Chianti Rufina is the highest part of Chianti with altitudes up to 550 m above sea level. It has complex soils of marl, clay and calcareous sediments and has a reputation for making some of the best Sangiovese based Tuscan wines as was officially recognized with its elevation to DOCG status in 1984. It has 750 hectares of vines, which are located within 20 km of Florence.
Twenty-two producers make wine in Chianti Rufina, and we tasted most of them at the Anteprime Toscana held recently in Florence. Of the wines presented, we’ve selected our four favorite estates to write about below. A number of vintages were presented at the Anteprime, ranging from new releases of the 2014 vintage to riservas from 2009 and 2010.
Marchesi De’ Frescobaldi. The Frescobaldi family began making wine in the 14th century. Today the family under the leadership of Lamberto Frescobaldi makes high quality wines throughout Tuscany. Frescobaldi’s Chianti Rufina estate is called Castello di Nipozzano. US Importer: Folio Fine Wine
Frescobaldi 2014 Castiglioni Chianti 88 The all steel fermented and aged Castiglioni isn’t a complex wine, but it’s nonetheless very appealing with its superb fresh red cherry fruit that permeates the wine from the aroma to the finish. Beautifully and pure flavored with red cherry and hints of herbs. Note that this wine is not from Rufina. Frescobaldi 2013 Vecchie Viti Riserva Chianti Rufina 90 Made from the estates oldest vines, the Riserva shows fresh scents of spicy dark cherry. It has a medium body weight, pure flavors, and ripe tannins. The Riserva spends 24 months in large oak botti. Frescobaldi 2012 Castello di Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Rufina 89+ This Sangiovese blend with contributions from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot reveals red cherry with earth notes on the nose and the palate. The fruit has an attractive purity to it but finishes on the light side, like many wines from the 2012 vintage. Spends 24 months in barrique.
Fattoria Lavacchio. The Lottero brothers from Genoa purchased Lavacchio in 1978 and restored the estate to its previous splendour. Located on top of the 450m high Montefiesole, the estate’s 20 ha of vines are certified organic. The fruit is hand harvested, fermented using natural yeast, and uses the bare minimum of sulfites. US importers include Montcalm, Bon Vivant, and others.
Lavacchio 2014 Cedro Chianti Rufina 89 Comprised of 90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo Nero and 5% Ciliegiolo, the Cedro is aged in large botti and cement vats for 24 months. The wine is bright, fresh and shows pure, unadulterated cherry and pomegranate fruit with a red raspberry accent. This very young wine reveals gripping tannins and a dry finish. Lavacchio 2013 Cedro Chianti Rufina 89 Richly aromatic and flavored of cherry and cedar spice, the 2013 Cedro is very well balanced. It shows dry tannins but has a long finish. Lavacchio 2013 Cedro Riserva Chianti Rufina 90 Medium ruby in color showing enticing scents of red cherry and wood spice. The palate is silky smooth with pure red fruit flavors and just a hint of earth. Suave tannins suggest this wine will be ready to drink earlier than usual for a riserva. Lavacchio 2009 Cedro Riserva Chianti Rufina 91 Aged in botti and barriques, the tannins in this Riserva have evolved and integrated beautifully. As a result the wine has a good backbone but finishes with a bit of grip. The palate is smooth and reveals complex earthy, dark fruit flavors. A blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot matured for 18 months in French barriques. Lavacchio 2009 Ludiè Chianti Rufina 92 This well-oaked, all Sangiovese single vineyard wine planted in 1963 is elegant and precisely balanced. With a nose of cherry, vanilla and light notes of toasted oak, it delivers a silky smooth attack and a delicious palate of well integrated fruit and oak. Aged 24 months in new French barriques.
Marchesi Gondi Tenuta Bossi. The 315 ha Bossi estate is located Northeast of Florence at 200-400 meters of altitude where wine has been produced by the Gondi family for at least four centuries. Today, Bernardo and his sister Donatella Gondi run the estate and its 19 ha of vines. The US importer is Quigley Fine Wines.
Marchesi Gondi 2011 Pian dei Sorbi Riserva Chianti Rufina 90+ Showing lovely pure dark red fruit on the nose, the Pian dei Sorbi is precise, fresh, and full in the mouth with a soft mouth feel and round tannins. It’s beautifully balanced and delicious. A blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Colorino. Age 24 months in French oak. Marchesi Gondi 2010 Villa Bossi Riserva Chianti Rufina 92 One of the best Chianti Rufinas we tasted at the Anteprime, the Villa Bossi offers a perfumed nose of vanilla and dark cherry and a layered palate, sensuous velvet-like in texture, with seamless integration of oak and fruit and excellent balance. A blend of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Colorino, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Azienda Agricola Travignoli. Located in the Pelago hills east of Florence, wine was made at Travignoli by the Etruscans as early as 500 AD. Today, it has about 70 ha under vine under the management of Giovanni Busi. Travignoli also makes a Chianti Rufina wine called Busi, which we were unable to taste. Imported by Fran Kysela.
Travignoli 2014 Chianti Rufina 89 Medium dark ruby. Showing notes of spice and dark fruit on the nose, this youthful wine reveals and amazingly suave, velvet like mouth feel and good depth of earthy, dark red fruit. It has good depth of flavor and finishes with medium length. Matured 6 months in barrel and 6 months in stainless steel. Travignoli 2013 Tegolaia Riserva Chianti Rufina 90 Dark ruby in color, showing dark cherry and plum fruit, the Riserva displays a velvet smooth mouth feel despite its youth. Savory, spicy dark fruit shows on the palate with firm, ripe tannins. A beauty. Travignoli 2010 Tegolaia Riserva Chianti Rufina 91 This is a wine from the outstanding 2010 vintage. It’s pure and smooth with excellent depth of flavor, good balance, and a very persistent finish. Spends 20 months in barrel.