Growing seasons of the latest vintages and 2021 Wine Guide results
FLAVOURS OF A GROWING AREA
The wine critics and their various publications, the editors of the 2021 wine guides, and the columnists for the principal international journals have all found 2020 tremendously challenging, with numerous problems of getting to tasting sites because of Covid 19. Thanks, however, to the excellent collaboration of the various consortia and wine producers, the tasting season proceeded fairly normally, though understandably with some tension. The tasting results were made public a few days ago, and the Chianti Rufina area performances were superb.
Attention was focused primarily on Chianti Rufina 2018 and on Chianti Rufina Riserva 2017, with some glances at 2016 and 2015, and of course at new white and rosé entries in 2019. The complete report on the growing seasons of those vintages can be found on www.chiantirufina.com . Meriting mention was the media attention given to the lighting of the night-time fires in the 2017 and 2019 winters, which contributed to containing the damage to a relatively low number of vines. That event amazed those who lack an in-depth acquaintance with French viticulture, particularly in Chablis. Rufina, however, did get an extra point of credit, compared to Chablis, where the vignerons use gas as their fuel: here we use the pruned canes, which is much more sustainable, ecologically speaking.
Finally, let’s see what the results were in the various Guides.
Gambero Rosso’s Guida Vini d’Italia remains the most widespread and sold in the world, with its editions in several languages; they bestowed their famous Tre Bicchieri on Frescobaldi’s ultra-elegant Chianti Rufina Riserva Nipozzano 2017. There were also an impressive number of 2 Bicchieri Rossi awarded. Castello del Trebbio brought home one for its Chianti Rufina Riserva Lastricato 2016, a gorgeous vintage to remember. Frescobaldi took one of those, too, with Chianti Rufina Riserva Nipozzano Vecchie Viti 2017 and with Pomino Bianco Benefizio Riserva 2018, and the same for I Veroni for its Chianti Rufina Riserva Quona 2017, Colognole with Chianti Rufina 2017, Frascole with Chianti Rufina Riserva 2017, and Tenuta Bossi dei Marchesi Gondi for its Vin Santo del Chianti Rufina Riserva Cardinal de Retz 2007.
Good results went to all of the other producers in the area, with Due Bicchieri going to numerous wines reviewed. Gambero Rosso also publishes the BereBene guide, presenting 1,530 excellent wines for under 30 euros. Rufina tributes were Frescobaldi’s Pomino Bianco 2019, I Veroni with Alba di Paola 2019, Colognole with Chianti Rufina 2017, Selvapiana with Chianti Rufina 2018, Frascole with Chianti Rufina 2018, and Lavacchio for its Chianti Rufina Cedro 2018.
Daniele Cernilli, an iconic figure on the Italian critical stage, publishes his Guida Essenziale dei Vini d’Italia, which awarded Castello del Trebbio Chianti Rufina Riserva Lastricato 2016 with 95 points and the “little face”, the symbol that means that Cernilli himself blesses the appropriateness of the results. I Veroni’s Chianti Rufina Riserva Quona 2017 took home 94 points, while 93 went to the new Chianti Rufina Riserva Villa Bossi Vigna Poggio Diamante 2016 dei Marchesi Gondi and to a scintillating Pomino Brut Leonia 2016 by Frescobaldi. Chianti Rufina Riserva 2017 of Frascole took 92 points, and Pomino Rosso Villa Petrognano 2017 di Selvapiana 91. Marchesi Gondi saw Gambero Rosso’s evaluation of his Vin Santo Cardinal de Retz 2007 confirmed, with 92 points assigned by Cernilli.
The Slow Wine guide, edited by Slow Food in collaboration with the FISAR sommeliers, doesn’t assign scores, save in the case of just a few awarded wines; it does, however, review the most outstanding producers, according to its “slow” criteria, reflecting the movement’s philosophy. So, the very fact of a review is a significant recognition. It awards its Top Wine, which can be for a Vino Slow—an excellent wine that in addition embodies characteristics related to terroir, history, and environment–, or a Vino Quotidiano—an excellent wine costing less than 12 euros retail. This company includes Selvapiana’s award of Top Wine Vino Slow for its Chianti Rufina Vigneto Erchi 2017, while the Top Wine Vino Quotidiano goes to Frascole for its Chianti Rufina 2018. Frascole also pulled down the Bottiglia award, the symbol awarded to wineries that exhibited overall high quality in all the wines presented. Top Wine Vino Quotidiano went to Chianti Rufina 2018 of Fattoria Il Lago. The producers that received great reviews, in addition to the above, were Colognole, Fattoria Lavacchio, I Veroni, Villa Travignoli, Grignano, Marchesi Gondi Tenuta Bossi, and Podere Il Balzo.
