Querciabella: The Super Tuscan wine that caused a diplomatic stir

 
Paul Hammond
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A bottle of Querciabella’s flagship red wine Camartina, a one of a kind Super Tuscan (Source: Getty)

Querciabella has a special place in the hearts of wine lovers, yet its wines are a matter of vexation for French ambassadors and with good reason.

The award-winning winery makes a range of seven distinct wines that reflect the rich diversity of Tuscan terroir, including its flagship red wine Camartina, which, as a Super Tuscan with a Burgundian leitmotif, is one of a kind.

Its polemic white wine Batár is often described as the “white Sassicaia”, and it’s so Burgundian it caused legal consternation in the 90s – I mean, who grows Pinot Blanc in the Chianti region anyway?

The genesis of these two great wines began in the 1970s with Giuseppe Castiglioni, a Milanese industrialist and one of Italy’s largest wine collectors. Castiglioni, who was part of the Super Tuscan vanguard, wanted to synthesise wine in Chianti, Italy, in the style of his favourite region, Burgundy.

He purchased some of the most elevated vineyards in the municipality of Greve and later these were extended to Panzano, Radda and Gaiole.

He then wasted no time in employing master consultant Giacomo Tachis (1993-2003), the consultant responsible for a cadre of leading wineries including Tignanello and Solaia.

One special vineyard was planted in earnest with Pinot Blanc – unheard of in Tuscany – and made in the style of a white Burgundy. Later, Chardonnay was added to the blend.

When the oenologist presented the first vintage to Giuseppe Castiglioni he was so impressed it was given the name Bâtard-Pinot in homage to white Burgundy.

The wine quickly became a contender for Tuscany’s finest white wine, eventually finding its way to the lips of the French Ambassador.

The French government threatened legal action and, in 1995 the name was changed to Batàr, the Lombardy dialect for bastard and beaten.

The name is etymologically linked to the term Batonnage, the process of stirring fine lees which, poetically, was a key feature of the winemaking implemented to add complexity and depth.

As a result of this name change the French government were left with no legal grounds and this remarkable wine remains Batàr to this day.

And to prove its enduring appeal, we hosted an event with Querciabella this week and the wines were just as good as ever.

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