Azienda Agricola Buccelletti - Casali in Val di Chio
Let's begin 2007 by introducing a Tuscan estate, the Azienda Agricola Buccelletti - Casali in Val di Chio, located in the village of Santa Cristina, in the municipality of Castiglion Fiorentino, in the province of Arezzo. Sisters-in-law Lidia Castellucci and Roberta Giaccherini, are the dynamic duo who joined forces to improve the winemaking and extra virgin olive oil production of the family business – the Azienda Agricola Buccelletti part of the namesake – in addition to managing one of the best agriturismos (where I happened to stay in Ita)– the Casali in Val di Chio part of the business.
|The Buccelletti Estate|
|Lidia Castellucci and Roberta Giaccherini|
|The Azienda Agricola Buccelletti products: Wine, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Grappa|
|Villa La Guardata|
|Villa San Martino|
The Buccelletti family is deeply rooted in this part of Tuscany, being part of the local country Medieval nobility, which owned large parcels of land and villages in the bucolic Valle di Chio (Chio Valley), which lay at the feet of the fortified town of Castiglion Fiorentino. The family farmland has a rich history and tradition, and the special environmental conditions of the valley favor the production of excellent Valdichiana DOC wines and an extremely high quality extra virgin olive oil.
The estate farmland includes three hectares of vineyards on clayey rocky soil located 330 meters above sea level with southern exposition. The main red grapes produced are the Tuscan landmark Sangiovese, the native Canaiolo, and the international Syrah and Merlot vines. The white vine types are three native varieties: Trebbiano, Grechetto and Vermentino.
The olive grove is five times bigger than the vineyards, extending for 15 hectares for a total of 4,500 olive trees, cultivated at 450 meters of elevation. Around 80% of the olives are of the Moraiolo variety, while the remaining 20% consists of the Frantoio and Leccino varieties. The fields are terraced and the soil is marly. The trees are pruned according to the poly-cone method and the olives are hand picked between the months of October and December before being processed in a continuous cycle.
The Azienda Agricola Buccelletti produces three red wines: Poventa Valdichiana DOC Riserva, a Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese, Syrah and Merlot grapes; Arrone Valdichiana DOC, a fresh blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia Nera; and Merigge Toscana IGT , a surprising Merlot with a very distinct personality. In addition the estate produces one white wine, the Paggino Valdichiana DOC, made with the native Malvasia Bianca, Trebbiano and Grechetto grapes, and a dessert wine, the Armense Vin Santo Valdichiana DOC, made with partially withered Malvasia Bianca, Trebbiano and Grechetto grapes.
Olivolo is the name of the truly superior extra virgin olive oil made by the Azienda Agricola Buccelletti from organically grown olives. At a tasting in Geenbrae, California, one guest wrote: "The olive oil blew me away. It tastes like the salad without the lettuce: I've never tasted anything like it."
Agriturismo Casali in Val di Chio
The agriturismo consists of three different antique stone casali (farmhouses) scattered on the hills overlooking the Chio Valley. The casali have proudly kept the original 13th century names, Villa La Guardata (The Looked-at Villa), Borgo Santo Stefano (St. Stephan Village) and Villa San Martino (St. Martin Villa). They have been skillfully restructured respecting their original characteristics, though feature reasonable modern amenities and have been tastefully furnished. Each casale features a swimming pool, fully furnished large apartments with living room, large kitchens and sleeping quarters, in addition to an outside oven and grill for each apartment.
On request, and for the cost of little over $50 including wine, the estate chef, Signora Rosa, will prepare freshly baked bread, pizza, grilled meat or seafood and any kind of delicious local recipes in the apartment kitchens or outside grill/ovens.
Should you plan to visit and stay in one of the casali, be sure to make reservation well in advance. The experience is so pleasant that European guests tend to become customary, thus they often reserve one year for the next.