Ernesto Gentili, after various years at the helm of Guida Vini de L’Espresso created his own website, ErGentili Wine Ratings, featuring tasting notes totally his own. The core of the site is the Rating of wines. Here are the Rufina reviews. It bears noting that his scores may appear lower when compared with other critics, particularly those in the USA, but that is because he utilises a broader range, starting from 80, to give a more detailed picture of a wine. Fattoria Il Lago saw its Syrah IGT 2017 winning 90 points, while Pinot Nero 2017 received 88; both were defined with fine bouquet, supple, crisp, and vibrant. 88 points, too, for Vin Santo del Chianti Rufina 2002, 87 for Chianti Classico Riserva 2016, while Chianti Rufina 2018 was awarded 84 points. Fattoria Lavacchio’s wines were characterised as stand-outs for fruit and approachability. Chianti Riserva Puro 2016 took 89, as did Toscana Vendemmia Tardiva Oro del Cedro 2009. Chianti Rufina Riserva Cedro received 88, as well as Chianti Puro 2018. Finally, we find Chianti Rufina Ludié 2015 with 87 and Chianti Rufina Cedro 2018 with 86. Frascole’s wines are described as both approachable and displaying character, delicious wines that will nevertheless stand up to time. Chianti Rufina Riserva 2017 received a flattering 91, Chianti Rufina 2018 an 88, and Toscana Rosso Limine 2016 an 86.
The historic Guida Oro Veronelli award a constellation of stars. Frescobaldi was awarded the 3 Stelle ORO for Pomino Brut Rosè Leonia 2015, a recent entry into the world of Italian sparklers. Mormoreto and Chianti Rufina Riserva Nipozzano Vecchie Viti, both 2017s, were judged at 91 points, in addition to Pomino Benefizio Riserva 2018 and Pomino Brut Leonia 2016, with 92. I Veroni wins three stars and 92 points for Vin Santo del Chianti Rufina Occhio di Pernice 2010. Three stars rained down on Tenuta Bossi Marchesi Gondi: al Mazzaferrata 2015 go 93 points, 92 to Chianti Rufina Riserva Vigna Poggio Diamante 2016 and to Ser Amerigo 2015, and another 92 to Vin Santo del Chianti Rufina Riserva Cardinal de Retz 2007. Villa Travignoli, Fattoria Lavacchio, and Fattoria Il Capitano also made the pages of the guide.
The two sommelier associations, AIS and FIS publish two guides, Vitae and Bibenda, respectively. Vitae’s highest award, 4 VITI, goes to Chianti Rufina Vigneto Erchi 2017 of Selvapiana, while Vin Santo del Chianti Rufina Occhio di Pernice 2010 of I Veroni takes the 5 Grappoli of FIS Bibenda.
TCI’s Vini Buoni d’Italia reviews only native variety wines, and so many IGTs that use international varieties are excluded from the guide. The top rating is the Corona, for outstanding wines that excited the judges in the final tasting round for their varietal fidelity and terroir expression; in Rufina’s case, wines with Rufina’s strong identity and their ability to imprint themselves on the memory. This is the case with Chianti Rufina Riserva del Don 2016 of Colognole and Chianti Rufina 2018 of Selvapiana. The Golden Star, or wines in the running for the Corona, include Chianti Rufina Riserva Lastricato 2016 of Castello del Trebbio, Pomino Brut Leonia 2016 by Frescobaldi, and Vin Santo del Chianti Rufina 2011 of Selvapiana.
