Castello di Querceto Chianti Classico Gran Selezione: Il Picchio and La Corte

The role of the Francois family of Castello di Querceto is profound in the viticultural history of Tuscany. Since 1897 when Carlo Francois purchased the castle built in the Middle Ages located in Greve in Chianti. Of French origin, the family can count among its members some illustrious ancestors such as the brothers Giuseppe, a talented mathematician, and Alessandro, a famous archaeologist. In relation to viticulture, they hold the fundamental position of being one of the 33 founding members of the Chianti Classico Consortium that was founded in 1924.

During that time, estate-grown wine was being made from the surrounding vineyards within its cellars. Recognizing the innate quality of Sangiovese, Carlo began to make monovarietal wine from a small vineyard parcel that was particularly promising. In 1911 it was already the winner of an international wine award. Success has always followed the wines of Castello di Querceto from then on. Today, it is among the reference names of the denomination, often achieving high scores from international critics.

The estate’s modern history began with Alessandro Francois with his pioneering concept of the Chianti Classico cru. Since 1970, he was responsible in the studying of 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. 

"At the beginning of the 20th century, my great-grandfather decided to bet on the La Corte vineyard, which he pioneered with only Sangiovese," states the producer Alessandro Francois. "I took up his baton and tried to follow a rigorous method to make the most of that vineyard and other precious parcels." 

With this in mind, when Alessandro Francois studied the soils of the estate, he discovered the recurring elements such as polychrome schists, responsible for particular mineral nuances in the wines, but also a great diversity of soils. The studies have helped recognize the diverse characteristics of the vineyards. The La Corte vineyard is characterized by high percentages of sand, while the Il Picchio vineyard has soils based on clay and limestone. These diversity greatly influence the personalities that the wines from the specific vineyards give. The Sangiovese of La Corte is more characterized by elegance, while that of Il Picchio is more austere. 

The Castello di Querceto property extends to 190 hectares, 65 of which are planted with vineyards, 10 with olive groves and the rest is represented by oak and chestnut woods. The Francois family has always sought the authenticity of its territory and its emblematic grape Sangiovese through its wines. With progressive knowledge of their estate and its great potential, they have obtained their highest expression with the Chianti Classico Gran Selezione La Corte and Il Picchio. 

The Chianti Classico collection of Castello di Querceto includes two Gran Selezione: II Picchio and La Corte. "Both vineyards have always given us a lot of satisfaction, which is why over time we wanted them to represent our personal vision of the denomination at its peak," explains Alessandro Francois. "They are proud ambassadors of a territory in which we deeply believe and of which, year after year, we want to offer an increasingly lively and integral interpretation," continues Alessandro's son, Simone Francois, who today holds the helm of the family estate.

"To enhance our Gran Selezione we have increasingly refined our approach in the vineyard and in the cellar," says Simone Francois. In the vineyards, very short pruning is carried out, bunches are thinned when necessary and only organic fertilizers are used. Whereas in the cellar, to enhance their different characteristics even more markedly, the two wines follow the same path of vinification: fermentation and maceration in steel tanks at a controlled temperature for about two weeks, maturation in Troncais and Allier barrique and tonneaux for 12 months and bottle aging for 6 months before launching to the market.

Il Picchio is a cuvée of Sangiovese (95%) and Colorino (5%), the result of a single vineyard of 4.5 hectares at approximately 450 meters above sea level with east/southeast orientation. It is surrounded by a forest of oak and chestnut trees. The soil is composed of about 35% clay with limestone and microelements such as iron, magnesium and manganese, while it is poor in sand. This kind of soil tends to retain a lot of water. Born in 1988, Il Picchio was promoted from Chianti Classico Riserva to Gran Selezione with the 2011 vintage. Il Picchio is more varietal in its characteristics, being more fruit-forward with succulence on the palate. 

La Corte is obtained from pure Sangiovese harvested from 3.4 hectares of vineyards carrying the same name with about 70% sandy soil that is mostly sandy, poor in clay and limescale and rich in magnesium. It has an altitude between 440 and 470 meters above sea level and an orientation of to the west/southwest. The first vintage was born in 1904 in its first version and in 1978 in its current expression. Initially it was categorized as Vino da Tavola and subsequently, after the birth of the typology, as IGT Colli della Toscana Centrale, then in 2017, it entered the Chianti Classico Gran Selezione family. La Corte has more territorial characteristics, underlining the minerality of the soil, and balance with the varietal aromas.

