Category Archives: Chianti Rufina

In Praise of Chianti

No other region or wine in Italy have the magic of Tuscany and Chianti. Michele and I visited Tuscany in October for a little over two weeks and as always were captivated by the scenery, the food and the wine.

IMG_6643As a longtime Chianti lover, I was more than happy to attend the recent Chianti lovers U.S. Tour 2022. It included a seminar on Chianti followed by a walk around tasting with 24 Chianti producers presenting their wines.

vino2101-2-009BusiGiovanni Busi, president of the Consorzio Vino Chianti and owner of Villa Travignoli made I few introductory remarks about Chianti and the importance of the American market for Chianti. He also said on more than one occasion: “Chianti is one of the best know wines and one of the least known wines.” Everyone knows the name but just what is Chianti?


Robin Kelly O’Connor one of the presenters

Mr. Busi introduced the three presenters.  They were: Luca A. Alves, Chianti Wine Ambassador; Robin Kelly O’Connor, RKO Vine; and Adam Teeter, Vine Pair Founder.

Mr. Alves spoke about the history of Chianti, the Chianti Consorzio and the seven Chianti sub-zones. In answer to a question he explained the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico. He said that they were promoted together until 1996 when they separated. Chianti Classico is the center area  between Florence and Siena surrounded by the Chianti  sub zones. There are differences in the percentage of Sangiovese required, aging and grapes allowed.


The Consorzio Vino Chianti was established in 1927 by a group of wine producers in the provinces of Pistoia, Siena, Arezzo and Florence. Later the Consorzio expanded to cover the whole production area covered by the DOCG. Now the Chianti production area is located in the provinces of Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena. Chianti wines are designated as: Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane, MontalbanoRufina, and the last, added in 1997, Montespertoli.  In addition is the return of the Chianti “Superiore” which can come from anywhere in the Chianti wine area with the exception of the Chianti Classico zone between Florence and Siena. Superiore cannot have a name of an area on the label. There is also the Colli dell’Etruria Centrale. The DOC permits in the Chianti DOCG area the production of wines of a different quality from Chianti, which include reds, whites, roses, novello and Vin Santo.Chianti regions

The seven Chianti sub zones

Chianti can be made from 100% Sangiovese and it also have must be at least 70% Sangiovese but the law has limited the amount of international grapes such as Cabernet to 10%. Traditional Tuscan grapes like Canaiolo can also be used up to 30%, as well as Trebbiano and Malvasia, which are white grapes, up to 10%. Chianti may be released on March 1st of the year following the harvest. The sub-regions of Montalbano, Aretini, Pisane and Senesi may also be released on March 1st after the harvest. The sub-region of Montespertoli may be released on June 1st. The sub-regions of Fiorentini and Rufina may be released on September 1st of the year following the harvest. Chianti Superiore may be released on September 1st of the year following the harvest.

For the Riserva the wine must be aged a minimum of two years from January 1st following the harvest. For Chianti Fiorentini and Rufina, the Riserva has to spend at least 6 months in wood. For the Chianti Senesi Riserva the wine must spend at least 8 months in wood and 4 months in bottle.

IMG_6641The Wines

The tasting was blind and we were not given the names of the producers. All other information about the wine was given to us.

All the wines were Reserve from the 2017 Vintage


Chianti Colli Pisane Pietro Beconcini made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cannaiolo and the vines are 65 years old. The soil is a base of sandstone  with considerable intrusion of marine fossil formations by the Pliocene period, well integrated with abundant white clay high in PH. Elevation is 100/150 meters. The training system is spurred cordon and the harvest takes place the first 10 days of October. Maturation is in Slavonian oak for 18 months and then the wine ages for eight months in bottle. The wine has hints of violet, leather and cherry. This is old style Chianti Reserve at its best and a great wine to go with food.

IMG_6617Chianti Montalbano “IL Fondatore”  Castagallo made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is clayey, marly matrix. This single vineyard is at 400 meters and the vines are 30 years old. The training system is spurred cordon and the exposure is south. There are 5,200 plants per hectare. They practice organic farming. Fermentation takes place in steel vats and the wine is aged for 12 months in 10HL French oak casks and in bottle for 6 months before release.

