Rufina (ROO-fee-nah): Chianti’s best kept secret
The Travignoli estate has been producing wine in Chianti Rufina (one of Chianti’s northernmost subzones) since the twelfth century, when the Busi family began to cultivate the land there. Today, Count Giovanni Busi and his family continue to live “among the vines”: the estate’s name, Travignoli, come from the Italian tra (“among”) and vigne (“vines”).
When you think “Count,” you imagine a stuffy old gent who wears a frock coat and speaks in a stern voice that reflects his station in life. The 40-something Giovanni is the exact opposite: with his leading-man looks and soft-spoken Tuscan accent, Giovanni is perhaps the most personable winemaker in Rufina and his wines bespeak his gentle and noble approach to an ancient tradition of winemaking handed down in his family since the middle ages.
“One of the things that sets our wines apart from other subzones of Chianti,” says Giovanni, “is the fact that Chianti Rufina lies at a higher altitude than the rest of the appellation.” The resulting temperature variation (i.e., cooler nights than in the rest of the appellation) helps to cool the vines and allows them ripen more slowly. “That’s why we are able to produce wines that age so well and that only get finer over time.” The other difference is that while Chianti Classico is known for its rocky subsoil, the subsoil of Chianti Rufina is primarily clay: the excellent drainage in Rufina “stresses” the vines. In other words, it forces the vines to work hard to produce fruit. The resulting grapes are richer than those grown in other parts of Toscana and make for wines with greater depth, structure, and aging potential.
The Travignoli wines are among the most popular at Vino and you’ll often find the Chianti Rufina Riserva by the glass at I Trulli. The San Clemente is one of our favorites: it was created by Giovanni for Vino’s owner Nicola Marzovilla when Nicola asked him to make a Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in traditional, large old-oak barrels (botti). For more information and to purchase, click on the individual wines below.
- Chianti Rufina Ris. 2001 Travignoli, $18
- Calice del Conte 1998 Travignoli
regularly $28, now $22.40 (20% off Spring clearance sale)
- San Clemente 2003 Travignoli, regularly $30, now $24 (20% off Spring clearance sale)
- Tegolaia 1999 Travignoli, $34
- Vin Santo Ris. 1994 Travignoli (375 ml), $45