10 thought-provoking questions & answers from Gaiole, Chianti. Meet Alessandro Campatelli of Riecine.
1. What is your most important wine experience?
From a technical point of view, Riecine is where I have found my maturity, but I owe everything to Trinoro, and the four years that I spent as Director of the estate. I understood what it meant to ‘live’ agriculture and oenology professionally, but also with a romantic and old-fashioned approach.
2. Have you made a ‘wine pilgrimage’ and if so, where and why?
I lived and worked for six months in California, where I was able to experience in depth the local wine culture, tasting wines and comparing them with winemakers who have enriched my knowledge and above all opened my perspective, until then totally focused on European wines.
My other passion is the Slovenian wine culture, a small nation but with a giant viniculture community. For example, the wines of Brda and among these the ones from Marjan Simcic are at the top level. Also, the little known hills of Haloze that overlook the Pannonian plain, where a heroic viticulture can only lead to great successes and fine wines, among my favourites is Kobal. In Slovenian Styria, there are many very interesting stories made of great wine interpreters and young winemakers: the wines of Gönc are definitely to be tasted.
3. Who do you prefer to drink wine with?
My idea of wine is just sitting around a table, in the company of friends in a convivial setting. Drinking wine has its own ritual that I believe must be respected and above all it must be enjoyed by accompanying it with great food.
4. What would your (3) best recommendations be if someone came to visit your area?
Do not restrict your visit to only one of the Chianti Classico villages. Each has its own typicity and fascinating history despite being just a few kilometers from each other. Wines have very different characteristics from one area to another which is great to discover and try to recognise them. That’s why my three tips are to visit at least three of these wine estates:
– Isole e Olena (Barberino Val d’Elsa) Firenze
– Monteraponi (Radda in Chianti) Siena
– Fontodi (Panzano) Firenze
– Riecine (Gaiole in Chianti) Siena
– Carpineta-Fontalpino (Castelnuovo Berardenga) Siena
5. Who do you dream to work with and why?
My dream was to work with Carlo Ferrini, and this has already come true, so I would say that I already reached a good point.
If today I had to formulate another dream, I would say that I would like to compare myself professionally with Aleš Kristančič of Movia, to return to the subject of Slovenia. I like his lightness in interpreting wines and his “pinch” of madness, which is always important in oenology.
6. Who is or was your mentor and why did you choose them?
I have many points of reference, Carlo Ferrini, who I consider a friend as well as a mentor, is a fundamental figure for me today. But I cannot fail to mention Andrea Franchetti. I owe a lot of my knowledge to him. I would like to be able to have his professionalism in the viticulture sector. He has an enviable passion and ability to focus, knows what he wants for his wines and a simple taste is enough for him to understand what is happening in the barrels. In addition, a maniacal care at harvest time, always with that little recklessness that only the great winemakers have.
7. What motivates you?
There are many challenges, but the idea that one day Chianti Classico can be considered on the same level as the great Burgundy stimulates me so much, and I would like to be considered one of the architects of this upswing.
8. What is the biggest challenge you face today?
Surely the extreme weather conditions and the sudden changes between one harvest and the next are the toughest challenges of today, but will be even more so in the next decade. We must constantly experiment in the vineyard and find a quick solution to problems that are always different and unexpected.
9. What is your greatest achievement?
Having brought the Chianti Classico 2016 of Riecine to the platinum medal with a good 97 points out of 100 at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2018. Chianti Classico is not an entry level wine, although the price and the perception of consumers today suggest the opposite, and getting one of the highest awards ever obtained by a vintage Chianti Classico has filled me with pride, for Riecine and for the whole denomination.
10. And now?
And now we’re aiming for 100 points!