Castello Romitorio is an estate winery in Montalcino in Tuscany, Italy. The castle (‘Castello’) dates from the fourteenth-century. The estate produces the following wines: Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Rosso di Montalcino DOC and Sant’Antimo Rosso DOC in Montalcino, plus Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG and Morellino di Scansano DOCG.
Contact: Filippo Chia is executive director of Castello Romitorio and son of founder Sandro Chia.
Owner: Sandro Chia. Sandro Chia was born in Florence on April 20, 1946. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence in 1969. Widely travelled, he lived in both New York and Italy. In 1984 he bought Castello Romitorio in the Montalcino region of Tuscany from Baron Giorgio Franchetti. Chia restored the ruined buildings and created a winery with guidance from Carlo Ferrini as consultant.
Consultant: Carlo Ferrini.
History: Roman origins The foundations of Castello Romitorio probably date back to Roman times, perhaps as a prison for deserting Christian soldiers. This was a period of growing economy and trade, helped by the position of Val d’Orcia (see Orcia DOC), and crossed by three navigable rivers; the Ombrone, the Arbia and the Orcia. Archaeological remains reveal evidence of wine and honey production, on which the local economy was based.
The Castle became a monastery until at least the 12th century, when disputes between Florence and Siena began. Because of its strategic position at the centre of the transport routes between the coast and central Italy, and between the north and south of the peninsula, it was then fortified. Construction of the present massive, solitary building flanked by a small chapel, dates back to the 14th century. Montalcino, and the system of fortifications of which Castello Romitorio was a part, was always proud of its autonomy. When it surrendered to the Medici in 1559, Montalcino was Italy’s last free township. The first written mentions of Brunello wine, with which Montalcino’s defenders ‘reddened their faces’, date from this time.
Modern era: Restored as a manor house and patrician villa in the 19th century, Castello Romitorio was abandoned in the Second World War, and remained uninhabited for many years. After being a shelter for shepherds and their flocks, in the seventies it became the property of Baron Giorgio Franchetti, a luminary of the art world and restorer of historic buildings. Having been unable to complete his plans for restoration and further development, the Baron sold the castle as a ruin to Sandro Chia in 1984.
Castello Romitorio’s second life began in 1984, the year it was bought by artist Sandro Chia, who made the old manor his home and art studio. As well as the Castle, Chia took over the vineyards, holm oak woods and heathland. The objective was immediately apparent – Romitorio could only shine once more if, after renovation of the Castle, its ancient affinity with winegrowing was also revived.
Castello Romitorio inaugurated its new cellar in 2005. The 14th century manor was adorned with the works of Sandro Chia, designed to blend the avant-garde with a thousand years of history and antiquity. In the same year Sandro’s son, Filippo Chia, joined the company and started a process of profound renewal of the wines and winemaking style, betting on extremely elegant single varietal Sangiovese to embody the characteristics of the terroir.
Roman origins: Castello Romitorio takes its name from the massive twelfth-century fortress (said to have been built in a single night with the magical assistance of a saint) that sits atop a hill surrounded by thick oak forest in northwestern Montalcino. Its name suggests that the edifice served multiple uses throughout its history, probably as fortress as well as monastery (there is said to be a large underground escape tunnel). Abandoned in the 1950’s its rebirth as a winery occurred in 1984 when internationally famous artist Sandro Chia acquired the estate from his friend Baron Giorgio Franchetti. The first wine bottled under Sandro Chia and his friend Carlo Vittori was the 1987. The restoration of ‘Castello Romitorio’ began immediately, followed by the transformation of its overgrown lands into vineyards, and the construction of a cellar on the Castle’s ground floor..
Estate vineyards (2): 178 hectares of land. Two vineyards comprising 15 hectares of which 8ha of Sangiovese is for Brunello.
–Castello Romitorio Vineyard: In the north-west. 8ha of Sangiovese for Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino plus 2ha of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The first parcels of Sangiovese where planted in 1984 on the slopes adjacent to the Castello Romitorio. At the time it was considered an extreme decision to plant vineyards in Montalcino at such a high altitude, in retrospect with summer temperatures rising it has proven to also be a wise decision that produce and elegant grape.
–Poggio di Sopra Vineyard: Bought in 1995. 8ha of Sant’Antimo DOC vines on a hill site below Monte Amiata in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, south-east of Montalcino. Sangiovese, Cabernet, Canaiolo and other grapes. Near the Abbey of Sant’Antimo. This was subsequently sold to the Poggio di Sotto estate in Montalcino.
Winery: New underground cellar completed in 2007.
Toscana, Rosso Il Toro: Cabernet, Syrah, Petit Verdot. French oak.
Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG: Red.
Morellino di Scansano DOCG, Ghiacchioforte: The vineyards are situated near the ruins of the ancient town of Ghiaccio Forte, named after one of the few Etruscan warriors who was able to withstand the imperial might of the Romans. 85% Sangiovese, 15% Syrah. | 2003 Decent bright red black colour but does not seem too extracted; sweaty and dry, very disappointing at the Morellino Consorzio on Wed 2nd March 2005.
Sant’Antimo Rosso DOC, Romito del Romitorio: 2007 60% Sangiovese, 20% each Cabernet Sauvignon and Canaiolo Nero. 14 months in French oak. Thick sweet berries and vegetal tannins (Anteprima 2014).
Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Castello Romitorio: 2011 At the consorzio with Ian d’Agata Tuesday 28th May 2013: Lightish-medium crimson core. Limpid rim. Balsamic notes on nose, open, evolving and perhaps not far off being fully evolved depending on how much fruit is there on the palate; and the answer is there is plenty of ripe raspberry fruit, a bit squishy perhaps, so I would catch it whilst it is young and refreshing rather than see it overawed by the older wood. | 2012 15,400 bottles. High tone nose, bit thin (2014 Anteprima). | 2013 15,000 bottles. Bit of funk and bitterness (Anteprima 2015). 2014 Crisp, light, green (Anteprima 2016). | 2017 Cherry berry fruit, light and slightly crunchy, seems like the cherry berry flavour is cultured yeast driven (Anteprima 2019). | 2018 10,660 bottles.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Castello Romitorio: 2000 Bit green and dry, minty new oak has dried the fruit, shame, boring but clean if smoky (Anteprima 2005). | 2008 £30-59.99. Blackcurrants, lean, dry. (No medal DWWA 2nd May 2013). | 2008 Bottled. French oak. | 2009 24,666 bottles. Sweet, bit thick, dry, bit boiled (Anteprima 2014). | 2009 14.5%. Nice bright colour, ruby-cherry with garnet tones. Green and stemmy though (tasted at the Consorzio Tues 27th May 2014 with Ian d’Agata and others). | 2010 25,000 bottles. Sweet berries: simple but effective (Anteprima 2015). | 2011 Very simple, bit hot, light, maybe slightly cleaner than before (Anteprima 2016). | 2015 60,569 bottles.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Castello Romitorio, Filo di Seta: 2010 6,400 bottles. | 2015 7,472 bottles.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, XXV Vendemmi: Aged in French oak.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva: 2004 “Best Red in the World” at the International Wine Challenge 2010 in London. | 2006 Bottled. | 2007 £15-29.99. Firm red fruit on the nose, really intense but only medium weight, a good sign in terms of balance and typicity, plenty of wild raspberry fruit, long elegant fruit/tannin finish (Silver at DWWA 2013).
Soc. Agr Castello Romitorio S.r.l.
Loc. Romitorio, 279
I-53024 Montalcino (SI = Siena), Italy
Tel+39 0577.897220 | www.castelloromitorio.com