Meet the Winemaker: Federico Giuntini – Chianti Rufina, Tuscany

Bonjour Federico, where do you come from?  I grew up at Selvapiana, my father was the estate manager from 1950 till 1990.  I always want to work at the estate. Francesco Giuntini, owner of Selvapiana, never got married and always considered us, my sister and myself, kind of his family in 1994 decided to legally adopted us.  I studied at University of Florence for Agriculture only for 2 years.

What do you enjoy in life? 
I like to read classics like Hemingway, or Pirandello and Calvino.  

For Music: I am still in the new wave period of the 80.

To Drink: Lots of Sangiovese and Nebbiolo (Barbaresco and Barolo) and Pinot Nero. Champagne is also a favorite.

What don’t you enjoy?
Lack of humility.


What is a vintage that you loved to vinify?
Vintage 1985 for Sangiovese in Tuscany was really unique, 2016 in the most recent ones.
Vintages that I really liked to produce was 1990 and 2009.

What is the history of Selvapiana?
History: Selvapiana shares the same history like many other estate in Chianti. First built in medieval times as a Tower than became a Villa in the renaissance and was bought by Michele Giuntini in the 1826.
Francesco Managed the estate for nearly 50 years and spent much of his efforts in improving the quality of Selvapiana wines.

How did you come to take over the Selvapiana estate?
I started in 1987 after high school to work mostly to learn from the old estate team…

Why organic viticulture?  Does the climate make organic viticulture easy to implement?
In 1992 we started to try organic farming mostly because I had a background of being active with the “Green Movement” to organics
Nowdays our great challenge is to deal with the climate; it’s more extreme and every vintage is a different story.


What links you to the small region of Rufina?  Where is it located?  
RUFINA is a very special place, and has been known for the quality of its wines since 1600! The Rufina region was one of the first regions in Europe to be subject to production rules (which today could be compared to our DOC / DOGC system in Italy) as early as 1716 by the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosme III de Medicis. Rufina was one of the 4 most important Tuscan regions. 

What makes it different from the other Sangiovese regions? Than Classico?
The main difference is the climate.  Being very close to the Appennine mountains we enjoy a very cooler climate, more longer ripening season, and the difference in temperature is very dramatic. The wines are more elegant, finesse, with very fine tannins.

Mostly at Selvapiana we grow Sangiovese. All the vineyards are made with a mix of massal selection of our sangiovese from old vines, and the new clones that have been developed in the last 20 years, Chianti Classico 2000 project, and from University of Milano. 

Sangiovese is not an easy grape to grow, it is quite fertile, very easy to get some fungus diseases, the skins are normally not very thick and become fragile when they get ripe, but it is a fantastic grape when it is healthy, ripe, and well balanced.


What is the winemaking philosophy at Selvapiana?

Vinification for all wines is based on long fermentation and maceration, no selected yeats, temperature controlled, pumping over and delastage.

What are the differences between 100% Sangiovese cuvées Bucerchiale and Erchi?
BUCERCHIALE is on a large plot of clay limestone with lots of rocks, alberese and arenaria, south-east facing. These stones are typical of the area and were used for the construction of sacred buildings in the Middle Ages for the limestone and for ornamental purposes for the sandstone.Wines are more elegant, fine tannins a lots of minerals aromatic.   Bucerchiale is 50% LARGE FOUDRE CASKS and 50% Barriques

ERCHI is 5 km from the  estate, soil has more limestone and iron, wines are more rich, tannins are more rich, and lots of small red fruit.  100% Barriques, 15% new.

Can you tell us about your other cuvées?
RUFINA: Is our example of simple but very serious Sangiovese for more enjoyable, everyday drinking, fresh, fruity, wild cherry, good acidity to match food.  Rufina is aged in large French oak casks.

POMINO: Unique and very old area, 500m altitude, one of the very first area where French grapes were cultivated. Lots of freshness due to altitude.
The blend showcases the Elegance of Sangiovese –  Sweetness of Merlot, tannins and structure of Cabernet Sauvignon.

FORNACE: Our example of a Bordeaux blend. Vines are 30 years old and now the wine tastes more of Rufina. 100% Barriques, 15% new.

SYRAH:   A good Syrah from a cooler climate, very good after 5years of aging.

VIN SANTO: The welcoming wine of Tuscany farmers. 100% Trebbiano grape –  Dried the grapes for 4 months and then 7 years of ageing, much longer than the three year requirement for the appellation rules.

What do you like in a wine: that it keeps, that it’s good right away…?
A great wine must be nice and drinkable when it is young, and when it get older.

You have a great collection of old vintage wines. How do Chianti wines age?  Is it based on Sangiovese?  The Climate? The terroir of Rufina? 
OLD VINTAGES: At Selvapiana we all vintages from 1948 till nowdays. Mostly due to the climate where the acidity is always a little higher than other parts of Tuscany.

How does an older Sangiovese taste in respect to a younger one?
The main difference with age it is that the wine lose some of the fruit aromas and some of the freshness and gain a lot of richness on the nose. On the palate smoother and softer but more complex.

What would you like for Rufina tomorrow?
RUFINA TOMORROW:  Become just RUFINA and drop the CHIANTI denomination, and become a 100% Organic district.

What are the regional pairings (meals) for your wines? 
FOOD: Classic salumi and crostini with chicken liver, pasta mostly homemade ravioli stuffed with potatoes, with wildboar sauce, lots of meats, slow-cooked meat like Peposo, and the classic T-bones steak.

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