Chianti Rufina and the wines of Castello Nipozzano
The history of Rufina wines begins between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance. The first evidence of wine grapes in this area date back to the fifteenth century, although the official recognition would come three centuries later, with the Editto del Granduca di Toscana (Edict of the Grand Duke of Tuscany). In the announcement by Cosimo III of 24 September 1716, the wine produced in this area was in fact classified among the best four in Tuscany.
This value of Chianti Rufina is recognized even today despite it being the smallest of the Chianti sub-zones with regard to area under cultivation (just over 12,400 hectares). It is one of the most productive areas, with more than 7% of land area planted with vineyards. (Source: Wikipedia)
Good wine in a small sub-zone
It is impossible to speak about “Chianti" without making some necessary clarifications. The wines produced in this area all have very different characteristics and that is why the first territorial delimitation of Chianti wine was established by Ministerial Decree in 1932. From here the various geographical specifications were created, including that of Chianti Rufina, the smallest of the seven sub-zones.
This still wine with a ruby red colour therefore takes its name from the historic territory dedicated to wine production for centuries and located about 20 km northeast of Florence, on the slopes of the Tuscan-Romagna Apennines. Specifically, the cultivation of the vineyards destined for producing Chianti Rufina are found, according to the specifications, in the municipalities of Pontassieve, Rufina, Londa, Pelago and Dicomano.
Currently there are 22 producers of Chianti Rufina, for the most part members of the Consortium of the same name. About 3,500,000 bottles of this highly prized wine are marketed each year.
From this it is clear that the fame of this denomination is not linked to large quantities produced, but to the peculiarities of the Sangiovese grapes that grow in this territory and to the high level of quality achieved by the continuous innovations made by the producing companies in the vineyards and cellars. (Source: Consorzio Chianti Rufina)
How Chianti Rufina is produced
Chianti Rufina is required to comply with certain rules, first of all the use of a specific ampelographic composition (the varieties allowed to be used for production), which includes, in addition to 70%-100% Sangiovese also other grapes from varieties suitable for cultivation in Tuscany. In particular:
• White grape varieties cannot, individually or together, exceed a maximum limit of 10%;
• Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties cannot, individually or together, exceed a maximum limit of 15%.
Added to this are specific indications on the processing and ageing, in particular the Reserve type must age 24 months, with at least 6 months in wooden casks. Also, according to the specifications, the wine must be released for consumption starting 1 September of the year following the harvest.
Vin Santo del Chianti Rufina DOC is also produced in the same area. According to the specifications introduced in 1997, it is made up of, Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia del Chianti, individually or together, for a minimum of 70%, together with authorized red and/or white grape varieties up to 30%. (Source:)
Characteristics of Chianti Rufina wines
Chianti Rufina is an elegant wine, with a decisive personality, slightly tannic with a bold acidity. The nose recalls floral scents, notes of berries and spices, while on the palate it is harmonious, flavourful and soft.
These organoleptic qualities are largely conferred by the zone of cultivation of the grapes which is characterized by a particular geological conformation. The soil where the vines designated for Rufina are cultivated is composed of marl and limestone. Exposed to the south/south-west, it rises to 400 metres above sea level. These factors play an important role in the grapes reaching an optimal ripening.
Finally, the micro-climate of this area, with the wide temperature variations of warm days and cool nights contributes to the maintaining the aromatic notes and development of a strong acidity. (Source: Consorzio Chianti Rufina)
Chianti Rufina wines from the Tenuta Castello Nipozzano
Castello Nipozzano, an ancient stronghold dating to the year 1000, is located in the heart of the prestigious Chianti Rufina area, right on the hillside overlooking the Arno river valley. It has been the property of the Frescobaldi family for centuries.
By popular tradition, Nipozzano means "no well", witnessing that water was scarce in the area - an ideal condition for growing grapes. Historical data confirm that already in the Renaissance a high quality wine was produced here and purchased by artists of the calibre of Donatello and Michelozzo Michelozzi.
After more than a century, the care of these magnificent vineyards led to the production of the prestigious Chianti Rufina.
One of these is Nipozzano Riserva, a Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG, symbol of Tuscan winemaking tradition and of the indissoluble bond with the territory. The 2017 harvest gave us grapes that were full-bodied and rich in colour. Transferred to the cellar for vinification after the harvest with spontaneous fermentation in temperature-regulated stainless steel tanks followed by maceration in vats and fermentation again in steel. Then, at the end of the year as per specification, the wine is transferred to wooden barrels where it undergoes a months-long maturation period, finishing with further ageing in the bottle, before being released for consumption.
The process so structured has led to a wine with an outstanding expressive balance and intense, harmonious character with a brilliant ruby red colour. Notes of red fruits and citrus are expressed in a seductive combination of elegance and intensity. Tertiary notes like spices and vanilla, due to the ageing in casks, enhance the aromas and contribute to a balanced tasting experience. The palate is rich, dense and balanced, with a great expression of maturity, polyphenolic elegance and a persistent finish. For its excellent qualities, Nipozzano Riserva has recently been awarded the famous three glasses, the highest recognition by Gambero Rosso.
Montesodi, on the other hand, is the first Chianti Rufina Cru and represents the greatest expression of Sangiovese. Montesodi 2017, in particular, shows its usual intense ruby red colour accompanied by purple hues, and this is only a hint at its surprising concentration and undisputed vigour. With a powerful and incontrovertible elegance on the nose, it presents a seductive sequence of floral character that is harmoniously accompanied by rich notes of ripe fruit, red fruit, black fruit and plum. These aromatic elements are elegantly joined by a sweet spiciness. The palate surprises for its density and harmony, for the great elegance and silkiness of the tannins that accompany the tasting to arrive at a persistent and pleasant finish.
Nipozzano Vecchie Viti deserves a separate note as the wine chosen by the Frescobaldi family to continue the tradition of reserving a private collection for its new-borns. Hence the name, Vecchie Viti, as this Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG, originates from the grapes ripened on the oldest vines of the Tenuta Castello Nipozzano, those with a deep root system.
It is a wine of great complexity and harmony, matured 24 months in oak barrels, according to ancient Tuscan tradition. The 2017 vintage reveals a splendid intense and brilliant ruby red colour. The fruity notes, among the main descriptors, are divided between red and black berried fruits: raspberry, wild strawberry, black cherry, black currant and blackberry; these are supported by the sweetness of vanilla and complemented by balsamic notes. Light nuances of pepper and cinnamon can be perceived. On the palate it is rounded and of great elegance; the alcoholic and acidic components are perfectly balanced. Tannins are soft and well integrated. Fruity and juniper berry aftertaste. On the finish it is mineral and at the same time long and mellow.
With the fermented pomace of Chianti Rufina produced by the vineyards of Castello Nipozzano we also produce a special grappa with a clear, almost transparent colour that is elegant and intensely aromatic. Ideal after meals as a digestive, it pairs beautifully with the typical Tuscan dessert, Panforte, and with dark chocolate.