On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG Vigneto Bucerchiale, Fattoria Selvapiana is the protagonist of a dedicated article on Falstaff.com. Below the complete article, while at this link you can read it on Falstaff.com. First created in 1979, the 2019 vintage of Bucerchiale marks the 40th anniversary of this single-vineyard wine that has come to define the area of Chianti Rufina. Its evolution also traces the momentous changes in the Italian wine industry over that time. The Bucerchiale vineyard Bucerchiale is a south-west-facing vineyard in the cooler Chianti zone of Rufina, to the north of Florence. The area has always been cooler than the Chianti Classico zone that extends south of Florence to Siena, but that gives Rufina wines their characteristic freshness and elegance. Bucerchiale, says winemaker and co-owner Federico Giuntini Masseti, “has always been the best podere,” or smallholding, on the farm. Even in the past, when it was still dedicated to mixed farming. Defiance Giuntini said: “In 1979 it was unique to produce 100% Sangiovese and from a single vineyard. It was the beginning of the renaissance of Tuscan wine.” At the time, the law still mandated that in order to call a wine Chianti, it had to contain Trebbiano – a sign of the times that valued quantity over quality. But Selvapiana wanted quality and made and bottled the Sangiovese grown in the Bucerchiale vineyard separately – defiantly labelling it Chianti Rufina Riserva. Giuntini remembers that while the law mandated Trebbiano – and Trebbiano was indeed planted in the vineyard because law enforcement checked vineyards rather than cellars – they made this 100% Sangiovese wine. Historic context David Gleave MW, founder of Liberty Wines in the UK and importer of Selvapiana since 1986, said: “At that time there was no market for these wines, you could not sell an expensive Chianti – but they made it and kept it in their cellar. Most of the old vintages were just bottled and sat in the cellar to wait for a better future. And the better future arrived when we started to sell outside Italy.” Gleave filled in more history: “I think a lot of estates, when we go back historically in the post-war years, there were not selling wine in bottle, they’d sell wine to big negociants – Ruffino, Antinori, Melini. But estates like Selvapiana had a tradition of bottling, they started bottling after the First World War; Antinori had started bottling wines just after the turn of the century – and they were family.” In the interwar years Selvapiana’s wines were sold in restaurants in Milan and Rome – but the Germans “drank the cellars empty.” The turnaround The post-war years were meagre and hard. Yet there was a drive for quality. This history of bottling their own wine was one strand of Selvapiana’s philosophy. Another, according to Gleave, was Italian wine writer and journalist Luigi Veronelli who strongly advocated for quality and railed against the DOC laws of the day. “Veronelli was hugely influential,” Gleave said. The tide in Tuscany was turning, too, even though it took the law until 1995 to catch up. All around in the late 1970s and 1980s, 100% Sangiovese wines were made, mostly outside appellation laws – Montevertine’s Pergole Torte was the face that launched a thousand wines. Selvapiana’s Bucerchiale, first illegally then legally was always labelled Chianti Rufina Riserva. The wines and the tasting “Before tasting the last three wines,” Gleave said, “try and think what Tuscany was in those days. We moved from high crop, bad wine to making single vineyard wines.” Throughout those 40 vintages, from 1979 to 2019, things kept changing. At Selvapiana, consultant Franco Bernabei came in in 1978. In the 1980s the wines were still aged in chestnut barrels. Then the wine changed with the prevailing fashion, being made in smaller oak barrels and being extracted more in the 1990s and early 2000s. 2018 was the first vintage when the wine was made in 50% French oak and 50% large cask. The 2019 is a strikingly beautiful anniversary wine. There is less extraction now, more subtlety and much nuance. Yet the essential cherry nature and wonderful sense of place of Sangiovese shines in every vintage. Happy 40th, birthday and buon compleanno Bucerchiale – here is to the next 40!
Our Fattoria Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 2019 is in the Top Ten of wines produced with Sangiovese on gismondionwine.com, with a nice review and score 91/100.
