A new red from Marchesi de' Frescobaldi's Castello di Nipozzano estate in Chianti Rufina relies entirely on indigenous grapes for the blend.
The Chianti Rufina Nipozzano Vecchie Viti Riserva 2011 is a blend of 90 percent Sangiovese complemented by 10 percent Malvasia Nera, Colorino and Canaiolo. By contrast, the Chianti Rufina Nipozzano Riserva 2010 relies on 10 percent Merlot to round out the Sangiovese.
As a result, the Vecchie Viti displays a more silky texture than its dense, slightly rough-hewn sibling. The aromas and flavors reveal floral and red berry notes of strawberry and tart cherry compared with the deeper, rich cherry and earth tones of the Nipozzano Riserva.
There are differences in the vinification and aging also. The Vecchie Viti was fermented in cement vats as opposed to stainless steel and aged in large 3,000-liter French oak casks for 24 months. The Nipozzano Riserva matures in used barriques for the same amount of time.
The Vecchie Viti was a "mistake," a wine borne of practicality and the specific characteristics of the 2011 harvest. According to Nipozzano's winemaker Eleonora Marconi, the 600-acre estate underwent a replanting program beginning in the 1970s. One 50-acre parcel of 40-year-old vines, still trained in the old Guyot method, remained to be replanted.
Warm weather in August 2011 resulted in an early and relatively short harvest. The Vecchie Viti plots, harvested entirely by hand, were the last to be picked. Normally, the old-vine Sangiovese would be blended with the other lots for the Nipozzano Riserva. It was the last to be picked and lack of tank space prompted Marconi to ferment the old vines in cement. As the team tasted the different lots prior to blending, the wine from the old vines stood out, and the Frescobaldi team liked it and decided to age and bottle it separately.
The Chianti Rufina Nipozzano Vecchie Viti Riserva 2011 retails for $30 and will be available nationally in the coming weeks.