Posts tagged ‘chianti rufina’
Vineyards in the Chianti Rufina district near Selvapiana (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
Earlier this year, I wrote a post about Chianti Rufina, the district east of Florence, where a few dozen wine estates produce some of the longest-lived of all Chianti wines. I recently visited this area again for an anteprima event, where soon-to-be released wines are tasted out for journalists from around the world.
There were wines from 2008, 2009 and 2010 sampled; the first two vintages are either on the market or will be very soon, while the 2010s will not be available for four to six months at least. Each vintage showed well, though 2008 is admittedly a lighter vintage (as it was all over Tuscany). The 2009s showed excellent ripeness as well as acidity and it’s this combination that makes these wines so highly recommended. 2009 was a ripe year in Tuscany, but in some zones, the acidity is a problem, resulting in forward wines that do not have the proper acidity or structure. That is no problem with most of the wines from Rufina, as the high elevation of the vineyards – generally from 500 to 1600 feet above sea level – means a longer growing season with extra hangtime for the grapes along with better acidity and structure.
Among my favorite wines at this event were two from Frescobaldi, the 2009 Chianti Rufina Riserva “Nipozzano” and the 2009 Montesodi. The first is a delicious Chianti with lovely strawberry and bing cherry aromas and flavors, moderate tannins and tart acidity. This wine has been a favorite of mine for many years (it’s also been a favorite with consumers as well, judging by sales) and it’s so typically Tuscan- it’s a great introduction to Chianti, for those still trying to learn about this wine type.
The Montesodi is a 100% Sangiovese that’s richer and longer-lived than the Nipozzano; it’s also more tannic and needs more time to show its best. This 2009 looks to be one of the best of the decade and should show beautifully in another 5-7 years, though it will be a delightful dinner wine in another year. As this is a richer style of Sangiovese, pair this wine with veal or pork, while the Nipozzano would be delightful with more humble pasta dishes or fresh percorino cheese.
Faye Lottero, Fattoria Lavacchio (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
I also greatly enjoyed the wines from Fattoria Lavacchio as well. This small estate produces wines in an earthier style than Frescobaldi – the wines are different, but no less qualitywise. The 2010 Chianti Rufina “Cedro” has appealing red plum fruit with a hint of tobacco and offers nice complexity; enjoy this over the next 3-5 years. The 2009 Riserva is infused with black plum and strawberry fruit aromas and has been aged in oak a touch longer than the Cedro; medium-full and stylish with good acidity, this should drink well for 7-10 years.
Other wines I enjoyed were the 2009 Tenuta Bossi Marchesi Gondi Riserva “Pian dei Sorbi”, with its red cherry and jasmine aromas; the lovely 2009 Colognole Riserva with beautiful complexity and structure (best in 7-10 years); the regular 2010 Fattoria di Griganano, with its lovely freshness and beautiful floral aromas and the 2009 Il Capitano Riserva, which combines good freshness and ripness in an elegant package.
I also visited Selvapiana, one of the finest estates in any of the Chianti districts and will report on those wines in a future post.
During my recent trip to Toscana, I was able to visit the Chianti Rufina zone for two days; this district, located east and slightly north of Florence, is a wine area that should definitely be better known.
There are seven Chianti districts in addition to the Chianti Classico zone and each has its own unique characteristics. For Chianti Rufina (pronounced roo-fee-nah), it is the elevation of the vineyards that gives this area its identity. The plantings are between 150 to 500 meters (500 to 1640 feet) above sea level; this means that the vineyards in Rufina are on average, the highest in terms of elevation of any Chianti district, including Chianti Classico (vineyards here are generally between 100-300 meters above sea level).
According to Barbara Tamburini, consulting enologist for this zone’s Fattoria di Grignano, the high elevation means a longer ripening time on the vine and higher acidity; the combination of which makes for longer-lived wines. “At the higher elevations,” she notes, “we receive more direct, pure sunlight, which helps ripening.”
