Gaiole in Chianti is a commune in the province of Siena in Tuscany, one of nine entitled to the Chianti Classico DOCG. Vineyards in part of Gaiole are also allowed the Val d’Arbia DOC (for white or pink wines only). Gaiole covers a surface area of 50 square miles (130 square kilometres).
Vineyard area: 2014 826.25 hectares representing 12.76% of Chianti Classico’s total vineyard area of 6,476.66 hectares, making it Chianti Classico’s biggest township in terms of vineyard surface area (Source: Enoproject, Franco Bernabei).
Terroir: Gaiole can be divided into two broad areas, namely the lower-lying western side (towards the valley of the Arbia river) and the higher, eastern side leading to the Chianti mountains (‘Monti del Chianti’) where one finds alberese on the higher sites. Alessandro Masnaghetti (2014) points out that of the four Chianti Classico townships in Siena province (Radda-in-Chianti, Castellina-in-Chianti and Castelnuovo Berardenga being the others), Gaiole-in-Chianti has the most varied terrain. He also says Gaiole’s varied terroir is a microcosm of Chianti Classico as a whole, citing its range of expositions, geology and altitudes. This makes dividing Gaiole into neat sectors difficult he says, but adds that he considers there are three broad sectors here which he calls Eastern, Western and Southern.
Eastern sector: This is the biggest and most varied of the three sectors, says Alessandro Masnaghetti (2014) which extends over ‘a hillside strip just below the Chianti Mountains (Monti del Chianti), along the road connecting San Donato in Perano with Castagnoli, deviating towards Montegrossi and Casa al Vento, and touching Riecine and Capannelle.’ Altitudes of 500-610 metres (1,650-2,000 feet) are often a ‘determining factor’ in terms of wine style. There are less extreme but still elevated altitudes of 400-500 metres (1,300-1,650 feet) along the road joining Radda-in-Chianti with Meleto, where are found ‘the zones of Vistarenni and Casi, the rocky spot of Vertine and, finally, at lower altitudes and on more workable soils, the zone of San Pietro,’ says Masnaghetti. Isolated but still high altitude estates include Monterotondo, at the very eastern boundary of the [DOCG] appellation, (with fine-grained and, at times, sandy soils), by Starda, which turns towards the Arno river valley, and by, finally, the zones of Fietri and San Vincenti [which have] luminous, panoramic positions on the last slopes of the Monti del Chianti.’
Western sector: Alessandro Masnaghetti (2014) says that compared to the Eastern sector, the Western one is more homogeneous in terms of ‘configuration and soils. Its best known viticultural nucleus is around Ama, Adige, Montebuoni, and San Polo in Rosso (where soils are very rocky and altitudes can rise to over 500 metres (1,650 feet) above sea level.’ To these Masnaghetti says one can add the zone of Poggioarso which has similar soils but is situated more to the north, and Antinora, with greyer and less rocky soils. The Lecchi in Chianti zone, which includes the amphitheatre of Bertinga, is at the extreme opposite side of this sector, as is San Sano which has generally lower altitudes and extends over a high plateau with soft slopes delimiting it.
Southern sector: Alessandro Masnaghetti (2014) says the southern sector centres on Monti, and is best viewed from Castello di Cacchiano (views from Brolio to the Crete Senese, and from Siena to Mount Amiata). To the east of Monti is found the renowned ridge descending from Brolio toward Torricella, often crossing very stony, high quality soils. The zone of San Giusto a Rentenanno is closed in between Monti, Brolio and Gaiole’s southern boundary. Northwards, towards Lucignano and Argenina there is a wide range of soil types from tufa to alluvial stones and ultimately to the clays of Corsignano.
Frazioni (localities): Ama. | Badia a Coltibuono. | Barbischio. | Brolio. | Casanova. | Castagnoli (località). | Colle. | Fietri. | Galenda. | La Madonna. | Lecchi. | Lucignano. | Montegrossi. | Monteluco T.V. | Monti. | Monti di Sotto. | Montiverdi (località). | Nussena. | Poggio San Polo. | Rietine. | San Donato in Perano. | San Giusto alle Monache. | San Martino. | San Polo. | San Regolo. | San Sano. | San Vincenti. | Starda. | Vertine. | Vistarenni (località).
Winemaking: ‘The Sangiovese harvest in Chianti Classico takes place about two weeks later in Gaiole in Chianti and Radda in Chianti than it does in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, only a 15-minute drive away,’ (Ian D’Agata, Vinous, Sept 2014).
Certified organic: Badia a Coltibuono. | Cantalici. | Fattoria San Giusto a Rentennano. | Fietri. | I Sodi. | Istine. | La Casa di Bricciano. | La Porta di Vertine. | Le Miccine. | Mannucci Droandi. | Monterotondo. | Podere Il Palazzino. | Rocca di Montegrossi. | Riecine. | Tenuta Perano.
No certification: Agricoltori del Chianti Geografico. | Barone Ricasoli. | Borgo Casa al Vento. | Borratella. | Capannelle. | Casanova di Bricciano. | Casanuova di Ama. | Castello di Ama. | Castello di Brolio. | Castello di Cacchiano. | Castello di Lucignano. | Castello di Meleto. | Castello di San Donato in Perano. | Castello di San Sano. | Castello di Tornano. | Fattoria di Rietine. | Fattoria Gittori. | Fattoria Valtellina. | Il Colombaio di Cencio. | La Mandria. | La Montanina. | Le Macie del Ponte alla Granchiaia. | Maurizio Alongi. | Montiverdi. | Pieve di Spaltenna. | Podere Ciona. | Rocca di Castagnoli. | San Martino. | San Vincenti. | Sesta Grande. | Settetorri. | Tiorcia. | Vistarenni.
Alessandro Masnaghetti (2014), 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).
Dr Ian D’Agata, Tuscany Part 1: Chianti, Vino Nobile and Supertuscans (Sep 2014) | Vinous