Castello di Farnetella is an estate vineyard in the commune of Sinalunga, in the province of Siena, within the Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG. Purchased in 1981 by the Poggiali family, who also own the Fèlsina wine estate in Castelnuovo Berardenga, Castello di Farnetella lies in a very distinctive climate niche, southeast of the Chianti Classico DOCG zone and north of Montalcino, bordering on the growing area for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. It lies wholly within the Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG zone, and thus enjoys a position within the overall geographical confines of the Chianti area. The revival of Farnetella began when Giuseppe Mazzocolin (whose wife is a Poggiali) and Franco Bernabei (the duo responsible for the wines of Fèlsina Berardenga) took control and began bottling the wines.
The name | The toponym Farnetella derives from farnia, the English oak (Quecus robur), which grows in great profusion at Farnetella, particularly at Castelvecchio. The coat-of-arms of both the village and the winery display this oak, against a red background; it symbolises strength and longevity.
History | Going back to its very beginnings in the 5th and 6th centuries AD, Farnetella was located in an elevated location, known as Castelvecchio, above the current village, where an ancient castle also rose. In the Late Middle Ages, the Conti della Berardenga, a noble family with origins in France, held sway. They exhibited more interest than did the Lombards in ensuring open communication links with Rome, and perhaps inspired establishment of the Via Francigena. During the most intense historical vicissitudes of the Republic of Siena (1200-1500), the unique position of Farnetella, on the boundary of the territory it administered, contributed to not a few problems for its inhabitants, who often extended, or more probably were forced to extend, sanctuary to exiles of the opposing political side.
The castle | The Castello too is part of the estate property, with the hamlet of Farnetella extending to its walls. The castle has been destroyed many times, and just as often been rebuilt over the centuries: during the clashes between Florence and Siena, the struggles between the two political factions, the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, and the attempts to gain power by the noble families of the time. The latest reconstruction dates to1889-1903, work of Habsburg descendant Giorgio Antonio Ferrari and his son Adolfo, who had a passion for archaeology and antiquities (his collection of Roman coins was renowned). The initial project involved construction of a grand residence, similar to those of the Sienese noble families; it was to have resembled the ancient castle and to have hosted wealthy friends on vacation there. The project was perhaps too ambitious for its time and for Ferrari’s financial resources, for it remained unfinished. Nevertheless, the huge bulk of the castle and the adjacent village still characterise the present appearance of the village.
Vineyards | 432 hectares of land, of which 56 are planted to vineyard. The estate’s vineyards and olive groves are located near the medieval hamlet, at elevations ranging from 220 to 560 metres. The most representative vineyards, with most eloquently express the qualities of the terroir, are sited high up on a broad, well-exposed plateau beyond the village, at elevations of 520-540 metres. The soils are composed of stratified sandstones, with alluvial lenses and clay mixed with mineral-rich sea-bed sediments, which ensure fine natural fertility.
Beginning in the early 1980s, micro-vinifications were carried out, vineyard by vineyard, with the objective of developing the full potential of sangiovese, the iconic variety of the local growing area, where it conveys impressions of smooth liquorice and anisette. The vineyards were re-structured, by denser planting of vines and by new pruning techniques, in order to reduce the crop per hectare. Massal selection made possible the reproduction and preservation of the superior sangiovese phenotypes, which give Farnetella its unique character in the Sinalunga growing area. International varieties, such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, and chardonnay, grapes have also been planted.
Sauvignon Blanc | Made from 100% sauvignon blanc grapes quality-selected from a vineyard in Farnetella located at an elevation of 550 metres, where this grape variety has found ideal growing conditions.
Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG, Castello di Farnetella | Made predominantly from Sangiovese grapes (plus a bit of Merlot), quality-selected in Farnetella, in the commune of Sinalunga, southeast of Siena and northwest of Montepulciano. The vineyards are almost all southwest-facing, sited on a well-exposed and -ventilated bench, at elevations of between 220 and 560 metres. The soils are layered sand and silt, with some presence of clay, and larger percentages of rock and limestone. | 2002 Lovely weight of fruit, ripe, good texture plus good use of new oak with Marcel at Via San Quirico in Dec 2004. Bought for €5.50 in a small shop in Siena.
Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG Riserva, Castello di Farnetella | Made from Sangiovese grapes, with small amounts of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, from grapes grown in the vineyards of Farnetella, in the commune of Sinalunga, in the Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG zone. The vineyards are sited on a broad, well-exposed hill at elevations ranging between 400-470 metres. The soils are layered sand and silt, with some clay, and larger presences of rock and limestone, mostly galestro.
Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG, Poggio Granoni | Usually 70% sangiovese, 30% cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah. Grapes, grown in the Poggio Granoni micro-zone at Farnetella in the commune of Sinalunga. The vineyards are at 500-540 metres. Layered soils of sand and silt. Poggio Granoni is the fruit of many years of efforts to fully develop the potential of non-indigenous grape varieties, as complementing varieties to Sangiovese. 1998 | Not made.
I Nero di Nubi | Made 100% from Pinot noir grapes grown in a 2.5-hectare vineyard sited on the highest part of Farnetella, at an elevation of 550 metres. Nero di Nubi is made from French clones planted in 1986 on a historic parcel of land in Chianti Colli Senesi. The soils are predominantly sand and silt, with abundant rock and limestone.
Syrah | Made 100% from syrah grapes, selected from the highest section of the Farnetella hill, at 500-540 metres’ elevation
The intention of the winery to exploit the potential of the most widely-used international (non-indigenous) varieties as well led to a research program to identify the clones most suited to the various vineyards and then to carry out graftings and replantings. The history of syrah at Farnetella began with French clones, utilised in the 1980s. The soils are well-drained, warm, and slightly acidic, largely sand and silt, with some presence of clay.
Castello di Farnetella
Fraz Farnetella, Strada Siena-Bettolle Km 37
I-53048 Sinalunga (SI = Siena), Italy
Castello di Farnetella
Via del Chianti, 101
I-53019 Castelnuovo Berardenga (SI = Siena), Italy
Tel+39 0577 355117.