There are about 22 producers in Chianti Rufina, most of whom produce Chianti Rufina DOCG of course, but there are other wines of note from this area as well. At Fattoria Lavacchio, Dimitri Sidorinko and Faye Lottero produce a lovely white named Pachar, a flavorful, elegant blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, while at Fattoria di Lago, the 2007 PInot Nero displays good varietal character and offers very nice complexity.
There are two very famous wine estates in Chianti Rufina: Frescobaldi and Selvapiana. The former is one of the best-known producers from any of the Chianti districts and their Nippozano Riserva has become a household name for Chianti. I tasted the 2007, which has typical forward fruit, moderate tannins, is easy-drinking and of course, has lovely Chianti typicity.
I also sampled their top two reds: the 2007 Mormoreto, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot and the 2007 Montesodi. The first wine is quite ripe with black currant fruit and a hint of olive in the aromas with young tannins and the stuffing to age for 10-12 years (perhaps longer). The Montesodi is even better; this wine, a long-time favorite of mine is a 100% Sangiovese that is silky, flavorful and just beautifully made each year. This 2007 displays the richness of this vintage in Tuscany, while also offering a lot of finesse. While this is tempting to consume now, it will offer even greater pleasures in another 7-10 years, though given the track record of this wine, this bottling may indeed drink well for as long as another 15-20 years.
At Selvapiana, owner Federico Giuntini Masseti has helped elevate this estate into one of the most consistent from any Chianti district. The 2009 Chianti Rufina normale is a beauty, with textbook red cherry and currant fruit mingled with notes of allspice and cinnamon; it’s a lovely wine for the next 2-3 years. A step up in concentration is the 2007 “Vigneto Buerchiale” Chianti Rufina Riserva. Sourced from the estate’s best vineyard, which is 40 years old, this 100% Sangiovese has delicious red plum and red cherry fruit and polished tannins. It’s an elegant wine that is a joy to drink now and it will offer pleasure for another 7-10 years.
I also want to note the elegance of the wines from Colognole, a moderate-sized estate managed by Cesare Coda Nunziante. I was impressed by this man’s no-nonsense attitude and his down-to-earth manner; he is clearly not looking for high scores, but rather, he is after making the most typical wines he can from his vineyards. I tasted three vintages of his Chianti Rufina normale (2008, ’07 and ’06), with the ’06 showing the most complexity at this point, though the ’07 will eventually display greater complexities in a few years, while the ’08 is a lovely wine for current consumption. His Riservas are naturally bigger wines, yet they are quite elegant and thankfully, the oak is minimal while the acidity is nicely tuned; the 2007 is especially impressive.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was the quality of the wines at Fattoria di Vetrice, a small estate run by the Grati family. These wines offer lovely varietal purity, very good acidity and an extremely delicate touch when it comes to wood. The regular Chianti Rufina 2008 is a tasty wine for consumption over the next year or two and has an elegant, lightly spicy finish. The riserva bottlings are extremely impressive, both the 2006 and especially the 2004; not only do they offer more depth of fruit as well as greater complexity, but the wines are impeccably balanced and display beautiful freshness. Too often I have tasted various riserva wines from various Chianti districts that are too over oaked; the result being that the fruit is muted in the aromas and on the palate with the wines having a slightly bitter edge to them. This is definitely not the case at Vetrice- these are wines that are a pleasure to drink and ones that superbly represent their terroir. For me, this is one of the finest estates in all of Chianti.
Finally, I want to note the 2004 Vin Santo from Grignano. Amber gold with aromas of almond and pear, this has excellent concentration, beautiful complexity and impressive persistence; the cleansing acidity gives the wine a dry finish. This has remarkable freshness for a 16 year old wine and yes, this is the current release of this wine from Grignano! It is a first-rate Vin Santo – complimenti to winemaker Barbara Tamburini!
