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.