Rufina: One Straw in the Chianti Haystack #ItalianFWT

Italian FWT Chianti Cavalcade
This month, our Italian Food Wine and Travel writers will be celebrating different aspects of Chianti. Chianti is a familiar Italian wine to drinkers around the world, but there is so much to explore! Scroll down in this post for a list of links to all the writers contributions.

Chianti Classifications – When Is Enough Enough?
Chianti has a long and interesting history, dating back as far as the year 1400. Until the 1930’s, the name was associated with the historic protected Chianti zone, closely associated with the DOCG region referred to as Chianti Classico today. As the wine’s popularity increased, the production zone expanded to a much larger region within Tuscany, so then there were two: Chianti DOC and Chianti Classico DOCG. Then Chianti Classico added a variety of aging related classifications including: Chianti Classico, Riserva and Gran Selezione. There’s even talk of delineating Crus; eleven selected high quality vineyards for the top Gran Selezione. Whew!

The larger Chianti area was always considered a bit lower level classification compared to Chianti Classico, it held only DOC status. That changed in 1984 when Chianti was elevated to DOCG status as well which seemed confusing, was Chianti Classico a DOCG subzone or a separate zone entirely? Then there are 7 villages within Chianti which have slightly enhanced regulations and the benefit of adding the village name to the label. There are also Superiore and Riserva designations within these villages!

Even for Sangiovese lovers, choosing a wine can be a challenge: Chianti or Classico, Superiore, Riserva, Gran Selezione, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Superiore & Riserva in the Villages…. What’s a non-expert to do?

Chianti Rufina
If your preference for Chianti leans to elegance over pure power, the map is your friend. Taking a look at the map, pick out the Tuscan coastline as sea level, low altitude. To the right of Firenze and Arezzo are the Appenine mountains defining the spine of Italy – high altitude. Now find the (maroon color) village of Rufina and see it’s a high altitude mark of the region. Vineyards in Rufina are located at altitudes up to 500 meters, 200 meters higher than even hilly Chianti Classico. Higher altitude translates to a larger day-night temperature difference which means more refreshing acidity in the finished wines. The inland location also means there is less moderating impact from the Mediterranean. Rufina wines are usually less ripe, more aromatic, a bit lighter in body but having firm acidity and tannins. Next time you’re looking for a Chianti of some type, see if you can find a Chianti Rufina!

Fattoria Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 2018

Fattoria Selvapiana Chianti Rufina DOCG 2018 ($19 in Minneapolis similar price in Dijon) 13.5% abv
Fattoria Selvapiana is a historic multicrop farm in the Rufina community in Tuscany. Today, the property covers nearly 250 hectares (ha), of which 58 ha are dedicated to vines, 36 ha to olives and 140 left to woodlands (1 ha = 2.5 acres). Certified organic since the early 1990’s. The wines are vinified with ambient yeasts and long maceration in traditional fashion. Sulfur additions are minimized, much lower than in times past.
Eye: Pale ruby
Nose: Medium plus intensity aromas of ripe cherries, sour cherries, tart red raspberries, dried cherries, tobacco, balsamic, fresh thyme and rosemary,
Mouth: Dry, refreshing high acidity, medium sandy textured tannins, medium alcohol, medium plus flavor intensity, medium plus finish. Flavors follow the aromas emphasizing tart red fruits, fresh herbs and tobacco.
Observations: This wine finds that balance between firm structure from acidity and tannins without being too full bodied and rich.

Make Anywhere Spaghetti with Selvapiana Chianti Rufina
We’re camped out in Dijon, France this fall so it’s a miracle I’m able to participate. Most wine shop employees would look at you quizzically if you asked for a bottle of Italian wine. “They make wine in Italy?? Never heard of it. How about this nice Bourgogne Rouge.” Luckily, I ran across one of my favorite Chiantis earlier in the month and I was excited to join the Chianti celebration. We’re in an AirBnB which is always a fun challenge in the cooking department. Luckily, our kitchen is well equipped and all I needed to do was figure out the French names for ingredients in my fully American make-anywhere spaghetti. Like every good meal, it starts with sautéing chopped onions and garlic (ail at the marché). One of the challenges at a French marché, all the fresh ingredients are local and this is late in the season for fresh basil (basilic). I found some fresh frozen at Picard, the frozen foods shop. Tomato sauce is pretty easy to find. I was happy to see decent Italian pasta, real semolina and slowly formed through brass die, this makes for a rough texture in the pasta surface, perfect for holding the sauce. Add some sautéed meat if you like, and sautéed local mushrooms (from the mushroom farmer!). Throw in a few olives if you like. Somehow this dish just tastes better with Italian wine and Chianti Rufina perfectly fits that bill.

Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 1979 and 2011
Can Chianti age? Try Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 1979 and 2011!

Other Italian Food Wine & Travel Chianti Finds
Take a look below at all the great Chianti discoveries to whet your appetite. After reading, why not join our chat on Twitter? Search for #ItalianFWT between 10-11am CDT on Saturday, Nov. 5, we’d love to hear what you think!

6 Responses to “Rufina: One Straw in the Chianti Haystack #ItalianFWT”
  1. robincgc says:

    While I love all of this, the highlight was “Most wine shop employees would look at you quizzically if you asked for a bottle of Italian wine. “They make wine in Italy?? Never heard of it. How about this nice Bourgogne Rouge.” LOL! I love that!

  2. Lynn says:

    And now you know first hand the challenges of finding non-French wines here! That is, unless you make it to Paris, order them, or get lucky. Nice choice the Selvapiana. Was it a choice?!?

  3. Great that you found a Selvapiana Chianti Rufina wine. A classic 🙂

  4. Thanks for the useful advice on finding elegant, high-acid Chianti. Look to the hills!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Jeff of Food Wine Click shares “Rufina – One Straw in the Chianti Haystack” […]

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