Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Ricasoli, one of the oldest and most powerful noble families of tuscany in central Italy, important landholders between Florence and Siena for over a thousand years. The vast size of their holdings led the medieval republic of Florence to bar them from holding public office lest the combination of territorial dominion and civic position create a threat to republican liberties. Bettino Ricasoli (1809–80), a dominant figure in the political life of his time and the second prime minister of the newly united Italy in 1861, a dedicated agricultural experimenter and reformer, played a fundamental role in the revitalization of the viticulture of his time and invented what came to be the standard varietal formula for the production of chianti. Like all Tuscan landowners of the time, he believed that the sharecroppers should grow the grapes and the large commercial houses—principally controlled by the Tuscan nobility such as antinori and frescobaldi—would age and distribute the finished wines.