John Fodera wrote a beautiful article on Fattoria Selvapiana for the Tuscan Vines website: FEATURE: SELVAPIANA by John Fodera At the foot of the Apennines, in the northeast corner of Tuscany, lies the Selvapiana estate. Here, ancient tradition and history blend in a confluence of wine and ancestry. In medieval times, Selvapiana stood as a watch tower to protect Firenze’s north east border. Eventually, during the Renaissance, the building was enlarged dramatically into a villa that was used by noble Florentine families as a Summer retreat. In 1827, Francesco Giuntini acquired the property and became the first generation of the Giuntini’s to own the estate. Today, winemaker Federico Giuntini and his sister Silvia represent the 5th generation of the family to own Selvapiana. Selvapiana is the preeminent producer within the Chianti Rufina zone. But what is Chianti Rufina? Chianti Rufina Basics Selvapiana calls Chianti Rufina home. But what exactly is Chianti Rufina and how does it differ from Chianti Classico? Chianti Rufina is one of seven sub-zones of the Chianti DOCG – that does not include Chianti Classico; which holds it’s own DOCG. Rufina, pronounced “ROOFina”, was established by Cosimo de’ Medici in 1716. It is the smallest sub-zone of Chianti and when compared to other DOCG, only Carmignano is smaller. Under the rules for Chianti, wines from Rufina must be at least 70% Sangiovese, while from Chianti Classico they must be a minimum of 80% Sangiovese. Foresight & Innovation Although it’s small, Selvapiana has contributed significant innovation to Chianti. In 1978, Giuntini realized the great potential of Rufina and Selvapiana. As a result, he hired Franco Bernabei to be consulting winemaker. Together they created Bucerchiale, a single vineyard Sangiovese Riserva which was an unheard of notion at the time. The wine was an instant success and Bernabei consults to this day. This cycle of improvement and innovation continues. In 2005, the new wine cellar was finished and supplements the existing, historic cellar. Additionally, since 1987, the estate has received organic certification for its vineyards. Selvapiana covers a total of 250 hectares. Approximately 60 are devoted to vineyards which bear the names of the sharecropping farms that once worked the land. The remainder are olive groves and forest. For this feature, I tasted through all the current releases from the Selvapiana Estate. My reviews speak for themselves but to steal my own thunder, I was greatly impressed. I Vini di Selvapiana – All wines Certified Organic Sometimes good comes from bad. A few months back I had received a sample of the 2019 Selvapiana Chianti Rufina. The wine was flat. Dried out, devoid of fruit and hollow. I sat with it for a while to be certain it wasn’t corked. Convinced, I decided to present the wine in a “Twitter Only” review. I was disappointed because in a vintage like 2019, I expected a nice wine. Well, the tweet was spotted by Silvia Giuntini, who requested that her importer reach out to me. This article is the result and benefit of that single tweet. 2019 Selvapiana Chianti Rufina – This is a second tasting of this wine. It clearly portrays the first bottle as somehow flawed, though this is still a straightforward red. In the glass, the light ruby color is nearly transparent. Aromas of cherry, sandalwood and spices are softly presented. Light to medium bodied on the palate with monolithic red berry flavors. Dusty herb and spice notes frame the fruit. This bottle is clearly sound. However, it’s as basic as basic can be. That’s ok, just measure your expectations. 86 points. The 2017 Selvapiana Vigneto Erchi is 100% Sangiovese coming from a 6 hectare vineyard that is about 21 years old. The Erchi farm was purchased in 1998 and planted with vines in 1999. The 2017 is only the second release of this Cru. Deep medium ruby. Deep aromas of black cherry, pipe tobacco, fresh red flowers and crushed clay. Medium to full bodied with ripe, juicy flavors of wild cherry that turn sapid in the mouth. Cigar leaf tobacco, leather and earth notes are gorgeous. Lengthy finish is tinged with cured meat and fennel. Impressive wine. Value is there. 93 points. The 2018 Selvapiana Pomino Villa Petrognano is a deep bright ruby. Brilliant aromas of wild raspberry, red cherry, flowers and sage are spot on. Juicy, fresh cherries on the palate with tobacco, hints of smoke and medium weight tannins that offer grip but moderate with food. This is very nice for the vintage. It could be the elevation and the terroir near the Apennines keep this wine fresher than many other 2018s I’ve tasted. 60% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet and 20% Merlot. Great value around $21. 