Chianti Rùfina DOCG is a red wine from a small area 15 miles (km) east of Florence, ‘Chianti from the Rùfina area’, Rùfina being a village on the Sieve river, a tributary of the Arno. It is the smallest of the sub-areas within the wider red wine-only Chianti DOCG in Tuscany, Italy, and qualitatively is–along with Chianti Montespertoli DOCG–its most renowned. Rùfina is located in the north eastern part of the Chianti DOCG zone, within the province of Florence (Firenze), 12.5 miles (20km) north-east of the city of Florence (‘Firenze’), and north of the Chianti Classico DOCG zone. Traditionally the wines were sold to the ‘mescite‘ (bars serving wine) and ‘trattorie‘ of Florence.
1716 Cosimo III de’Medici: Chianti Rùfina ‘was first identified as an area of superior production in Cosimo III de’Medici’s granducal edict of 1716, which named the zone Pomino after the famous estate of the Albizi family (David Gleave & Daniel Thomases, 2006, p.163). Pomino is now a DOC in its own right.
Geography: The delimited Rùfina zone includes, in whole or in part the municipalities of Dicomano (in the north), Londa, Rùfina (between Dicomano and Pontassieve), Pelago (to the south-east) and Pontassieve (in the south-central part). These all lie on the hills east of Florence.
Size | 12,483ha of land of which around 1,500ha are registered in to produce Chianti Rufina. | 2016 Federico Giuntini of Fattoria Selvapiana told me in 2016 that Rùfina had around 20 producers making around 4% of the total output for Chianti DOCG, and that despite its small size, it is the third most productive area in Chianti (after Chianti Classico DOCG and Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG).
Terroir: The region ‘stretches along the summit of Monte Senario from Dicomano in the north-east to Pontassieve in the southwest (D’Agata, 2019, p.284). Rùfina differs from the other Chianti DOCG regions and from Chianti Classico itself by being closer to the Apennine foothills, the chain of mountains that forms central Italy’s spine, dividing Tuscany from Emilia-Romagna. The mountains and the presence of the Sieve river combine to moderate summer heat, fostering day-night temperature swings, slowing ripening and providing the potential for balanced wines with notable acidity levels and elegant tannins. See also the Pomino DOC, in the hamlet of Pomino, a higher area which Rùfina almost totally surrounds. Thus with a ‘relatively low mean temperature, being hard up against the Apennine mountain ridge, with…a ripening time generally several days later [than for Chianti Classico, it means] Rùfina wines are known for their acidity and for their longevity,’ (Nicolas Belfrage MW: 2003, p.96).
Andrea Zanfei of Fattoria Cerreto Libri is quoted by Louis Dressner as saying ‘Chianti Rùfina differs from the rest of Chianti [DOCG] because of its unique climate. This is mostly due the merging of the Sieve River with the larger Arno river, which results in noticeable temperature differences between day and night, as well as a lot of humidity in the early morning and at dusk. Because there are so few producers in Rùfina (around 20), D.O.C regulations are less exposed to the flexibility of Chianti Classico, and the region has remained more rooted in tradition.’
Rùfina is probably the only Chianti sub-zone (‘sottozona’), except for Chianti Classico, which deserves its DOCG classification. One reason is it has no denomination of greater prestige within its boundaries, as for example does Chianti Colli Senesi with Brunello di Montalcino,’ (Nicolas Belfrage: 2003, p.96-7).
Altitude: Ian D’Agata (2019, p.284) points out that although the region describes itself as ‘the highest of all Chiantis’ (‘il più alto fra I Chianti’) average altitudes are roughly 200-500 metres (656-1,640 feet) above sea level, which is ‘not that high’. However, some Rufina vineyards are in mountainous environments at 700 metres (2,296 feet) above sea level, near Dicomano in northern Rufina, for example, so the ‘the highest of all Chiantis’ slogan is accurate.
Wine style: ‘Wine lovers should not forget about Chianti Rufina. For the most part a high-altitude, cool-climate viticultural area, its Chiantis are some of the most perfumed, flinty and refined of all,’ (Ian D’Agata, Vinous, Sept 2014). Federico Giuntini of Fattoria Selvapiana told me in 2016 that ‘Rùfina as a Chianti zone is known for making very aromatic, elegant wines. This has to do with where we are. We are in a valley and close to the [Appennine] mountains, we have very dramatic temperatures between night and day, so the grapes ripen very slowly. They keep all their freshness, that’s why the wines are so aromatic, so floral, with open fruit, ripe fruit, but not too ripe. Always on the fresh side.’
Certified organic, Biodynamic practices: Voltumna.
No Certification: Castello di Nipozzano (Frescobaldi). | Castello del Trebbio. | Colognole. | Fattoria di Basciano. | Fattoria di Grignano. | Fattoria Il lago. | Frascole. | Grati.| Lavacchio. | Le Coste di Giuliano Grati. | Poggio Gualtieri – see Fattoria di Grignano. | Tenuta Bossi. | Travignoli. | Villa di Vetrice.
Bill Nesto MW & Frances Di Savino, Chianti Classico, the Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine, (University of California Press, 2016).
Burton Anderson, The Wine Atlas of Italy (Mitchell Beazley, London, 1990).
David Gleave, The Wines of Italy (Salamander Books, London, 1989).
Daniel Thomases and David Gleave MW, Oxford Companion to Wine 3rd edition ed. Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW (Oxford University Press, 2006).
Dr Ian d’Agata, Italy’s Native Wine Grape Terroirs (University of California Press, 2019), p284-286.
Dr Ian D’Agata, Tuscany Part 1: Chianti, Vino Nobile and Supertuscans (Sep 2014) | Vinous
Louis Dressner, ‘Chianti Rufina from Cerreto Libri,’.
Nicolas Belfrage MW, From Brunello to Zibibbo–The Wines of Tuscany, Central and Southern Italy (2nd edition, London, 2003).
Oz Clarke 2015, Oz Clarke Wine A-Z (Pavilion, 2015), p85.