Fattoria Ispoli is an organic estate in Mercatale Val di Pesa, a locality (‘frazione’) in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, a commune in the province of Florence within the Chianti Classico DOCG region of Tuscany. The estate is 9 miles (15km) south of Florence itself.
The first officially documented traces of Fattoria Ispoli dates to 1580, according to a document in the Central Historical Archive of the City of Florence. It states that the family of Niccolo Machiavelli (“The Prince”), was the owner of the property. The name “Ispoli” presumably traces its roots back to the name “Ippolita”, a grand daughter of the famous philosopher and historian (of which more below). The esate’s barrels cellar was built on the foundations of what was once a watch tower to the village of Mercatale, built in 1237 as a marketplace to the Montecampolesi castle. In the maps of the “Capitani di parte Guelfa” dating to 1580 the buildings of Ispoli are actually sketched out in a map and resemble very much the building as is visible today. It then belonged to Ippolita Machiavelli. The Machiavelli family later passed on the property through their heirs to the Serristori family that owned Ispoli until 1977 when it was then sold to the Pisani-Landini family. The farm was sharecropped until 1977. Electricity and running water were only implemented in 1972.
Bernd Mattheis: In 1988 the estate was bought by the late Bernd Mattheis, a German wine merchant from Tübingen and his wife Heide. They visited two or three times a year. Their wines were sold mainly in Germany. Bernd hired Cristiano Castagno as full time Viticulturist and Oenologist, and the estate gained organic certification (see below). Bernd and Heidi’s son Marian and and daughter Mareike and their respective families own the estate today.
Staff: Manager: Cristiano Adrian Castagno (born in Wimbledon in 1964). Swiss grand-mother. Trained oenologist. (He has consulted to Caparsa in Radda. Three children with the late wife, Rosangela (died suddenly in 2014).
Terroir: Cristiano Castagno explained the following to me when I visited in 2005: ‘Altitude of 300 metres here, so good when hot ie 2000 and 2004. Made a good 2002, structured 2003 and decent 2004; here is lime and clay so water retentive. Peronospera (downy mildew) is the main problem here: higher up in this zone oidium (powdery mildew) is the main problem.’
Vineyards: 2005 5ha of vines: Sangiovese (mainly), Chardonnay, Canaiolo, Trebbiano, Malvasia. | 2017 20ha of land of which 5.5ha are vineyards. Mainly Sangiovese. Also Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Canaiolo. The vineyards lie around the main building and are separated from neighbouring vineyards by woodland (see below), a bonus in terms of blocking unwanted spray drift from non-organic neighbours.
Organic certification: 1988 Full organic certification for the first time.
Winemaking: Fermentation in stainless steel. All wines (apart from the ‘rosato’) are aged in oak cooperage of varying capacity from 225 litre barrels to 3,000 litre Slavonian vats according to wine style.
IGT Toscana Bianco, Ispoli: 2002 Chardonnay. Some mercaptan and fizz, not great, tasted at Argiano on Thursday 31 March 2005.
IGT Toscana Rosato, Ispolaia: A ‘saingée’ from the Ispolaia Rosso, below.
IGT Toscana Rosso, Ispolaia: 2015 33% each CS, Merlot, Sangiovese. Also made as a ‘rosato’.
Chianti Classico DOCG, Ispoli:
Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva, Ispoli: 2000 Sangiovese and a bit of Merlot. Unfiltered. Green fruit sweetend by the oak, and some VA too. Potentially forceful and well structured but lacklustre winemaking, tasted at Argiano, 31 March 2005. | 2002 Sangiovese plus a tiny bit of Merlot. Decent fruit and weight of tannin, wood a bit grubby, but has some sort of energy, just needs a bit more polish even for a bog standard Chianti (tasted at Argiano, Thursday 31 March 2005). | 2013 Bottled.
Trebbiano, Malvasia and Canaiolo.
2ha of olive trees for olive oil. In 2005 Cristiano Castagno told me the trees are neither sprayed nor touched, apart from pruning. They give very low yields.
Apart from the vines and olives, the remaining land on the estate is forest.
Via Santa Lucia, 2
Loc. Mercatale Val di Pesa
I-50026 San Casciano in Val di Pesa (FI = Firenze), Italy
www.fattoria-ispoli.com | Tel+39 055.821613
Alessandro Masnaghetti, I Cru di Enogea, Chianti Classico (Alessandro Masnaghetti Editore, first edition July 2014).
Bill Nesto MW & Frances Di Savino, Chianti Classico, the Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine, (University of California Press, 2016), p246-249.