90 points. The 2017 Selvapiana Vigneto Bucherchiale is a lovely medium ruby clear to the rim. Textbook Bucherchiale nose. Animale! Salume, wild boar sausage, porcini and crushed cherry are complex and wild. Juicy, sapid wild cherry, fresh fennel, and toasted nuts are medium bodied and persistent on the palate. Fresh, but boy do the tannins clamp down on the finish which is just slightly “hot”. Needs plenty of cellar time like most Bucerchiale do. I’m still holding the 2009 in my cellar. Give this 7+ years at a minimum and then be wowed. 95 points and a steal just under $30. Bucerchiale is sourced from vineyards that were planted in 1968 and 1992. It is 100% Sangiovese and spends 36 months in French barrique before release. The 2016 Selvapiana Fornace hails from vineyards planted in 1994 and 2003. It’s a deep crimson to ruby in color. Crushed cherry and leather dominate on the nose with powdered spices and leaf tobacco emerging too. Really intriguing. Viscous on the palate with ripe cherry, dusty minerals, espresso grind and fennel. Medium to full body. This is very elegant but could still use 1-2 years in the bottle to soften the tannins a bit. Yet, this is deliciously approachable right now. Spends 29 months in barrique before release. 92 points. Overall, there’s no question these wines are exciting and well made. Furthermore, in many cases they represent incredible value given the quality and complexity. Bucerchiale remains a favorite and to me, is an essential in a Tuscan cellar. But we’re not done! Co-Owner and winemaker Federico Giuntini has graciously agreed to sit down with us for a chat. La Intervista con Federico Giuntini TV: Ciao Federico, come stai? FG: Grazie mille Giovanni and thank you for the wonderful article. TV: Piacere mio, iniziamo. These days, many consumers are eager to seek out excellent wines but also wines that are organic. What year did the estate become organic and why did you decide to seek certification? FG: When I first started to work at the estate, during the Summer of 1987, after high school, I asked Francesco to work organic. I saw that it was important then. We had a couple of vineyards where we began the process and after that Selvapiana became fully organic. Regarding certification; we certified the vineyards and olive trees only. TV: Let’s talk about the individual roles at the winery. You’re the winemaker with Bernabei assisting. How are your roles defined? What role does Silvia have in the winery? FG: Selvapiana is still a very small family operation, so roles are not so clear and strict. Silvia is in charge of the office, I mostly work in the vineyards and direct sales. More recently during 2019, my eldest son Niccolo, is now in charge of the cellar and he worked very closely with Franco Bernabei. Franco has helped us since 1978. TV: Besides Chianti Classico, which many of my readers are familiar with, I think the two most recognizable Chianti zones are Rufina and Colli Senesi. Generally speaking, what makes Rufina different from Chianti Classico? FG: Rufina is unique due to its position at the foothill of the Appenines. Because of the altitude, Rufina generally has a longer ripening season, with cooler nights. This promotes balance with a slow ripening of the grapes. But never too ripe. Soils can vary too of course, but the main difference is the location. TV: Bucerchiale is your oldest vineyard with parcels dating back to 1968. It was my first introduction to Selvapiana when I tasted the 1985 vintage. I still remember it. For me, it’s one of the best vineyards in all of Tuscany. What do you think makes it so special? And to that point, I always find “animale” and “cured meat” in that wine. E specially on the nose. Is it the soil that imparts that character? FG: We are really lucky to own such a great spot. The first parcel was planted in 1968 as you say. Then a second parcel in 1992 and a younger one in 2001. The oldest part, mainly because of vine losses and low planting density was ripped up and re-planted just a few years ago. We let the soil rest for 43 years before we replanted. The soil is definitely in that wine. And you’re right – Vigneto Bucerchiale 1985 was probably the best we ever made. In addition to what you say, you can also find the “woodlands after rain” – a sort of earthiness with great minerality. TV: And Bucerchiale is 100% Sangiovese and the estates’s flagship wine. But now you’re producing Vigneto Erchi which is also 100% Sangiovese. What is the main difference between the two? In my tastings above, I suppose I’d generally say that Bucerchiale is a bit more rustic while Erchi seems more polished. What do you think of that? What are the differences in altitude between the two vineyards? FG: Vigneto Bucerchiale is the project of Francesco Giuntini, with a young Franco Bernabei. And even Luigi Veronelli was involved then who encouraged the planting! Vigneto Erchi is the project of my generation. We bought the land in 1998 and planted the vineyards in 1999; just 6 hectares. We waited until the vines reached a good age and selected a new cru. Vigneto Erchi is in the municipality of