Rocca di Frassinello
The Italian-French joint venture project Rocca di Frassinello was born from a very simple idea, born from the will of Paolo Panerai of Castellare and the famous Baron Eric de Rothschild of Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite, or the most famous wine brand in France and all over the world. These two illustrious figures of the wine wolrd have put together the experience of Castellare di Castellina in the cultivation and vinification of the Tuscan prince grape variety, Sangiovese (here called Sangioveto), and that of Lafite on classic French varieties: Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Shiraz. They set their sights on the central Maremma area, between Bolgheri and Scansano, where a sort of geological foot can be found, with the same characteristics as the Chianti and Montalcino terrains (of which this foot is in fact a kind of extension towards the sea). Land, therefore, similar to Tuscany’s most famous wine regions, but with one important difference: an average temperature 4 to 5 and even 6 °C higher, with grapes therefore characterised by the ability to ripen even three to four weeks earlier. This area, so incredibly suited for growing vines, is part of Gavorrano and Roccastrada municipalities.
It took two years to merge the five farms that make up the 500 hectares of Rocca di Frassinello, the hectares of vineyards planted today are about 90. This already extremely ambitious venture has been further enriched by marking and pairing the birth of the Rocca di Frassinello winery with one of the most prestigious names in the world of design and architecture: that of Renzo Piano, the architect that designed Rocca di Frassinello winery, a true jewel of winemaking architecture. Piano has conceived an essential wine cellar in the forms and he designed it not to be a monument but to enhance the functionality of an essentially productive establishment, giving it a ritual, almost sacred, humble value, revolutionizing at the same time the concept of spaces usually arranged horizontally according to the winemaking process. In this project, in fact, the barrel room set in a central underground position, making it possible to naturally maintain a stable humidity and temperature. An imposing 40 by 40 square metre space, with an enormous floor slab that stands without being supported by any columns. All around, like a 20-metre frame, the distribution of all aspects of the production cycle unfolds. The steel tanks are distributed on two sides of the area and above each one stands a chute that opens onto the roof above. The roof of the barrique in fact serves a dual purpose as the large work area created above while from those chutes come down the grapes carried in crates, which before descending without the stress of pumps are carefully selected on special work benches. All other production functions are distributed along the other two sides: bottling, storage, warehousing and logistics.
Rocca di Frassinello's wines are all blends with the exception of Baffonero which is 100% Merlot. Exactly the opposite of Castellare di Castellina philosophy, where the native grapes are not rendered blend with the international ones. The first official harvest was 2004, with around 130,000 bottles produced.