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Rocca di Frassinello
SuperTuscan has never carried its name better. The lovechild of two iconic wineries, Rocca di Frassinello is an Italian stallion with a little bit of ooh la la. The winery might be young - the first vintage was only produced in 2004 - but it has years of winemaking legacy to fall back on. Namely the mighty names of Castellare di Castellina and first growth Domaine du Barons de Rothschild-Lafite. Not bad for a new kid on the block, eh?
Two becomes one
The joint venture between these two great oenological powerhouses seemed improbable at first. Paolo Panerai, owner of Castellare di Castellina in Chianti was indeed aware of Eric de Rothschild as Rothschild had listed Panerai’s publishing house, Class Editori, on the Milanese stock exchange. Despite a mutual respect for one another, no JVs were in the pipeline. That would soon change; one thing led to another and Panerai invited Rothschild to the coastal region of Tuscany’s Maremma where he had just purchased some land. Rothschild was in awe. "If you can buy the whole valley”, he said “we will make this a joint venture". The dice were cast and quicker than you can say mamma mia, they had bought 500 hectares on the gently rolling hills between Bolgheri and Scansano. It was 1999.
France vs. Italy
Rocca di Frassinello’s all important terroir is its not so secret weapon. With characteristics that are very like those found in Chianti and Montalcino (albeing with higher temperatures), Panerai and Rothschild planted 83-hectares to 50% Sangioveto, and a 50% mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Vermentino. The Merlot and Cabernet vines planted in Rocca are clones of those of Lafite. Land is farmed with biodiversity in mind, while the constant sea breeze coming in from the Tyrrhenian Sea keeps the vines from drying out under the hot Tuscan sun. You could say that this melange is a perfect mix of both French winemaking heritage and Italian rich and flavourful poetry. Together, the result is the best of both countries.
The dream team
Next came the team. With so much at stake, it was crucial to get this right. Panerai was appointed chairman and Christophe Salin, CEO of Domain-Lafite, vice chairman. The care of the vineyards and the cellar was jointly entrusted to Alessandro Cellai, oenologist and general manager of Castellare di Castellina, and Christian Le Sommer, then manager of the companies of Domain with the exclusion of Lafite. To consolidate their JV, famed architect Renzo Piano (of the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris and The Shard in London fame) was tasked with designing the winery - a first time project for him. Although the partnership is no longer in place, Rothschild and Panerai remain good friends, testimony of which can be found in the glass of their gorgeous wine.
Notable facts and vintages
- The estate has invested heavily in wine tourism. For a fully authentic experience, guests can stay in the designed guest house, stroll the beautiful vineyards and view the many Etruscan remains. An ancient burial ground and a small museum - complete with an Etruscan wine tasting experience - can be found on site.
- Rocca di Frassinello has six labels. Investors should look out for its Bafferono wine though - higher in both price and quality, this is where the best investment opportunities lie.
- The beautiful Baffonero wine is perhaps the jewel in Rocca’s crown. 2015s offering was given a lofty score of 94/100 by Robert Parker, while 2016s vintage was granted 93/100 by Antoni Galloni.