As I wrote at the beginning of this post, Chianti Rufina is a district that should be better known. There are several outstanding producers here and the overall quality of the wines is quite high. I’ll write soon about a wonderful restaurant named Mulino al Vento near Pontassieve that highlights the wines of the district and offers some of the best grilled meats and poultry I’ve tasted anywhere in Tuscany. Another reason to recommend Chianti Rufina!
Every wine lover knows Chianti, even if they don’t know exactly where this wine originates. In this post, I’d like to discuss the various districts of the Chianti zone in Tuscany.
Chianti Classico, the heart of the Chianti zone, between the cities of Florence and Siena, is the most famous of all Chianti districts. I will talk about the wines from here in a future post, but for today, I will be writing about the seven Chianti districts that have been unified under the Chianti Consorzio, all with similar laws on production of the wines.
The seven districts are as follows:
Chianti Colli Fiorentini
Chinati Colli Senesi
Chianti Colline Pisani
Chianti Colli Aretini
The districts are all named for a city or for a geographical area; thus Chanti Colli Fiorentini is the Chianti district in the hills of Florence, Chianti Colli Senesi refers to the hills of Siena and so forth. In each district, Chianti is made from a minimum of 75% Sangiovese, although current regulations do allow for a 100% Sangiovese in each district. Blended wines often contain other local red varieties, such as Colorino or Mammolo, but international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are allowed as part of the blend of these Chianti wines, as long as they do not exceeed 10% of the blend. Since 1967, all Chiantis made here that adhere to the regulations, may be labed as DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata).
Some of these districts are home to dozens of excellent producers (such as Chianti Classico Fiorentini and Senese), while others are rather small (Montespertoli and Pisane). In fact, it is becoming more difficult to find a Chianit Colline Pisane these days, as producers there are making more bottlings of proprietary wines than their regular bottlings of Chianti. The same holds true in Chianti Montalbano, as this is the area in which Carmignano, a DOCG Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend is produced. In each district though, producers can make a range of wines, from a simple Chianti to a Riserva; many also opt to make an IGT blend (known by many as Super Tuscans), made from local and/or international varieties.
The wines from these seven districts as a rule tend to be lighter than those from Chianti Classico, so they are easy drinking and quite approachable upon release. However, there are some excellent producers throughout these districts that craft some very special wines, ones that can age from 5-10 years. Among the most accomplished producers here, I would include Selvapiana and Frescobaldi (Chianti Rufina); Castelvecchio, Castello di Poppiano and San Michele a Torri (Chianti Colli Fiorentini); and Fattoria Sannino (Chianti Montespertoli).
Here are lists of some of the other leading producers in these districts:
Chianti Colli Fiorentini: Lanciola (this estate also produces Chianti Classico), Fattoria la Colombaia, Le Querce
Chianti Colli Senesi: Castello di Farnetella, Tenuta di Trecciano, Le Bertille, Villa Sant Anna
Chianti Montalbano: Tenuta di Cappezzana, Ambra
Chianti Montespertoli: Fattoria Poggio Capponi, Tenuta Trecento, Tenuta Cortina e Mandorli
Chianti Colli Pisane: Badia di Morrona, Tenuta di Ghizzano
Chianti Rufina: Travagnoli, Villa di Vetrice, Renzo Masi
Chianti Colli Aretini: Mannucci Droandi, Villa a Sesta, Ruspante
One final note: Many of these producers also make the wonderful dessert wine, Vin Santo (“the wine of the saints” or “the holy wine”). This is generally made from the white varieties Trebbiano and Malvasia, which after harvest are laid on mats in a temperature controlled room to dry. After a few months, the grapes have shriveled, almost to the size of raisins and are then fermented in very small barrels called caratelli. The wine is then left to age in the caratelli for five years before being bottled. The resulting wine is amber gold in color with moderate sweetness and aromas and flavors of almond, dried honey, marzipan, butterscotch and sherry notes. This is a wine that is difficult and costly to produce and only the best versions still show a freshness upon release. Among all the producers in these Chianti districts, my favorite Vin Santo is made at Selvapiana.