IMG_6618Chianti Colli Senesi  Poggio Del Moro made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Syrah from 10 to 20 year old vines. The exposure is southeast/west. The soil is 79% sand, 15% clay and 6% light loam. The vineyards are at 335-365 meters and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Holistic agricultural practices are used with manure and green manure techniques. The grapes are hand picked and there is another selection on the sorting table.  Maceration is for 12 days at a controlled temperature with frequent pumping over of the must. There is gentle pressing of the grapes. The wine ages is 5HL oak barrels for 12 months and another 12 months in bottle and is bottled during the waning moons of June and July.

IMG_6622Chianti Montespertoli “Ingannamatti” Podere Dell’Anselmo made from 100% Sangiovese from the Ingannamati vineyard planted in 1993 and from other older vineyards. The soil is clay and limestone and the training system is spur cordon. There are 3,500 to 4,500 vines per hectare.  Traditional maceration for 10 days at a controlled temperature. The wine remains for 16 months is stainless steel vats and then two months in glass. The wine has hints of plum and cherry with floral notes 

IMG_6619Chianti Colli Fiorentini “Torre a Cona” Badia Corte made from 100% Sangiovese from a single vineyard. The grapes are hand harvested from the Badia a Corte vineyard that has typical Alberese limestone soil. The grapes are fermented in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature with a selection of native yeasts with 15 days maceration on the skins. The wine is aged  in 25 HL Slavonian oak casks for 24 months and for 6 months in bottle before release.

IMG_6620Chianti Colli Aretini “Bucca Nera” Tenuta Di Cambriano   Made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet and Merlot. The soil is clay and gravel. The vineyards are at 500 meters with a south/west exposure and the training system is spurred cordon. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and the average age of the vines is 35 years. Fermentation is in stainless steel and the wine is aged in botti grandi for 24 months and 6 months in bottle before release.

IMG_6624Chianti Rufina Vigneto Bucerchiale  Fattoria Selvapiana made from 100% Sangiovese.  This single vineyard is at 250 meters and the vines are 43 years old. The exposure is south and the training system is spurred cordon. There are about 3,500 vines per hectare. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats. The wine ages in French barriques (only (10% new) for 15 months and in bottle for 9 months before release. This is a wine that can age and I have enjoyed older vintages of Selvapiana over the years.

All the wines were showing very well. I was happy to see the use of international grapes was limited and I enjoyed all the wines.

The presenters did an excellent job putting the wines in the correct order, of discussing each wine and describing the flavors and aromas, and if they could age. It was the most informative and professional tasting I have attended in a long time.

At the end we were given some tasty snacks to sample with the wines


 including truffle flavored potato chips,

IMG_6638and pop corn.  It was an interesting combination.



Filed under Chianti, Chianti Colli Senesi, Chianti Rufina, Uncategorized

Six Wines

Listed below are 6 wines  I had with lunch or dinner and I have not had a chance to mention in other blogs.

Champagne Grand Siecle “Alexandra” Rose 1997 Laurent-Perrier. Made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. This Champagne is made in extremely limited quantities and only in the best vintage years. The 1997 was only the fourth bottling of this Champagne. It has all of the characteristics of a great Rose Champagne but it was also so subtle.

Chianti Rufina Riserva 2010 “Vigneto Bucerchiale Fattoria Selvapiana made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is 12.50 hectares, at 200 meters, the soil is of medium density clay, dry and stony, well drained. There are 5,200 vines per hectare and the exposure is south/southwest. Vines were planted in 1968 and 1992 and the training system is spur cordon. Hand harvested the first week of October. Fermentation is in stainless steel with all natural yeasts. Fermentation and maceration is for 25 days. The wine is aged in 225 hl French casks. This is a wine with hints of cherry, violets and plums with a touch of tobacco.

Chambolle Musigny 1978 Domaine Robert Groffier made from 100% Pinot Noir. Burgundy at its best.

Aglianico del Taburno Riserva Vigna Cataratte 2009 DOCG Fontanavecchia The grapes are selected and hand harvested. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for about 20 days. The wine is aged for 14 months in barriques and aged for 34 more months before release. This is a bold wine with hints of cherry, spice, chocolate and a touch of licorice.

