Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 2003
Production Area/Vineyard: Al Pino-Pesalova Stabbiello-Lungo Bosco
Tasting Notes: Fresh and fruity Rufina, with good length and fine tannins.
Selvapiana, located in the heart of the Chianti Rufina area of Tuscany, was founded by the Giuntini family in 1827, and is managed today by Silvia and Federico Giuntini Masseti. It is a typical Tuscan estate consisting of the owner's villa, cellars and other historic buildings — now no longer used — including an oil mill, granary and joiner's workshop.
For a long time, Selvapiana was a summer residence for Florentine bishops. It then belonged to a series of Florentine merchant families including the Scalandroni. Purchased in 1827 by Michele Giuntini Selvapiana, the estate now covers an area of 600 acres, of which 100 are devoted to vineyards and 75 to olive trees. Five generations of the Giuntini family have lived on the estate over the years.
The current owner, Francesco Giuntini Antinori, has dedicated a great deal of energy towards restoring the prestige that Chianti Rufina once enjoyed. In recent years, responsibility for running the estate has been taken over by Silvia and Federico Giuntini Masseti. They are sticking to the path forged by Francesco, and continue to work closely with Franco Bernabei, the consultant winemaker at Selvapiana since 1978.
Famous for its food-friendly, approachable wines and their storied history, Chianti is perhaps the best-known wine region of Italy. This appellation within Tuscany has it all: sweeping views of rolling hills, endless vineyards, the warm Mediterranean sun, hearty cuisine and a rich artistic heritage. Chianti includes seven subzones: Chianti Colli Fiorentini, Rufina, Montalbano, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane, Colli Aretini and Montespertoli, with area beyond whose wines can be labeled simply as Chianti.
However the best quality comes from Chianti Classico, in the heart of the Chianti zone, which is no longer a subzone of the region at all but has been recognized on its own since 1996. The Classico region today is delimited by the confines of the original Chianti zone protected since the 1700s.
Chianti wines are made primarily of Sangiovese, with other varieties comprising up to 25-30% of the blend. Generally, local varieties are used, including Canaiolo, Colorino and Mammolo, but international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah are allowed as long as they are grown within the same zone.
Basic, value-driven Chianti is simple and fruit-forward and makes a great companion to any casual dinner. At its apex, Chianti is full bodied but with good acidity, firm tannins, and notes of tart red fruit, dried herbs, fennel, balsamic and tobacco. Chianti Riserva, typically the top bottling of a producer, can benefit handsomely from a decade or two of cellaring.
The perfect intersection of bright red fruit and savory earthiness, Sangiovese is among Italy's elite red grape varieties and is responsible for the best red wines of Tuscany. While it is best known as the chief component of Chianti, it is also the main grape in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and reaches the height of its power and intensity in the complex, long-lived Brunello di Montalcino
Elsewhere throughout Italy, Sangiovese plays an important role in many easy-drinking, value-driven red blends and on the French island of Corsica, under the name Nielluccio, it produces excellent bright and refreshing red and rosé wines with a personality of their own. Sangiovese has also enjoyed success growing in California and Washington.
In the Glass
Sangiovese is a medium-bodied red with qualities of tart cherry, plum, sun dried tomato, fresh tobacco and herbs. High-quality, well-aged examples can take on tertiary notes of smoke, leather, game, potpourri and dried fruit. Corsican Nielluccio is distinguished by a subtle perfume of dried flowers.
Sangiovese is the ultimate pizza and pasta red—its high acidity, moderate alcohol, and fine-grained tannins create a perfect symbiosis with tomato-based dishes, braised vegetables, roasted and cured meat, hard cheese and anything off the barbecue.
Although it is the star variety of Tuscany, cult-classic “Super-Tuscan” wines may actually contain no Sangiovese at all! Since the 1970s, local winemakers have been producing big, bold wines as a blend of one or more of several international varieties—usually Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot or Syrah—with or without Sangiovese.