Castello di Verrazzano Rosso
Castello di Verrazzano Rosso at Pizzeria Mozza


Every time I taste a new Chianti I am reminded how much I love Sangiovese.  It’s a heart-warming grape, full of everything wine-lovers crave in red wine.  Tannin, acidity, fruit.  You can age it.  You can drink it on release.  And Sangiovese is a wonderful platform to showcase terroir- dusty tannins become apparent.  Red soil reads through in iron-laced minerality.  The hot Tuscan sun warms the fruit from red to black. Castello di Verrazzano’s beautiful wines are no exception.  I had the pleasure of meeting Luigi and Silvia Cappellini at Newport Beach’s Mozza for dinner recently, where we tasted their wines with the simplest and most delicious dinner of pizza and salumi.  The wines were gorgeous and the company was  absolutely brilliant.

Chianti Classico

Silvia and Luigi are the most recent guardians of the Castello di Verrazzano estate, a beautiful and ancient piece of land in Greve, whose boundaries and vineyards have not changed since 1170.  As we flipped through some photos I felt my heartstrings tugging.  Toscana, and all its old stone casteles and proud cypress trees… how can you not fall in love with this place?  The 2010 Chianti Classico we tasted is made in a very traditional way, using only Sangiovese and another local grape called Cannaiolo.  I really enjoyed the mouthfeel- small, elegant tannins punctuating a broad, silky texture that made me want another sip.  And a piece of prosciutto.


Luigi turned one of the menus over so he could sketch out a few details for Patton Penhallegon, Wine Director at Mozza, Newport Beach.  Luigi is a fantastic artist…


Luigi explained that the name “Verrazzano” is a tribute to the local wild boars. The biggest and most powerful of the males (can you see the arrow pointing to the pisolino?) were locally called “verra” coming from the local area or zone (“zano“).

Risvera 2-1The artist at work.  ( While I taste this 2006 Riserva…)


More of Luigi’s handiwork.  Did I mention he has a fantastic sense of humor?

famiglia-1I believe these two determined they have some long-lost family connection.  Famiglia!

oui chef-1

Mozza Newport Chef Emily Corliss and Chef Jonathan Gjorup enjoyed the wines too, as evidenced by the smiling…

What a pleasure to meet the Cappellini family.  Should you have the pleasure yourself you will quickly see how determined they are to spread the gospel of Sangiovese and Chianti.  Another reason to plan a trip to Chianti… as if I needed one more.