Caparsa winery (www.caparsa.it) near Radda in Chianti was started by the father of the current owner, Paolo. Most winemakers are dedicated to what they do but there are few like Paolo who sees it as an integral part of his philosophy, his vision, and his passion.
Talking with Paolo, you learn so much about the area and its history. He will explain that just up the hill the remains of an Etruscan village were discovered together with some grapes and millstones which are now in a local museum, evidence that the area has seen continuous wine production for over 2,500 years. His commitment to organic farming is complete and he will explain not only the complexity of the ecosystems but also the changes he has seen as a result of global warming. He now sees insect species that were previously unknown in the area. On the good news front, because of climate change his wines have increased in strength over the years from 11.5% forty years ago to around 13.5% now. So if you want to drown your worries, it’s much easier now…
With 12 hectares of vines certainly Paolo could produce more than the 30,000 bottles of wine that he currently makes but he is concerned not just with quality but also honesty and purity. The harvest is by hand but that is not unusual. After selecting the grapes, they are separated from the stems to reduce tannins before being fermented in cement. Paolo explains that the cement is porous and that allows the wine to breathe. Other wine makers might use commercially available yeasts but this is not part of Paolo’s philosophy and he goes with the yeasts present on the grape skins.
From the fermentation vats, we moved to the cellar, and talking to Paolo about his techniques was a revelation. He knows each of his barrels personally, barrique, tonneaux and botte. He will happily explain that identical barrels will have different characteristics that you can only learn through time and experience. This is a man who relishes every stage of the wine-making process. He does not filter his wines but after 12 months in a large oak botte the sediment will be at the bottom of the barrel and so he transfers the wine to another barrel before thoroughly cleaning it out and transferring the wine back.
In the mid-17th century vaulted tasting room I tried his 2016 Chianti Classico. With a bouquet of raspberry, blackberry and cherry on the palate it has well-balanced tannins. This would go well with roasted or barbecued red meat. After this, Paolo let me taste his 2016 Carpasino Riserva, a beautifully balanced wine, obviously similar to the Chianti Classico but with a darker colour, richer bouquet and softer tannins.
Driving away from Caparsa, I had the feeling I was leaving one calm and timeless world for another less so and I was not certain that I was going in the right direction by heading back into August, 2020.
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