Fattoria Selvapiana, organic estate in the Chianti Rufinà DOCG region of Tuscany, also producing a small amount of Pomino DOC.

Owner | Selvapiana has been owned by the Giuntini family since 1827. In the mid-19th century the Giuntini brothers–including Guido Giuntini, a Florentine banker and great grandfather of Piero Stucchi-Prinetti of Badia a Coltibuono–decided to go into agriculture and bought three Tuscan estates: Selvapiana, Badia a Coltibuono (which Guido Giuntini bought in 1846) in Gaiole in Chianti in Chianti Classico DOCG and La Parrina. Today the winemaker is fifth generation owner Francesco Giuntini’s adopted son Federico Giuntini-Masseti, who works with his (also adopted) sister Silvia Giuntini A. Masseti. Federico (who speaks English) began working here in 1988 after effectively dropping out of agronomy study in Florence. His wife wife studied political science. They have one son. Federico told me that ‘in the 1950s when the mezzadria system of landholding ended Francesco Giuntini and my father Franco planted the first specialized vineyard. They started to bottle the wine and later in the ‘70s they started to work mostly on 100% Sangiovese for the single vineyard riserva, with massale selection vines. All these factors brought the estate into the modern era.’

History | In medieval times, Selvapiana was one of the watch towers along the Sieve river, built with the purpose of protecting the city of Florence on the north-east border. During the Renaissance, it became a summer residence for noble families and Florentine bishops. A mixed farm, with olive and fruit trees, plus cattle and other livestock, it was probably the Bishop of Florence who planted the first vineyards, but any potential records of this were lost when part of the building was destroyed. In 1826 Selvapiana was bought by Michele Giuntini. Under Francesco Giuntini, who was born on the estate and ran the property with consultant Franco Bernabei, Selvapiana was among the first Tuscan producers to make a Riserva wine from 100% Sangiovese. Today the winemaker is fifth generation owner Francesco Giuntini’s adopted son, Federico. he began working here in late 1987, and slowly converted the estate to organics (see below).

Staff | Consultant oenologist: Franco Bernabei.

Vineyards | The winery vineyard (27ha in 2005) is located on the eastern flank of the Sieve river. Federico Giuntini told me in May 2016 that ‘Selvapiana is still quite a large estate because all together it’s 250 hectares with 60 under vines. Of the 60 hectares, 54 are cultivated with Sangiovese, and some of the Sangiovese is quite old. The oldest part is the Bucerchiale vineyard which was planted in 1968. Bucerchiale is south-west facing, otherwise the Selvapiana vineyards are mainly west-facing. Our vineyards are around 150 to 200 metres (490 to 656 feet) above sea level. Apart from Bucerchiale all Selvapiana’s other vineyards have been replaced and replanted from 1987 onwards.’ Some of the budwood came from Isole e Olena, I think. Other land is given to forest, and olive tree (see below). Anotehr vineyard called Erchi is located above the Cerreto Libri estate and comprised 15ha of land of which 1ha was vines and the rest was olives when Selvapiana bought it. They then added another 6ha of vines. 

Soil | Federico Giuntini told me in May 2016 that ‘the soil is very diverse. There are two main geological metrics, the northern part of the estate is connected to the Masicho de la Penino, and the rest is connected to the Masicho de Chianti. Some of our land is very similar to the Chianti Classico soils. Clay, limestone, in the middle of the valley. Going up [the slopes] you find the galestro or schist soil. Where we have clay and limestone together the wines are much richer, fatter, more juicy. The wine on the galestro tends to be a little more tannic and a little more austere, but on both sides you have very elegant and fine wines.

Organics | 1992 From 1992 Federico Giuntini introduced organic methods. Federico Giuntini told me in May 2016 that it took several years for the vines to get used to organics after herbicides and soluble fertilisers were eliminated, and that yields did drop but became more consistent from year to year and grape quality was much healthier overall. he says he is looking to reduce his reliance on copper-based sprays (used to prevent downy mildew) from 6 to 4 kg Cu per year by using plant-based sprays made from sea algae or vegetable extract. | 2005 First vintage with full organic certification. | 2008 Federico Giuntini told me in May 2016 that ‘the only year that we really saw a drop in production after going organic was 2008. That May was very, very rainy and humid so we lost some of the crop due to an early mildew attack, but it was the only year. | 2016 Still fully certified organic.

