Rocca di Frassinello winery is a joint venture between Castellare di Castellina and Domaines Barons de Rothschild-Château Lafite, an unmistakable name in the greatest wines of France and of the world.
Paolo Panerai and Barone Eric de Rothschild specifically selected the hill in front of the town of Giuncarico, in the municipality of Gavorrano, as the ideal place to cultivate vineyards. Here a constant breeze is channelled from the sea, wicking moisture and moderating the climate both in winter and summer. It took two years to unite the five plots that make up the estate’s 500 hectares, of which 83 are planted to vine. Vineyards of Sangioveto (a specific Sangiovese clone selected at Castellare that represents 50% of total hectares), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Vermentino give birth to wines that combine the best of Italy and France.
To further validate the international ambitions of the estate, architect Renzo Piano signed the project of the cellar: an elegant and highly functional building on the highest hill of the amphitheater of Rocca di Frassinello. "The more you fall in love with a place, the more you make it yours. You start with an idea. And so the story goes". It was love at first sight for Renzo Piano, who fondly remembers the helicopter rides over the hills of Maremma between Giuncarico and Gavorrano on which Rocca di Frassinello would eventually be designed; the first and only cellar signed by the great Italian architect.
A timeless structure that is a hymn to lightness; not the classic cellar that – according to Piano – ends up being a “monument to itself”. Rather, its discreet and poetic presence finds its greatest symbolism in the red tower visible even at a distance.
Renzo Piano has conceived an essential cellar in its form exalting the purpose and functionality of what is a productive place with a division of revolutionary spaces and an exceptional attention to the vinification process. In the initial winemaking stage the space allows for reliance on gravity as opposed to oenological pumps, the use of which tend to deteriorate the quality of a grape harvested exclusively by hand.
The tower captures the light of the sun and – using a system of mirrors – illuminates the impressive barrel room that is excavated into the rocky terrain reaching a depth of 50 meters, where up to 2,000 barrels rest in gentle darkness. Like watchful eyes encircling the room, they seem to observe the cellar’s visitors. Climbing the stairs outside of the cellar, one faces the project’s other spirit: a modern pavilion in glass accented with brushed steel, an ideal setting for tastings, events, exhibitions, congresses and lunches. Outside, a huge terrace in terracotta – baptized as “the churchyard” by the architect – extends over 5 thousand square meters towards a seemingly endless horizon of the Maremma’s rolling hills.
At Rocca di Frassinello guests are treated to a fascinating journey through time, from the futuristic architecture of Renzo Piano’s cellar, to Italo Rota’s experience – The Etruscans and Wine at Rocca di Frassinello – whose ancient finds prove the profound history of winemaking on this site, dating back almost three millennia ago. The journey ends with a wine tasting in the pavillon where the Rapture of the Grape is displayed: a work by the great American artist, David LaChapelle, who was inspired by Rocca’s unique sense of place. Concluding the visit in the cellar, a short walk leads to Rocca di Frassinello’s Etruscan archeological site, San Germano, accessible from within the property.
Rocca di Frassinello produces 6 reds, two whites and one grappa. The range of white wines starts with Vermentino, a fresh, harmonious and mineral wine that enhances the qualities of this vine which has found its ideal habitat in Maremma. From the selection of the best Vermentino grapes, the new Rocca di Frassinello Bianco was born, which spends 10 months in contact with the yeasts to give life to a grand cru with a full and silky sip, of great persistence, that can age for a long time in the bottle. The range of reds is based on a blend of Sangioveto, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The entry level wine is Poggio alla Guardia Vigne Alte, a red with a strong personality and great drinkability that does not age in barrique. Next comes Ornello, the only one to have a percentage of Syrah in the blend. And then there is Le Sughere di Frassinello, a wine with soft and smooth tannins with a long and enveloping finish, included in the Top 100 of Wine Spectator at its fifth harvest. The grand vin of the company is the Rocca di Frassinello, a wine that manages to combine strength, elegance and intensity, which in 2022 was joined by Rocca di Frassinello San Germano, obtained from the best grapes of the vineyards that grow on San Germano hill where the homonymous Etruscan necropolis was found, proving that the vine here was already cultivated 3,000 years ago. The top wine of the range is Baffonero, a 100% Merlot Maremma Toscana DOC produced in a few bottles and considered today one of the best Merlot in the world.