The Emidio Pepe winery is Organic and Bio Dynamic . The training system is cordon spur and tendone. Only natural yeasts are used. The grapes are crushed by  hand. No sulfites are added to the wine. The juice is placed in glass lined cement tanks of 20/25 hl for two years. Since this is natural wine, malolactic fermentation may take place in the tank or in the bottle. The bottles are corked by hand.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1983 Emidio Pepe This bottle was showing its age but was still very drinkable.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1985 Emidio Pepe this bottle was showing very well with deep red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of cherry, spice and leather- it is a great wine. I have had the 1983 before and it too is a great wine. As someone once said “ the are no great wines, only great bottles of wine”




Filed under Aglianico, Burgundy, Champagne, Chianti Classico, Chianti Rufina, Emidio Pepe, Laurent- Perrier- Grand Siècle, Selvapiana

Two Good Restaurant Wines and a 1970 Pinot Noir at Home

When I look at a restaurant wine list, I try to find wines that are a good value, have some age, and that will go with my meal.  Sometimes it seems like Mission Impossible.  But once in a while, I get lucky, as I did at Gigot, a small bistro in the West Village.

We started with

Beaumes-De-Venise 2004 Chateau Redotier.  The winery is owned by the Menthon family. The wine is 60% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 5% Counoise. The grapes are hand harvested. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and maceration lasts between 8 and 10 days. The wine is not filtered and is aged for two years in stainless steel tanks before it is bottled. This a wine with soft red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of raspberries, strawberries and nice fruity finish and aftertaste. It was perfect with the homemade country paté with toasted baguettes. Price at the restaurant $45

Coteaux Varois AOC 2004 “Clos des la Truffiere” Domaine Du Deffends.  This is also a family owned winery.  The wine is made from Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon and the percentage depends on the vintage. Truffles are found in the vineyard and this is the reason for its name. It is their flagship wine. The soil is clay and limestone, the vineyard has a southeastern exposure and the vines are 25 years old. Maceration is between 12 to 18 days depending on the vintage. They punch down 2 to 3 times a day and a pneumatic press is used. It is aged 12 months in 25hl barrels and 1/2hogsheads vats (a hogshead is 63 U.S gallons) How long the wine is aged and what it is aged in depends upon the vintage. The wine is not fined or filtered. This is a rustic red wine with subtle fruit aromas and flavors with hints of blackcurrants and cassis, a mineral character and a long finish and nice aftertaste. This was a perfect combination with the cassoulet.  It is $45 on the wine list.

When friends come to my house for dinner and bring wine, I like to open their wine so that we can enjoy it together. The only times I do not do this is when I know the wine is from the dark side, or if it is too young. Recently a friend brought a California wine that was 42 years old. It was a Pinot Noir   from Inglenook, one of the oldest wineries in California, established by Gustave Niebaum in 1879. It reached its height after Prohibition under John Daniel Jr. a relative of Mr. Niebaum.  In fact from Prohibition to the 1960’s this winery may have produced the best wines in California. It has had a checkered history since then. However, over the last few years Francis Ford Coppola has been able to buy the old Inglenook vineyards and the winery.   He has changed the name of his winery from Niebaum-Coppola to Inglenook.

I was only too happy to open this wine.  Another guest brought a magnum of sparkling wine and I provided two Italian wines.

Pinot Noir 1970 limited Cask K-150, Estate bottled, Inglenook, Napa Valley. The wine was aged in small oak casks.  It is called Cask K-150 because occasionally in the cellar the wine maker discovers a cask of Pinot Noir that he feels is so special that he sets it aside for further aging. Later if it comes up to Inglenook’s highest expectations, it is marked “Cask”. This bottle was drawn from one of these special casks. The wine was only 12% alcohol.

This is still a big concentrated wine.  The oak and vanilla flavors are all still there.  The wine was showing some age but no way did it taste like a wine that was 42 years old. It did not taste like Pinot Noir at all.  It is always interesting to taste old California wines because they do not all taste the same but all of them up until the late 1970’s were 12% to 12.5 % alcohol.

At a Wine Media Guild event in the fall I tasted a Charles Krug 1966 and a 1974 Simi Cabernet Sauvignon. They were both  “lighter” in style, tasting like the grape with only a hint of oak. Even in California wines that are 40 years old or more, if they are too oaky to begin with, the oakiness does not go away.  

Cococciola Vino Spumante Brut NV 100% Cococciola,  Cantina Frentana. (Abruzzo)    This is an ancient indigenous grape variety of the province of Chieti. It is mainly grown in the area around Rocco San Giovanni. The big grape bunches are irregular in shape and some are wing-tipped. It is a grape with good acidity and good yields. In the past it was only used for blending with other grapes. The harvest takes place towards the end of September. The grapes are soft pressed and fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures. Malolatic fermentation does not take place. Only the free run juice is used. This is an interesting sparkling wine made by the charmat method with citrus flavors and aromas and a hint of almonds.  