Winery | The historic cellar is two levels below the garden, and is the estate’s historical cellar. It is part of the medieval tower. In 2016 the library’s oldest vintage was the 1948.

Red wines

Pomino Rosso, Villa  di Petrognano | From 6ha of vines rented from Fattoria di Petrognano. | 2012 14%.

Chianti Rufina DOCG, Selvapiana | 2002 85,000 bottles, compared to around 120-130,000 bottles normally. A bit hot but nice clean soft fresh fruit; and crisp acidity, decent at the winery on Thursday 17th March 2005. | 2014 13%. In 2016 Federico Giuntuni told me that during the tough conditions (rain) in 2015 his team ‘worked very hard in the vineyards, we did all the things that had to be done, that needed to be done. We dropped 80% of the Chianti Rufina Riserva into the Chianti Rufina normale. It’s one of the vintages that I’m really proud of.’ Aged in oak vats of 2,000, 2,500 and 5,000 litres.

Chianti Rufina DOCG Riserva, Selvapiana | 1997 The last riserva to be produced by Selvapiana. From now on they will produce the single vineyard wines, Bucerchiale and Fornace, in appropriate years, while the rest of the riserva will be used to improve the normale.

Chianti Rufina DOCG Riserva, Bucerchiale | Single vineyard cru. | 1998 Exists. 2000 Lovely blood and cedar; rich ripe fruit and elegant and good Sangiovese style too at the winery on Thursday 17th March 2005. | 2001 More obvious power and weight than 2000; fine grained tannin and rich fruit with lovely freshness too; intense but refined – really nice wines at the winery on Thursday 17th March 2005. | 2007 15%. | 2012 14.5%. Aged in 225-litre French barrels, only a small percenytage of which are new.

Chianti Rufina DOCG Riserva, Fornace | Now bottled as a Toscana Rosso, see below. | 1998 90% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Toscana Rosso, Fornace

Vin Santo

Vin Santo del Chianti Rufina DOCG | Made from Trebbiano bunches which are tied in pairs and left to dry from September (harvest) to February the following year. The drying process is indoors, in a large room, in a former granary, with lots of windows to make the air-drying process as natural as possible. More than 70% of the weight of the cluster, of the berries, is lost. Then. once the grapes have shrivelled and become more concentrated and much sweeter-tasting they are pressed. They look like raisns. Very little juice is expressed, around 20% of what one would normally expect had the grapes been pressed immediately after harvest. The juice is then fermented. It is aged for seven years in a very small casks, called ‘caratelli’ in Tuscany. The casks are not filled completely. They are sealed with a cement bung and not touch again during the aging period. | 2002 50% Trebbiano and 50% Malvasia I think. 11 years in caratelli I think. Incredible wine, best vin santo I have had to date (Vinitaly 11 April 2016).

Olive oil

Federico Giuntini told me in May 2016 that the distinctive nature of the estates extra virgin olive oil, one of the most famous olive oils in Italy, is due to the terroir. “We don’t do anything special. It’s just where we are because we are at the climatic limit of the cultivation of olive trees in the centre of Italy. To find the next area for olive trees you have to go to the shores of Lake Garda. We work a lot with green olives, we press them as soon as they are picked. We have changed some things in the last five years, we filter immediately to take away all the sediment, a little with sugar, water. So we give an extra couple of years of life to the extra virgin olive oil. Our oil shows a distinct fruitiness, and spicy, green tomato flavors. It’s not good for every kind of food of course. It’s very unique on vegetables but not for fish, meat, soup, that kind of thing, because it’s very rich, very aromatic. Sometimes it’s even too spicy, but fortunately enough consumer tastes have changed a lot in the past few years.

Bibliography

Monty Waldin, visit on Thursday 17th March 2005.

Monty Waldin and Christopher Barnes of Grape Collective, visit

Oz Clarke 2015, Oz Clarke Wine A-Z (Pavilion, 2015), p238.

Contact

Fattoria Selvapiana

Loc. Selvapiana 43

I-50065 Pontassieve (FI = Firenze), Italy

 Tel+39 055.8369848 | www.selvapiana.it