Pontassieve in a kind of conca d’oro (not so great as the one in Panzano!) It sits next to I Veroni, Poggio a Remole, Il Capitano e Cerreto Libri. Soils there have more calcareous limestone and much more iron than Bucherchiale which is mostly clay with limestone. Bucherchiale is higher at about 200 meters while Erchi sits between 150-200 meters. The two make for an interesting comparison. TV: Let’s chat about vintages for a moment. Which year do you think was the most difficult vintage you’ve ever worked and what made it so hard? Contrarily, which was the easiest and why? FG: Well, my first one was 1987 and was really, really complicated. Lots of grapes (High yields) even though we green harvested a lot that year. There was lots of rain during the harvest as well and lots of Botrytis. 1992 was also very complicated. Those are 2 years when no Bucerchiale was made. Then I think 2013 and 2019 were probably the 2 easiest. Conditions were perfect in our area. TV: Definitely 2019! I’ve had discussions with a lot of winemakers across Italy and they are all praising that vintage. 2019 comes with great fanfare so what do you think of it? FG: Ha! Giovanni, the best thing I can say is that I hope to see another quality vintage like this! TV: Regarding vintages, good and bad, I’m always discussing the changing climate with winemakers. Hotter and drier Summers are forcing them to make changes to the way they farm. Lying further to the north, and under the protection of the Apennines, what decisions have you needed to make in order to combat the warming climate? FG: Many things have been changed and there is much more to be changed. We can not move the vineyards and so we have to play where we are! We practice later pruning to delay bud break, so you avoid Spring frost and also you can delay ripening this way. We use cover crops and manure to increase organic substance and have better microlife to the soil and reduce water stress to the vines. We work the soils deeper and more aggressively during winter to prevent the soil from becoming compacted. Also, canopy management has changed. We don’t pull away the leafs any more; no hedging. We like to keep the grapes more in the shade. Last but not least, before the big heat waves we spray products that help to reduce the temperature of the leafs, like caolino (white-clay and algae). TV: Wow! That is a ton of intervention, it’s amazing. FG: Well, every vintage is different certainly, but we have to be prepared to react given what nature provides us. We work all naturally so taking care of the vines and soils the best we possibly can will reduce the chance that we will have problems later. TV: Well, thank you so much Federico. In wrapping up, tell us what’s new at Selvapiana? What’s exciting? What would you want my readers to know that I haven’t brought up? FG: New is the new generation! They are slowly taking over. I am not too old but again, we have to be prepared! Niccolò is already working 100% in charge of the cellars and now he’s doing a lot in the vineyards. Plus, my daughter Rebecca is starting to help at the wine shop. TV: Grazie tanto Federico – I truly appreciate your time and your passion. I know my readers do as well so thank you for enlightening us. FG: Grazie a te Giovannin. I hope we see each other soon.
The Slow Wine 2022 guide has awarded the following awards to Fattoria Selvapiana and to our Chianti Rufina 2019: CHIOCCIOLA (simbolo assegnato alle cantine per il modo in cui interpretano valori – organolettici, territoriali e ambientali – in sintonia con la filosofia di Slow Food. I vini di una Chiocciola rispondono anche al criterio del buon rapporto tra la qualità e il prezzo, tenuto conto di quando e dove sono stati prodotti) TOP WINE – VINO QUOTIDIANO: vino Chianti Rufina 2019 (Top Wine, vino che sotto il profilo organolettico ha raggiunto l’eccellenza durante le degustazioni, che costa fino a 12 € in enoteca)
Interesting chat with David Gleave for Liberty Wines UK: David Gleave chats with Federico Giuntini Masseti, who runs the Selvapiana estate in Rufina, one of the smallest but most distinguished subzones of Chianti. They discuss the challenging 2021 season, how the quality of Selvapiana wine has evolved over the years, and the desire for Rufina to stand on its own from the rest of Chianti, a movement that is being driven by the new generation of winemakers in the region. David also shares fond memories of some of his first trips to Selvapiana in the late 1980s. David and Federico taste the Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 2019. For Federico, 2019 was one of those “unique vintages where the growing season was close to perfect.” He compares it to the legendary vintage of 1985, where “everything at the right time.” The Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 2019 has a lovely colour, ripe red cherry character, fine tannins, and a bite of fresh acidity on the finish.
