"I was born in Empoli, just a few miles from Florence, and from the very beginning a close relationship with the rural world was part of my daily existence because I had lived, since my first early days, the life of the hillsides where I was born. After a diploma as an expert in agronomy, I continued my studies with a doctorate in Viticulture and Oenology from the University of Florence with a thesis on viticulture.

To deepen my knowledge of oenology, I took advanced courses at the Oenology Faculty of the University of Bordeaux, particularly in production techniques and in sensorial analysis. Always stimulated by a direct confrontation with new and different viticultural realities, I worked in California at the Robert Mondavi winery and, subsequently, in New Zealand, at the Villa Maria estate. Always curious to make new discoveries, I have travelled to many different countries and viticultural zones to learn about their history, their special characteristics, and the persons actively involved in making wine.

Since 2000, I have been working as a consulting oenologist, collaborating with many projects in various high level areas of Italy. This has allowed me to work with different situations on a daily basis, a stimulating experience and one with important responsibilities. At the current moment, I am a member of the official tasting commissions for the DOC and DOCG wines of Florence, Siena, and Prato. The work of creating a great wine begins in the vineyard: only with quality grapes is it possible to make truly distinguished wines. I believe in an oenology which respects the grapes themselves, one of minimal intervention, one which has as its objective that of satisfying the consumer of the wine. My objective is that of maximizing, in every wine, the essential characteristics of the territory in which it is born, the true character of the grape variety, and the unique gifts of those who produce the wine. Producing quality wine, wines with character, in a spirit of respect for the environment and for those who choose our product is the mission of those who, like me, truly love wine. The oenologist, in fact, is an instrument: through his technical knowledge, through his tasting abilities, and through his professional experience, he must interpret the philosophy and expectations of his client in order to produce a wine which is an expression of a territory, of a grape variety, and of the producer, one which, at the same type, is appreciated to the maximum possible extent". A wine must speak both of the producer and of its territory: behind every label there is a story and there are the men and women who have created it. Nothing, in fact, happens by pure accident."

Many wines produced by this consultant have achieved important recognition in major wine magazines both in Italy and abroad. Among these: more than 90 points in the "Wine Spectator" for wines from Fattoria di Piazzano, Casa di Terra, and Piaggia. And more than 90 points in the "Wine Advocate" for the wines from Piaggia, Giampaolo Tabarrini, Sassotondo, and Moris Farms.

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about Gaiole in Chianti terroir

Meleto Castle rises, majestically, from the enchanting landscape of Chianti Classico at the terminal point of a lovely boulevard lined with cypresses and juniper bushes. The structure rises amidst fields and vineyards kissed by the sun, just a short distance away from the boundary line which once separated the Republics of Siena and Florence.

The castle once belonged to the Benedictine monks of the Badia a Coltibuono abbey, and the name "Meleto in Chianti" is cited for the first time in 1269, in the cadastral rolls of the Florentine Guelfs, as the property of Rainerii de Ricasolis. The Ricasoli family, over the course of the centuries, enlarged and beautified the structure: today the castle, for certain aspects, has conserved its massive 15th century fortifications with their cylindrical tower, constructed for protection against artillery shots, but for other aspects shows the lordly grace of a noble villa with its furnished and decorated rooms.

The first liege lord of the castle seems to have been a certain Guardellotto. He was stripped of all of his possessions as a result of conflicts with Holy Roman Emperor Frederic I Barbarossa, who entrusted Meleto to the local family of the Firidolfi, called, accordingly ""of Meleto"; other Ricasolis gave rise to another branch of the family, known as the Ricasoli Fibindacci, which strongly tied their fortunes to this part of the territory of Chianti.
Amidst the various members of the Ricasoli family, therefore, the descendents of Ranieri (1247-1268) called themselves "of Meleto" and had, as part of their inheritance, the castles of Meleto, Moriano, Monteluco, and Montegonzi, all represented at the foot of the family tree. The line continued with Rinaldo (who died in 1318), followed by Ranieri, then another Rinaldo, and finally Andrea (who died in 1457).The most important of Andrea's children was undoubtedly Ranieri, as demonstrated by the medal on the family tree, surrounded by a ribbon and tied to that of his father across the coat of arms of the Ricasoli di Meleto (a lion rampant on a decorated field).
Ranieri's branch continued with many children, among them Simone (1460-1527), a companion during his studies of Lorenzo the Magnificent de' Medici. Ranieri was the great-grandfather of Giuliano Ricasoli. In September of 1529, in the very same days in which Florentine diplomacy failed in its mission to Rome and the Holy Roman Emperor invited the house to Orange to temporize, Siena, for its part, began a battle against Florentine possession in Chianti.On September 29th, the castle of Brolio surrendered. Filippo and Geremia Ricasoli, who had defended it, were captured and a large ransom demanded for their liberation. During the following weeks, the armies of Siena sacked the entire territory of Chianti, besieged Meleto, and conquered Radda in Chianti and Castellina in Chianti.

In 1529, the Castle of Meleto resisted, victoriously, the siege of the imperial armies and, finally, never destroyed either by sieges or battles, was transformed into a villa in 1700. The property remained in the hands of the Ricasoli family until 1968, the year in which Gianni Mazzocchi, a visionary entrepreneur with a passion for the world of wine, launched a public subscription to acquire the property of the castle and other adjacent properties.
Between 1968 and 1972, an important process of agricultural transformation was carried out, a process during which 450 acres (180 hectares) of vineyards were planted and important fermentation and aging cellars, considered state of the art at the time, were built. The cellars, even today, have maintained their original characteristics.
The grape varieties available
in Gaiole in Chianti
Castello di Meleto