Many years ago Michele and I stayed in Tuscany at a resort in Castellina in Chianti, and visited Tenuta di Lilliano. A few months ago, Tony di Dio of Tony Di Dio Selections, asked me if I was familiar with the winery and the wines of Lilliano. I told him yes and I liked the wines. Tony invited me to a lunch featuring the wines of Tenuta di Lillian.
The property was acquired in 1920 by Baron Beringieri. In 1958 the first Lilliano wines were bottled for sale at the hands of Princess Eleonora Ruspoli Berlingieri. She was the first to appreciate the potential of Lilliano as a winemaking estate. She was helped by Giulio Gambelli who has been called the “Sangiovese guru.”
Today the property is owned by brothers Giulio and Pietro Ruspoli and has been managed by Giulio since 1989. Their nephew Alessandro represents Liliano internationally. The enologist now is the famous Lorenzo Landi.
The interesting and knowledgeably Alessandro Ruspoli represented the winery at the tasting and lunch which was held at Marea Restaurant in NYC. Alessandro said the Chianti Classico labels bear the Ruspoli and Berlingieri family coat of arms. The current owners of Lilliano reside in the historic Ruspoli Palace in the center of Rome.
There are 40 cultivated hectares dominated by Sangiovese alongside a small amount of other native and international varieties. He said they have 3 vineyards that produce the highest quality grapes: Le Piagge–Sangiovese, Casina Sopra Strada–Sangiovese and Colorino, and Vigna Catena—Merlot.
The aging cellar beneath the main villa is where the Chianti Classico Riserva ages in large oak barrels along with the Gran Selezione, a recent classification from 2010, which at Lilliano is aged in tonneaux, is a wine made exclusively from a winery’s own grapes grown in its finest vineyards according to strict regulations. It is on the top of the Chianti Classico pyramid.
In a second cellar used for storage and wine making, there are glazed concrete tanks and stainless steel containers. I asked Alessandro if they were returning to concrete as many producers are now doing and he said “no, we always had them.”
Chianti Classico 2016 DOCG made from 90% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino and 5% Merlot. After the quality-selected clusters are destemmed and pressed, the must is fermented and macerated in stainless steel for 18-20 days at a controlled temperature with programmed punch downs and daily pumpovers. Maceration fermentation takes place in concrete and small stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature for 18-20 days depending on the vintage. The wine ages for about 12 to 14 months in large casks of French oak and partly in concrete. After maturation, the final blend is assembled, bottled and aged in glass for a minimum of 3 months. This is a wine with hints of red fruit, cherry, violets and a touch of cassis.
Chianti Classico Riserva 2015 made from 95% Sangiovese and 5% Merlot from the first selection. After a careful selection the grapes undergo soft pressing and destalking. During fermentation the must is pumped over with plunging of the cap on a daily basis. Maceration lasts for 21 to 25 days depending on the vintage. Malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine ages in large casks of French oak 28 to 34HL. The final blend is assembled and the wine ages in glass a minimum of 6 months. The wine has hints of cherry, cassis, violets, and a touch of spice.
Chianti Classico Grand Selezione DOCG 2015 made from 90% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino and 5% Merlot from grapes grown and selected from the Le Piagge and La Casina vineyards where the soil is calcareous clay. After a careful selection the grapes undergo a soft crushing and destemming. During fermentation the must is pumped over with plunging of the cap on a daily basis. Maceration is for 25 days depending on the vintage. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. The wine matures for 15 months in French oak barrels of 28 and 34HL and in tonneaux (500 liters). The wine is blended, bottled and ages for a minimum of 6 months. This is a full bodied wine with hints of red fruit, floral notes, cherry, plum and a touch of violets.
All of the wines from Tenuta di Lilliana that we tasted are good food wines and I really enjoyed them.