Vintage 2020

The winter was rather dry but the cool spring of 2020 made up for the necessary water reserves in the soil with abundant rainfall between May and June. The summer was then hot and long but with good day-night temperature variations. This seasonal trend led to a slightly delayed but optimal maturation, with a more limited yield than normal but very promising on a qualitative level, especially in terms of structure and balance. The latest vintage of the Il Picchio and La Corte released to the market in 2024.

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione La Corte DOCG 2020. Full ruby red in the glass with a nose of blueberries and blackberries and a hint of eucalyptus while in the mouth, the dark berries are perceived along with silky tannins, freshness and long finish.
Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Il Picchio DOCG 2020. A delicate floral and fruity nose with red berries and notes of fresh herbs while on the palate, the acidity is pronounced and ends with persistence and roundness.

Vintage 2019

The abundant rains in April and May produced important water reserves. The vegetative cycle, which started later than average, saw a very dry June, with a few days of rain at regular intervals in the following months which favored the regular development and balance of the bunches. The particularly favorable climate of September and October, and the veraison delayed by about two weeks compared to the norm (mid/late August), allowed the harvest to be postponed, obtaining a result of great quality. Both wines expresses beautifully in this vintage.

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione La Corte DOCG 2019. In the glass, it shows a great complex personality with intense notes of crushed stone, black berries, sour cherries, undergrowth and a hint floral accent. It has decisive flavors on the palate, very soft, with refined tannins and persistent finish. A display of excellence in the bottle now and in more years ahead.
Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Il Picchio DOCG 2019. Almost impenetrable dense ruby red color in the glass with a nose that of dark fruits like blackberries, sour cherries and plum and notes of undergrowth and tobacco. A hint of chocolate on the palate, and dark fruits, muscular, harmonious and elegant.

Vintage 2018

At the end of the winter, temperatures were lower than average, with values as low as -6°C, while starting from the second half of March there was a rapid rise in temperatures which led to early budding of the vines. A rather rainy May was followed by a summer with little rain but well spaced out, while a sunny September allowed the grapes to reach excellent ripeness. After the limited production of 2017, the quantities of the 2018 harvest have returned to normal.

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione La Corte DOCG 2018. Minerals are pronounced in the nose with notes of crushed stone, flint and robust black fruits like black cherries and blackberries with a hint of red currant and blush while in the mouth, the pronounced acidity lingers and finishes with persistence.
Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Il Picchio DOCG 2018. Dense ruby red which is almost impenetrable with concentration of dark fruits in the nose, undergrowth and cocoa while on the palate there is a light sweetness, concentration and fullness.

Vintage 2000

The winter was characterized by above average temperatures and the spring was also sunny. The summer and the harvest period had the favor of the sun and high temperatures: optimal conditions which led the grapes to excellent ripeness.

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione La Corte DOCG 2000. Full ruby red in color. The first aromas that greet you are the crushed stone and flint, earth, tobacco, leather, dark fruits and notable freshness while on the palate, it shows more evolution, the acidity is spread thin, silky tannins and quite a persistence in the end.
Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Il Picchio DOCG 2000. Dense ruby red with prominence of black fruits, undergrowth, licorice and tobacco. The dark fruits follow in the mouth, round and a light aftertaste of bitterness. Long finish and harmonious.

Wine Pairing with Dishes of Il Convivio Troiani

The restaurant, opened by brothers Angelo, Giuseppe and Massimo, has a 30-year history of dedication and hard work. They attained their Michelin star in 1993, three years after its creation. The kitchen, headed by Angelo Troiani, reflects the Italian culinary heritage of tradition and flavors and redefines them to innovative creations. In 2013, they chose an organic route and has been certified by the Istituto Mediterraneo di Certificazione with “Conosci il Tuo Pasto” (Know Your Meal). The restaurant has the fundamental role of using primarily organic raw materials from biodynamic and organic agricultural chains that enhance the origin of products and production methods that respect the environment  which are designated with Denominazione di Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin) and Indicazione Geografica Protteta (Protected Geographical Indication). This means that their cooking philosophy has embraced the green and natural approach as well which makes them the first starred restaurant to obtain it.

Pairing Menu:

Roasted stuffed quail with "cacciatora" sauce paired with Chianti Classico Gran Selezione La Corte 2020, 2019 and 2018
Grilled marango beef three sauces, chicory and Jerusalem artichoke purée paired with Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Il Picchio 2020, 2019 and 2018

Castello di Querceto

Address: Via A. François 2, 50022 Greve in Chianti (FI), Italy
Tel: +39 055 85921