From the Fires of War
Castello di Meleto sits comfortably atop a 413m above sea level hill at the end of a westerly trending ridge of the Monti de Chianti, above the Borro (brook) Massellone. A side road off of route S408 about three kilometers south of Gaiole in Chianti leads eastward toward Rietine, Castagnoli and San Martino, with a branch road leaving it soon after the junction, climbing south to Meleto.
The castle’s two round towers were part of a defensive structure built in the 11th Century by the Florentines as an outpost to protect their gain of Sienese territory during generations of warfare between the two city-states.
Later, after ownership by the Benedictine monks from Badia di Coltibuono to the north (an earlier RenaissanceRules post reflected upon our visits there), the entrepreneurial family Ranierii Ricasoli acquired Meleto, planted cypress and juniper woods and reinforced the castle to withstand artillery fire in the 14th Century.
Gallo Nero and the Wines of Castello di Meleto
Castello di Meleto is a member of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, the famous “Gallo Nero” (Black Rooster) consortium, which sets and monitors standards for protection of the legendary Chianti Classico wines produced from a certain of Sangiovese grapes. Meleto annually produces about 250,000 bottles of Chianti Classico DOCG, 50,000 bottles of Chianti Classico DOCG Reserve, and 50,000 bottles of Castello di Meleto Fiore IGT wine, as well as a fine vin santo, grappa and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
Their wines are bold and expressive of both modern and traditional Chianti Classico vintages, virtually always rating above 86 points in national and international competitions and reviews. We greatly enjoyed them while in Tuscany, and have found them at a few outlets in the United States.
The formal contact information is, Castello di Meleto, 53013 Gaiole in Chianti (SI), Italy, Tel +39 0577 749217, www.castellomeleto.it
Traditions Honored and Shared
In addition to tours of the historic castle, the ancient village church, tasting and wine acquisition in the friendly winery shop (of course!), Castello di Meleto also has about four apartments for rent in the old borgo. They also host large gatherings including weddings and receptions in the well-maintained rooms of the castle.
We have been impressed by the serene setting, warm hospitality, fine wine and beautifully preserved decorations within the castle. Of particular note are a fine little chapel, the large salons for dining and entertainment, period furnished bedrooms, and an extraordinary theater with stage settings, scenery and costumes still in place.
When you are wandering the roads of Chianti between Firenze and Siena, Castello di Meleto is well worth a very short detour and a leisurely visit. Just be very sure to slow down in order to properly indulge in their great hospitality…
And very fine Chianti Classico!