Peter: Are you a supporter of the new regulations on unità geografiche aggiuntive? If so, can you say why?
Franco: The Chianti Classico region is very large, and there are substantial differences in terroir, including varying soil types, exposures, microclimates and biodiversity. Therefore, a further breakdown of its parts can only enhance and distinguish wines made from grapes coming from particular soils and sub-zones. I have been supporting this project for 40 years (see Panzano, Lamole), and believe that the fact this new breakdown has started with a focus on Gran Selezione serves to bring greater prestige to such an important and recognized denomination in the world.
Peter: What would you say are the distinguishing characteristics of Castellina Chianti Classico in general?
Franco: Castellina in Chianti rises above the surrounding area with slopes and vineyards with a south-east to south-west exposure. In the medium-low areas the soils composed mainly of Alberese rock produce wines of elegant character and balanced acidity, in addition to the roundness and varietal persistence of Sangiovese. In the upper vineyards, where the temperature range is higher, the acidity and tannins increase and the silkier Sangiovese characteristics come out with greater intensity.
Peter: How do your winemaking practices intersect with terroir and local typicity; do they mould or enhance them?
Franco: A lot of passion must be invested at the beginning. Every estate, every plot, every vineyard is vinified in a targeted way, which constantly aims to enhance the typicality of the territory and the winery itself. The winemaking technical sheets are always studied looking at tradition and respect for the territory, but also increasingly with a technological key. But it is key to always touch the grapes with your hands – only those who put their hands on the land and its fruits can enhance them.
Peter: You work with a number of estates across Tuscany and I know you do not seek to impose a specific set of winemaking practices on individual properties. What makes Villa Trasqua special?
Franco: I started working with Villa Trasqua eight years ago, and terroir is constantly respected there. Trasqua has a unique microclimate, and massal selection of the clones was initiated to ensure a uniqueness and typicity of the estate wines. Trasqua has a focus on ageing but its wines have a good structure, body and taste of the land. Its soil has a different biodiversity to the rest of Chianti Classico in general – Jurassic period rocks, with a very special chemical composition, which is very rich in iron, magnesium and other elements such as copper, zinc and nickel.