Best-Kept Secret

Ewine of the Week

by Bruce Cochran

Hello Everyone,

This week we’ll examine one of the world’s truly great wine regions, but so small that we see only a few wines from it. It’s pretty conveniently located near one of the wine world’s greatest and most famous destinations, yet it’s not visited by many tourists.

Try a new wine this week! 



Nippozzano Chianti Rúfina From Northern Tuscany

Everybody’s heard the name Chianti, the most prevalent wine name in Italy’s Tuscany region. Its seven subzones cover about one half of Tuscany. Like most Tuscan red wines Chianti is made primarily from the sangiovese grape, usually blended with other local varieties.

Wines labeled simply “Chianti” can come from any or all of seven subzones, which together cover a good part of Tuscany’s northern half.  

Since wines from only a few of them are seen in the U.S. with any regularity, it’s not important to remember all seven, but here’s a list, roughly from north to south: Colline Pisane (colline means “hills” and Pisane means the area near Pisa, as in the leaning tower), Montalbano, Colli Fiorentina,  Rufina, Classico, Colli Aretini and Colli Senesi. The first four cover northernmost Tuscany from west to east. The last three stretch south from Florence.

The best known, and the one whose wines are most often seen in the U.S., is Chianti Classico. The Classico hills lie south of Florence and north of Siena. Their wines tend to be among the fullest-bodied Chianti’s.

Those first four subzones lie west and east of Florence. They’re small, beautiful and easily accessible to travelers who are ready to get out of Florence for a day trip. Wines from these northern Tuscan regions tend to exhibit a little less power and a lot more finesse than most of the wines made farther south in the Classico or Senesi (Siena) subregions.

The Frescobaldi family, one of Tuscany’s oldest and most distinguished winemaking dynasties, makes one of my favorite Chianti’s. Their Nippozzano Riserva is from Chianti Rúfina and should not be confused with another Chianti brand with a similar spelling. Nippozzano Chianti Rufina is made from the (mostly) traditional blend of sangiovese (90 percent) and malvasia nero, colorino, merlot and cabernet sauvignon.  

With a style emphasizing finesse over power, Nippozzano is a great wine to remember in restaurants. It has good color, a moderately full nose, and enough depth and character to serve with a steak, but wouldn’t overpower a good roasted chicken. Medium to medium-full bodied, with flavors reminiscent of red and black fruits and a firm yet supple backbone of oak and tannin. Retail price: $20-$25.

Categories: Legacy Archive