125 Years of Castello di Querceto
La Corte 2019: Interpreter of the past and present
The origins of Castello di Querceto, with its crenellated tower, date back to the Middle Ages, but the milestone being celebrated by the François family this year is an impressive 125 years as wine producers.
It was in 1897, in fact, in Dudda, in the commune of Greve in Chianti, that Carlo François purchased Castello di Querceto. Even then, estate-grown wine was being made within its venerable cellars from the surrounding vineyards, and Carlo, immediately recognising the innate quality of its Sangiovese, began to make a monovarietal from a small vineyard parcel of particular promise. That was the ancestor of La Corte, and a few bottles, dated 1904, still survive. A few years later, in 1924, Castello di Querceto became a founding producer of the Consorzio Chianti Classico.
The estate’s modern history, however, begins with Alessandro François, and his pioneering concept of the Chianti Classico cru. Since the 1970s, he has been minutely studying every individual plot on the estate, and, confirming the ground-breaking intuitions of his grandfather, he determined that the qualities of that very same parcel merited his first single-vineyard wine. La Corte thus debuted officially in 1978 as an IGT Toscana, produced from that 3.4-hectare vineyard lying at an elevation of 450 metres, planted with a south-southwest-facing exposure in sandy soils.
Over the following decades, other singular expressions enriched the collection, and Castello di Querceto became a benchmark for the entire denomination, a growing area for which Alessandro and his wife Antonietta have been ambassadors literally across five continents, exporting their wines to over 50 countries. Today, Simone and Lia François work side by side with their father in managing the wine estate, as do their respective spouses Stefania and Marco, sharing responsibility for hospitality, administration, and export.
Over the years, research at the Castello has proceeded uninterrupted. The introduction of precision viticulture has proved decisive, as well as minimal intervention in the winemaking process; both testify to the philosophy of striving to highlight the distinctive characteristics of each individual vineyard parcel.
The historic La Corte cru fully embodies this approach. With the 2017 vintage, it became a Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, thus joining the other prestigious cru, Il Picchio, which has been a Gran Selezione since 2011. “Both of these Sangiovese wines have always so impressed us that they deserved to bear the denomination’s highest quality designation,” commented Simone François.
“At 125 years from the founding of Castello di Querceto,” added Alessandro François, “La Corte continues to gift us a vibrant, comprehensive, and eloquent expression of our terroir. It amply demonstrates the incredible qualities of this growing area, as well as of the denomination that we are so proud to be a part of.”
Chianti Classico Gran Selezione La Corte 2019, released just recently on the market, is the fruit of a growing season which proved well-balanced and of impressive quality. Generous rainfall in the spring filled groundwater reserves that helped the vines cope with a dry summer. The heat was not excessive, however, thanks to Castello di Querceto’s elevation and to significant day-night temperature differences. Finally, very favourable weather in September and October allowed the winery to push back the start of harvest. The results were ideally-ripe clusters that yielded a taught, clean-edged, pleasurable Sangiovese.
“All in all, a perfect vintage for our celebration of such an important anniversary,” concluded Simone François, fourth generation of a family fiercely proud of its traditions, and one whose long history gives it the ability to see far into its future.
The winery, along with its agriturism and luxuriant park, lies in Dudda, in a small valley in the hills high above Greve, in north-central Tuscany. Here, the François family grow their wines in some 65 hectares of estate vineyards, subdivided into 26 individual parcels planted in Cretaceous-Eocene polychrome schists. In addition to the Chianti Classico line, led by the two Gran Selezione crus, La Corte and Il Picchio, the portfolio boasts various IGT crus, Il Cignale, Il Querciolaia, Il Sole di Alessandro (Cabernet Sauvignon), and QueRceto Romantic, an elegant blend of Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Syrah.
Citizenship in the contemporary world and responsibility to the local environment and to future generations require a commitment to sustainability, and thus Castello di Querceto has been a certified participant in the Italian government’s ViVa program since 2022.