Finally, we arrive at the first results of tastings by the main international print magazines and online sites, not guides as such, but sources followed by international buyers who are looking for wines available in their markets. The Wine Spectator Top 100 wines ranking was poor in results for Tuscany of lesser known DOC, having awarded only a few Brunellos, Chianti Classico and Nobile di Montepulciano. Monica Larner, Italian reviewer for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, awarded I Veroni with a prestigious score, 97/100, for the Vin Santo del Chianti Rufina Occhio di Pernice 2009. “The bouquet reveals candied fruit, dried apricot, brown sugar, maple syrup, dried porcino mushroom, cooked apple and jasmine. Despite the textural richness of this wine, you’ll be delighted by how elegantly those aromas and flavors are delivered”. Excellent ratings also for the Chianti Rufina Riserva Vigneto Quona 2017 (91/100), for the new white Alba di Paola IGT Toscana 2019 (90/100), for the Chianti Rufina I Domi 2018 (89/100) and 2019 (88/100). Some statements of Monica about Chianti are very interesting. She remembers how “Two of these regions, Carmignano and Chianti Rúfina, recently celebrated important birthdays. The Granduca di Toscana Cosimo III drew the official lines for both wine regions on September 24, 1716, and I was there 300 years later to celebrate the important anniversary”. And furthermore, with regard to Vin Santo, she states that: “ Tuscany’s Vin Santo merits special UNESCO recognition or some other international prize along those lines”.
We do know the rankings of Vinum di Christian Eder, published in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland: these are the scores of Rufina wines for the prestigious rank of Top of Toskana 2021. Among the top 10, with 17.5/20 is Chianti Rufina Riserva Nipozzano Vecchie Viti 2016 of Frescobaldi, Chianti Rufina Riserva Villa Bossi 2016 of Marchesi Gondi, Chianti Rufina Riserva Cedro 2016 of Fattoria di Lavacchio, then, with poi 17/20 are Chianti Rufina Riserva Lastricato 2016 of Castello del Trebbio, and Chianti Rufina Riserva Vigneto Quona 2017 of I Veroni. In the Chiani universe, the Rufina subzone receives 5 top positions in 10, a very satisfactory result. Looking further over the results, we find 16.5 points for Chianti Rufina 2016 of Cantine Bellini, Chianti Rufina Riserva Poggio Gualtieri 2016 of Fattoria di Grignano, Chianti Rufina Riserva del Don 2015 of Colognole, and Chianti Rufina Riserva Pian dei Sorbi 2016 of Marchesi Gondi. Then there are 16 points for Chianti Rufina Riserva 2016 of Podere il Pozzo, Chianti Rufina Riserva Tegolaia 2017 of Travignoli, Chianti Rufina Riserva 2016 of Azienda Agricola Balbi Fattoria Il Capitano, Chianti Rufina Riserva 2015of Podere Il Balzo, and Chianti Rufina 2015 of Fattoria Il Lago. In the Chianti Riserva universe, the Rufina subzone placed 16 of 45 wines in the top ranks, which means that a full third of the top wines hail from the DOCG in the Apennines between the Arno and the Sieve.
The English journal Decanter Magazine, one of the authoritative in the world, organises the annual DWWA Decanter Wine World Award, which confers the Best in Show award in platinum, gold, silver, and bronze, and a simple Mention. For Rufina we find Frescobaldi Silver 91 points with Mormoreto 2016, Marchesi Gondi Silver / 90 with Mazzaferrata 2015, and Bronze / 87 for Chianti Rufina Riserva Villa Bossi 2016. Then, Il Castello del Trebbio with Silver / 90 for Chianti Rufina Riserva Lastricato 2015, Cantine Bellini Bronze / 89 for Chianti Rufina Riserva 2016 and Bronze / 87 for Chianti Rufina 2017, Bronze / 88 for IGT Comedìa 2016, Silver / 90 for Mamb-O Dominante 2017, and finally, Podere Il Pozzo Bronze / 87 for Chianti Rufina Riserva 2016.
As for the future, the just-concluded 2020 harvest leaves us in high hopes, since it is well-balanced overall, certainly in line with the best Rufina vintages. Soon to launch is the new project aimed at identifying each producer’s finest Sangiovese vineyard, with dedicated single-vineyard labels to serve as ambassadors of the highest expressions of Rufina. Similarly, we are expecting the first wines from the newest and very promising entries into the Consorzio. Borgo Macereto, the Foscarini family’s agritourism, presented its first wines this year, quite well balanced and on target, such as Chianti Rufina La Fuga 2018, Incipit IGT Toscana 2016, and the white Doppio Senso 2019. Ormae Vinae, headed by Russian businessmen Alexey Kondrashev and Ella Korop, issued its first bottles to the market this September, the rosé Gioiellae 2018, sangiovese-based, and a red IGT, Primae 2017, 50-50 Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon; awaited in 2021 is their all-Sangiovese standard-bearer.
For further information:
Consorzio Chianti Rufina
Villa di Poggio Reale
Viale Duca della Vittoria,7
Tel: (+39) 055 8399944
+39 328 4603832