Vino Rosso Toscano de Tavola 1988 100% Sangiovese. Grato Grati I am glad that I have only one bottle of the 1988 left because it is starting to show its age. Time to begin drinking the 1990.

Ghemme “Collis Breclema DOCG 1996 100% Nebbiolo Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo (Piedmont) A selection of the more mature grapes are made from the Breclema vineyard. The soil is rich in minerals and has good sun exposure and is 280 to 310 meters above sea level. Harvest takes place in late October. The grapes are destemmed and pressed and kept in oak casks for about two years.  It is typical Nebbiolo with hints of red berries, liquorice, violets and a touch of tar. The wine is at its peak right now.



Filed under Chianti Rufina, French Red, French Wine, Ghemme, Italian Red Wine, Italian Sparkling Wine, Sparkling wine, Spumante

Holiday Adventures in NYC

Michele and I always look forward to Christmas dinner with Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow. For a number of years, Tom and Diane come to our house Thanksgiving dinner, and they have us over for Christmas. They are excellent and adventurous cooks and Diane often chooses recipes from books she has written about in her blog

Tom has a great wine collection and will try to find the perfect wine match for each course.

The first wine was Champagne Pommery Brut NV. Made from 35% Chardonnay 35% Pinot Nor and 30% Pinot Meunier. It was very easy to drink and worked very well with the little pastry shells filled with foie gras, egg salad, prosciutto, caviar etc.

The first course was an individual ramekin filled with an egg baked in cream with white truffle paste, which they had brought back from Alba. The wine to match this dish was a Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2003 Labouré–Roi. As Tom poured the wine into the glass it had a golden orange color and even without tasting it we could see that it was oxidized.

Then we had an Alsatian onion quiche. The main course was  Pintadeau farci Jean Cocteau– stuffed guinea hen from a recipe in Raymond Oliver’s La Cuisine. With it drank Beaune Premier Cru Greves 2005 Moillard and a Chambolle Musigne 2003 from Drouhin followed. They were both showing very well but the Moillard was a bit softer.

Next there was a cheese course.  All the cheeses were great but the gorgonzola was really special, we drank a Chateau Brane Cantenac1989, Cabernet Sauvignon Carmeriére. Dessert was a not too sweet cranberry crostata made by Michele.  For those that were still able to drink there was grappa.

Monday and Tuesday we stayed home and tried not to eat too much.

Wednesday we went to Russ & Daughters to buy caviar and foie gras for New Years Eve. We also went to an Indian restaurant but did not have wine.

Thursday we went to SD26, which is becoming one of my favorite Italian restaurants for lunch and had another great meal.  Tony May recommended we have the burrata, which was brought in from Puglia.  It was superb.  Then I had chestnut fettuccine with wild boar salami & dried cranberries, a perfect dish for a winter day.  We drank the 1988 Chianti Rufina from Grato Grati

On Friday we met a friend from Miami and went to Legend, a Chinese restaurant that has very good food and excellent Martinis.  Love the spicy lamb with cumin.

New Years Eve we went to Japonica for Japanese food for lunch.

That night to celebrate the coming New Year we started with the Caviar and had a bottle of Champagne Bruno Paillard N.P.U. Brut 1995.  Made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir I had mentioned to someone that I had had it at a tasting and liked it and I received it as a gift from him. With the foie gras we drank a dessert wine from Spain- Malaga 2007 N0 2 Victoria It is a naturally sweet wine made from the Muscate Alexandria grape and fermented in stainless steel Joege Ordoéz & CO.   This also was a gift from a friend.

On New Years Day we took a long walk and in the middle of Washington Square Park there was a man playing classical piano. It was a beautiful day and we stood and listened for a while.   His name is Colin Huggins and he was very good.

For dinner that night we had the rest of the foie gras, steak and potatoes fried in duck fat. The wine we drank was a 1984 Volnay 1er Cru “les Champans” Domaine Joseph Voillot.

This wine was everything that a red Burgundy should be and it was a great way to start off the New Year!

I would like to thank everyone that has followed my blog and Happy New Year to one and all.

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Filed under Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Chianti Rufina, French Red, French Wine, Grato Grati, Italian Red Wine, Italian Restaurants, Italian Wine, SD 26, Villa di Vetrice