested and then dried until December/January in three areas of the winery before pressing. Fermentation takes place in up to eight different types of barrel from different woods, of differing size, including chestnut, cherry and bourbon barrels from the old US military base near Pisa called Camp Darby; the first barrel used may have come from the 1968 harvest at Sassicaia via the oenologist Giacomo Tachis who was working for Falchini whilst also working at Sassicaia). After fermentation, they are stored in three different areas, one in a roof-space and two in different cellars for four years before they are blended and bottled. | 1997 60% Trebbiano & 40% Malvasia; hand picked and dried, then raised oxidatively in a mixture of barrels, including Cherry, for 4 years (Richards Walford Vintage Reports). | 1998 50% Malvasia, 50% Trebbiano. 50cl. Savoury, clean, good level of oxidation (Visit 15th Feb 2005). | 1999 Bottled. | 2000 Bottled. | 2001 Bottled. | 2002 Bottled. | 2004 60% Trebbiano, 40% Malvasia. | 2005 60% Trebbiano, 40% Malvasia.

Contact

Casale Falchini

Loc. Casale, I-53037 San Gimignano (SI), Italy

Tel+39 0577 941305 (winery) or 0574.28123 (office)

Bibliography

Richards Walford Vintage Reports

Visit to the winery on Tuesday 15th Feb 2005