by Simone Bandini


Let’s start from our experience at the Castle of Albola, a four-course tasting accompanied with four wines of the estate. We meet the Milanese chef – but Tuscan by adoption – Alessandro Chiesa, while he’s baking strictly homemade bread in a wood oven: he has been at the reins of the brigade for a year now… – being in a castle let’s say “at the reins of his kitchen garrison!”


Friends Sara Bondi and Carloalberto Manca guide us through the courtyards and corridors of the mansion until, at the top of a steep staircase, we peek into a hall that opens into the valley: we see the silhouettes in the background of Alessandro Chiesa, busy near the oven, the jovial face illuminated by the warm light of the living flame.

Albola offers various tasting itineraries: the most significant is certainly the “Albola Experience” which we recommend and tell you about here. We are talking about four wines for tasting which are paired with as many courses, to fully enjoy the marriage of the chef’s refined Tuscan cuisine, combined with the best of the castle’s bottles: “Poggio alle Fate Toscana IGT”, “Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG”, ” Marangole Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG ”,“ Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC ”, (at a cost of € 40 per person).

Our guide, young and brilliant, talks to us about the grape processing processes, the refinements and many technical and agricultural curiosities, increasingly echo the memories of this powerful bastion, which dominates the hills of Chianti from the high buttresses to the east.

At the end of the visit, entranced by the powerful elegance of the castle and its cellars, kidnapped by the rolling theories of rows, slopes and rounded hills we are welcomed in an austere – as befits medieval things – dining room where the exhilarating crescendo of courses and glasses begin. The time has come to taste, without too many rules or questions: the first taste is a curious, revisited amuse-bouche: the “Panino al lampredotto”, showing off ancient and measured flavours.

Then it is the turn of the homemade “Spaghetti alla chitarra with black cabbage” garnished with Maremma ragout, perfectly balanced in proportion between the pastry and the ragù: another dish that is the unique expression of a few, well-kept flavours and methods. In the group of second courses comes an original, tasty “Arista al latte”, soft on the bite and delicious on the palate, accompanied by delicate mashed potatoes.

And finally the dessert: a “Salty muffin with raisins and blue goat”, served with the traditional Vin Santo that the castle skilfully refines in kegs, a meeting of perfectly harmonious and round flavours.

Between courses there are the right times for conversation: our table amiably gathers thoughts and impressions – while the glasses tell us in succession stories of vineyards, rushing winds, light rains, scorching sun. It spreads the aroma of woods and industrious aging.

In the summer, as already experienced in winter, special evenings will be proposed: haute cuisine and wine with the corollary of entertainment and shows, both musical and theatrical. It is also possible to book vertical tastings with wines from even very distant vintages or simply savour the poetry of these places in the ‘Wine Bar’ area.

All around the Castle, there is a strong variety of soils and essences, the rich biodiversity of this land: the most typical Chianti Classico Annata and Riserva bottles are flanked by the three Gran Selezione ‘Single Vineyard’ “Santa Caterina”, “Marangole” and the “Solatio”. Wines “with a high content of truth, identity and purity”, are the words of the director Alessandro Gallo. Distinct personality, therefore, marked by the ‘stony’ soil and the altitude, which give freshness, tension and acidity to these grapes.

If you choose to live an “Albola Experience Premium”, this includes the tasting of the “Santa Caterina Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG”, the “Solatìo Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG”, “Acciaiolo Toscana IGT” and finally the “Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC ”, (at a cost of € 50 per person).

Chef Alessandro Chiesa brings his professional koinè to the “Albola Experience”, made of a virtuous adaptation to the simplicity of the Tuscan countryside, with the tumultuous and metropolitan years of his Milanese and Venetian period behind him, in restaurants of sophisticated importance and history, including the famous “Savini” restaurant. It is child’s play for him – and for this reason natural and fun – to experiment and innovate the cuisine of this extraordinary Tuscan milieu, made up of very historic recipes and high-quality raw materials.


Info and tastings: Castello di Albola s.a.r.l., Via Pian d’Albola 31, Radda in Chianti (Si) / tel. 0577 738019 / /