32 Generations in Chianti Dinner at VanWineFest 2024

For VanWineFest 2024, I joined Barone Francesco Ricasoli from Tuscany for an unforgettable dinner featuring his Chianti Classico wines paired with traditional Tuscan fare prepared by the culinary team at Italian Kitchen.  The Barone provided us with background to his family winery as well as information about each wine.  He is the 32nd Barone of the family, living in the castle (his home), Castello di Brolio.  This castle is between Florence and Siena and is strategically located.  Florence was the most important banking centre in Europe in the 15th century.  The Ricasoli family was aligned with the Medici family from Florence.  Located at the southern edge of the Medici’s influence, the Ricasoli family guarded the southern region from the Siena families.  At one point, the castle was attacked and completely destroyed.  The Medici family was thankful for the Ricasoli’s support, so they paid to rebuild the castle. Baron Bettino Ricasoli (1809 – 1880), a politician and wine entrepreneur, originated the formula for Chianti wine, now called Chianti Classico.

I will lead you first through our dining menu, followed by a description of the wines, and finally the food and wine pairing. Enjoy.

Our Menu

Canapés Trio with Welcome Cocktail
Crostino toscano – chicken livers, vin santo
Polpo in umido – red wine & tomato braised octopus, chillies
Rosetta di Finocchiona – quail egg

Aperol spritz (Not Ricasoli)

Course 1
Tartare di Ricciola
with greater amberjack, baby zucchini, pomodorini, heirloom carrots, fennel pollen, grapefruit salt
Castello di Brolio SanBarnaba Vin Bianco 2020

Course 2
Cacciucco alla Livornese
with red mullet, clams, mussels, shrimp, rich tomato broth, grilled tuscan bread
Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG 2021

Course 3
Pollo Croccante
with crispy chicken roulade, lemon caper & brown butter sauce, winter green salad
Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020

Course 4
Pici con Guanciale e Pecorino Toscano
crispy pork cheek bacon with garlic confit, extra virgin olive oil, aged pecorino toscano
Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2020

Course 5
Rotolo di Coniglio alle Erbette con Patate e Olive Taggiasche
rabbit with pecorino fresco, sauteed spinach, rosemary potatoes, confit cherry tomato, Taggiasche olives
Casalferro Merlot IGT Toscana 2019

Course 6
Cinghiale in Umido
wild boar with cipolline, raisins, grilled polenta, braised winter greens
Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2020

Dessert
Vin Santo Poached Pear
with whipped mascarpone, cantucci
Castello di Brolio Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC 2014

The Wines

Castello di Brolio SanBarnaba Vin Bianco 2020The first wine we tasted, a white wine, was named after Saint Barnaba, the saint protecting people working in the fields. This is the first vintage of the wine.  It is made from the Trebbiano grape.  The wine was vinified using indigenous yeast and skin contact. The wine was then aged for one year in amphora, in steel, and in second and third passage tonneau. 

The wine has a brilliant lemon colour.  Dry with a light body and silky texture.  A touch of tannins.  Medium-plus acidity. A mix of citrus and stone fruit flavours. 4.5 stars

Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG 2022 – This is the family’s daily wine. I recommend this wine to all my friends.  This wine has a medium-intensity juicy berry nose.  Medium body, lean, but mouth-filling.  Medium-plus acidity and medium tannins.  Juicy berry fruit flavours.  The wine gets a bit rounder with swirling.  A nice mix of fruit flavour and acidic tension. Medium length. 4.5 stars

Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020 – Deeply coloured.  Medium-intensity aromas of black fruit, berries and a touch of oak. Dry, medium-plus body with a lean mouthfeel.  A good level of acidity (medium-plus) along with medium tannins.  Red cherries and red berries, plus touches of minerality, floral and pepperiness.  Medium length. 4.5 stars5 stars

Castello di Brolio SanBarnaba Vin Bianco 2020, Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG 2022, and Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020 wines
Castello di Brolio SanBarnaba Vin Bianco 2020, Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG 2022, and Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020 wines

Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2020 – Gran Selezione is their top-tier wine, made with 100% Sangiovese grapes.  Fermentation and maceration in stainless steel tanks followed by 22 months in tonneaux of 500 lt of which 30% new oak and 70% of second fill. This wine has a lighter garnet colour in the glass.  Light toast and red fruit aromas. Medium body with a light mouthfeel and acidic tension on the palate.  Red cherries, tart red fruit and vanilla flavours.  Some pepperiness toward the finish.  Medium-plus length.  Unique. 4.5 stars

Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2019 – a bonus wine. A darker colour in the glass.  Light cherry and oak aromas.  Dry, medium body with a lean mouthfeel.   Cherries and plums on the palate with hints of mint and pepper.  Medium acidity and light tannins. 4.5 stars

Casalferro Merlot IGT Toscana 2019 – Opaue in colour.  Medium-minus intensity dark fruit and oak aromas.  Dry, medium-minus body with a lean mouthfeel.  Medium-plus acidity and light tannins.  Berry fruits, black cherries and plums plus pepperiness on the palate.  Medium length.  An acid-driven wine. 4 stars4.5 stars

Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2020 – A single vineyard wine.  It has a deeper garnet colour.  A light juicy berry nose.  Dry, medium-plus body, lean but almost mouth-filling.  Juicy berries and pepperiness on the palate.  Higher acidity. Medium tannins.  A nicely structured wine that can age.  Medium-plus length. 4.5 stars

Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2019, Casalferro Merlot IGT Toscana 2019, and Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2020 wines
Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2019, Casalferro Merlot IGT Toscana 2019, and Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2020 wines

Castello di Brolio Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC 2014 – Made with Malvasia 90%, Trebbiano 5%,  and Sangiovese 5%. A medium peach skin colour.  Nice sweet nose with sweet spices and oranges. Medium sweetness and medium-plus body with a thicker mouthfeel.  Dried stone fruits, sweet spices, cinnamon in particular, and light pepperiness mid-palate to the finish.  There is also some nuttiness or woodiness on the very end.  Medium length.  Very tasty. 4.5 stars

The Food and Wine Pairings

Crostino Toscano – chicken livers, vin santo, Polpo in umido – red wine & tomato braised octopus, chillies, and Rosetta di Finocchiona – quail egg.  

Tartare di Ricciola with greater amberjack, baby zucchini, pomodorini, heirloom carrots, fennel pollen, and grapefruit salt. Castello di Brolio SanBarnaba Vin Bianco 2020The Barone told us that amberjack is a type of fish from the Mediterranean Sea.  This was a tartare dish using the amberjack.  I tasted a mix of saltiness and oiliness from the dish, which worked nicely with the acidity and fruit flavours from this wine.  A tasty complementary pairing.

Cacciucco alla Livornese with red mullet, clams, mussels, shrimp, rich tomato broth, grilled Tuscan bread. this is a classic fish stew invented by fishers in the past in the port city of Livorno.  Originally a peasant dish, it has been elevated in status over time. Barone Ricasoli noted that to make this dish authentic there needs to be a slice of crusty bread in the bowl, and when we checked, it was there.  The Barone and everyone at my table was very happy with this dish.  The Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG 2022 was a unique pairing as we are conditioned to think of white wine to be served with a seafood dish.  This medium-bodied wine with its lower level of tannins, higher acidity, and fruit flavours made an excellent complementary pairing with the seafood.  I think the tomato broth helped marry the seafood and wine together. My favourite pairing.

Pollo Croccante with crispy chicken roulade, lemon caper & brown butter sauce, and winter green salad.
Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2020. I liked the crunchy breading on the chicken and the tanginess of the salad in this dish.  The fruit flavours and acidity in the wine made this a nice pairing.  The tannins also were light which helped with the pairing. Delicious.

Canapés, Tartare di Ricciola, Cacciucco alla Livornese, and Pollo Croccante dishes
Canapés, Tartare di Ricciola, Cacciucco alla Livornese, and Pollo Croccante dishes

Pici con Guanciale e Pecorino Toscano crispy pork cheek bacon with garlic confit, extra virgin olive oil, aged pecorino toscano. Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2020 and 2019The guanciale (pork jowl bacon) was nicely crunchy.  There was also saltiness from the guanciale and the pecorino and firmness from the thick al dente noodles.  The flavours in this dish were not strong. The acidity, light tannins, and red fruit flavours of both wines made complementary pairings with this dish.

Rotolo di Coniglio alle Erbette con Patate e Olive Taggiasche, rabbit with pecorino fresco, sauteed spinach, rosemary potatoes, confit cherry tomato, Taggiasche olives. Casalferro Merlot IGT Toscana 2019For this dish, the flavour of the rabbit was very mild and had a soft texture.  I picked out more the bitterness of the spinach and the flavour from the pecorino fresco cheese.  The wine had a bit too much fruit flavour and overpowered the dish.

Cinghiale in Umido, wild boar with cipolline, raisins, grilled polenta, and braised winter greens. Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2020There was lots of wild boar flavour in this dish.  I also enjoyed having the polenta texture.  This was a delicious pairing with the wine in particular the matching of the fresh fruit flavour and acidity in the wine to the wild boar meat.

Vin Santo Poached Pear with whipped mascarpone, cantucci. Castello di Brolio Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC 2014. I liked that the pear was not overcooked.  It still had some crunchiness to it.  The pear was poached in sweet spices.  A fresh tasting dish that paired nicely with the orange and sweet spice flavours from the wine, and the sweetness in the wine.

Pici con Guanciale e Pecorino Toscano, Rotolo di Coniglio alle Erbette con Patate e Olive Taggiasche, Cinghiale in Umido, and Vin Santo Poached Pear dishes
Pici con Guanciale e Pecorino Toscano, Rotolo di Coniglio alle Erbette con Patate e Olive Taggiasche, Cinghiale in Umido, and Vin Santo Poached Pear dishes

Overall, this was a fantastic dinner.  Each course was well thought out and most made wonderful complementary pairings.  Thank you to the Vancouver International Wine Festival for providing me with attendance at this event, to Barone Ricasoli for his wonderful wines, and to the Italian Kitchen for the paired Tuscan dishes and venue.

Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.

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