Following recent tastings, Baroness Sheri de Borchgrave has included Selvapiana Chianti Rufina in her latest article for Cottages & Gardens, a wine guide for Mother's Day. The Perfect Wine List for Mother’s Day Discover wine from all over the world. These sixteen wine discoveries will take you virtually traveling the world as you open bottles from remote islands, far-flung regions, and down under continents. Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Selvapiana Chianti Rufina — From the smallest subzone in the Chianti region, Chianti Rufina, this Tuscan gem, made mainly from Sangiovese, has lots of personality and finesse. It possesses generous cherry and raspberry flavors along with earthy notes. Known for its organic viticulture, Selvapiana winery has vineyards planted in limestone and clay soils at high elevation, bringing a fresh acidity to the grapes. Its importer, Dalla Terra Winery Direct, ships its wines directly from the wine estates, cutting a quarter off the price.
Karen MacNeil presented Selvapiana Bucerchiale Chianti Rufina Riserva 2016 as “Wine to Know” in her newsletter for subscribers to WineSpeed and on her website. Karen tasted and revisited her favorite Chianti wines this spring while writing the third edition of the Wine Bible Selvapiana “Vigneto Bucerchiale” Chianti Rufina Riserva 2016 (Tuscany, Italy) Selvapiana makes a terrific basic Chianti, but the estate’s flagship wine from its top vineyard (Bucerchiale) is a wine you definitely should not miss. A really good sangiovese has the inexplicable ability to seem both taut and muscular, lean and rich, at the same time. That’s certainly true here; this wine is 100% sangiovese. But what makes Selvapiania’s “Bucerchiale” extra fascinating is its hint of delicious saltiness and noble bitterness. The merest hint of salty and bitter flavors amplify the flavors around them, so when you have this wine with a great pasta, it’s heavenly. Plus there are also waves of rose, red fruit, and mineraly/chalky notes. Selvapiana has been making wine for almost 200 years in Chianti Rufina (Rufina is the smallest subzone in the Chianti area). 94 points KM Here the link to the website: https://winespeed.com/wine/selvapiana-4/
For our “reverse interviews” we tasted some Selvapiana wines and then had a long chat with Federico Giuntini about light bottles, changes in the vineyard and in the cellar, denominations, role of the producer, future of Rufina and of course about the wines tasted. Long chat with WineSurf.it about perhaps lesser known aspects of our profession!! Here is the complete interview: Winesurf.it intervista Federico Giuntini
Bruce Sanderson’s review of Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Bucerchiale Riserva 2016 appeared as Wine Spectator’s Daily Wine Pick for wines that cost more than $30 SELVAPIANA Chianti Rufina Bucerchiale Riserva 2016 93 points | 1,900 cases imported | Red Tasting Note: Dark and brooding, this red features ripe black cherry, blackberry, wild herb, earth and iron flavors. Gains in richness, density and ripeness what it loses in freshness, though shows fine balance and length. Drink now through 2028. —B.S.”
Selvapiana wines have also been reviewed by Falstaff and are included in the magazine Falstaff Tasting Toscana Centrale, soon on newsstands in the printed version. “ BIO Vigneto Bucerchiale Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2016 Selvapiana DIAM. Kraftvolles, leuchtendes Rubin mit feinem Granatrand. Sehr intensive und spannende Nase nach reifer Frucht, vor allem Kirsche und Zwetschke, etwas schwarze Trüffel. Breitet sich am Gau-men satt aus, viel dichtmaschiges Tan-nin, saftig und dicht, öffnet sich in vielen Schichten, im Finale fester Druck und er-dige Noten, viel Tabak. BIO Vigneto Bucerchiale Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2017 NK. Glänzendes, sattes Rubin. Eröffnet mit Noten nach Harz und Buchsbaum, dann dunkle Kirsche. Kompakt und dicht-maschig in Ansatz und Verlauf, zeigt viel Kraft, griffiges, zupackendes Tannin, ge-paart mit feinem, süßem Schmelz, herz-haft und lange. Vigneto Erchi Chianti Rufina DOCG 2016 Selvapiana 14 Vol.-%, NK. Leuchtendes Rubinrot mit funkelndem Kern. Edle und einladende Nase nach dezenter Gewürznelke, satter Kirsche und Pflaume sowie einer Prise Weihrauch. Am Gaumen saftig und prä-sent, spannt sich mit mineralischem Un-terton auf, zeigt satten Druck, kraftvolles Tannin, bleibt lange haften.” Furthermore, all tasting notes will be available online on the site http://www.falstaff.com/toskana-2021 fals_AT_2101_Tasting Toskana